Save Harrow Skatepark Day

Saturday 19th April 2008

Words and portraits by Zac
Action shots by Andrew Vost
Darryl video clip by Phraeza

Concrete skateparks have always played host breeding creative individuals and acting as a public space where relationships can be founded. If you are a skater reading this, you will already know all about the social benefits of having a local meeting point for your scene. This special space breeds creativity that eventually leads to ideas that are more than just a shared session.

This park in particular has played a huge part in creating UK skateboard industry history and also breeding generations of great skateboarders since it’s first session. Built in 1978, Solid Surf Skatepark was one of a handful of large concrete skateparks constructed to host the craze of skateboarding. Harrow’s local scene quickly formed and the collection of heads that rocked the park quickly began to be known as the H-Boyz becoming the first generation of skaters to stamp their authority on this spot and get recognition elsewhere. As the fad wore out, the hardcore kept it alive and as the 80’s crept in, BMX riders started popping up, eventually sharing sessions at the park and once again providing another outlet for people to congregate and share their ideas.

Moving into 2008, like most of the UK’s 70’s skateparks, this one is in need of renovating to bring it up to date with the worldwide scene. Ongoing talks about raising the finance from the council have now reached a point where the message of its future has become a rumour of two halves; the first talking of renovation, the second fueling fears of demolition and underfunding. The proposed plans would currently knock down the park and leisure centre behind it and sell the land for flats worth up to £40m with only £300k made available to redevelop the park. This amount of money is nowhere near the amount that the park needs to replace the current skate park and only enough to build something small for the local scene. There’s no doubt that skaters feel short changed if this is allowed to go ahead, hence the importance of today’s event.

The day was initially put together by young, local skater Alex Reeves and friend Namir, who decided not to sit back and let the councils decide on whether the skatepark should be saved, but instead, got in touch with Death Skateboards, Crossfire and various SOS to help publicize the importance of the need to keep the park up and running due to public interest. Only time will tell if the effort will be worthwhile but there’s no denying that the effort has been made.

I had been looking forward to this day for a while. As soon as I was awake, my eyes peered through the condensation of my window and confirmed that those clouds did not move overnight. The threat of rain as forecast was still very much on the cards but the pavement was dry and that was good enough for me. This threat didn’t seem to stop anyone from making the journey to Harrow today though as the park was rammed with skaters from all over the South East and even as far as Sheffield, a great turnout to raise the much needed publicity.

An early pool jam seemed to be the only sesh that would go down on the day but the slippery surface created by the cold, damp weather didn’t stop Scott ‘Horsey’ Walker and other rippers from shredding the blue pit. This pool was never build correctly back in 1978, the transitions were never fully correct. Ask Rodga Harvey about the day he mentioned this to Jim Rennie who was brought over from Florida to build the park and he will tell you that they almost beat him up over it! To this very day the pool is kinked but it has always been sessioned regardless of human error. To think that one day this hole could be replaced with a perfect version is enough to make sure you get behind the fight for renovation, especially when you realise that kids like Darryl Dominguez would annihilate it for years to come and it would encourage other kids in the area to have something to do other than wreck the local town.

The BaySixty6 local got to work on the infamous ‘Bollocks’ with a flip frontside air in front of a packed, frozen crowd. For those of you who are wondering what the ‘Bollocks’ actually are, they are the legendary hips at the bottom of the park that have been sessioned for years. His kick flip frontside air over the nads secured some cash and warmed the hands of most. Dan Cates decided that 3 boards stuck together was far more exciting to ride than one today and his unique style combined of tech skills and total fun provided light entertainment.

The concrete half pipe got a roasting on the day thanks to a sick front blunt from Carl Wilson. The Death Skateboards rider laid down a bunch of tail slides and took his prize well. The last time this trick at this spot was covered internationally (TWS cover 1992) it was Mike Frazier who had the balls to huck one into the pit of doom. This half pipe is a gnarly ride but it didn’t stop Ben Raemers from chucking in wild nosepicks and fast backside disaster reverts despite skating with an injured knee. The session continued even as rain started to spit from above but it didn’t manage to stop people from skating . Funniest moment of the day was when local nutcase ‘Psycho’ Simon ripped off his shirt and pushed himself onto the lip helped by 200 people screaming to help him on from Monk’s loudspeaker pleas!

Eventually the damp, cold weather kicked in and stopped play, but everyone was up for it and the atmosphere rocked. Free shit was tossed out, punk bands played raw hardcore and as the booze kicked in, the traditional, beer can and shoe fight took centre stage!

Big thanks to Alex Reeves, Namir, Zorlac at Death/Power, Steve Douglas at Dwindle, Matt Anderson at Revival Distribution, H-Boyz, Adam & Jane Wood at I-Five Distribution, Relentless, Independent trucks, Heroin skateboards, Consolidated Skateboards, Dephect, Mark Munson and the Duffs team, Phraeza, Monk, Niall Kenny, Chris Johnson, Sam Ashley, Day Release the other bands and everyone who made it down on the day to support it.