A new skatepark is finally due to open just outside of Bristol, following six years of campaigning.
Dan Lacey had been working on bringing a new skatepark to Warmley in Gloucestershire, following the closure of the original park in 2012.
The skatepark was closed following repeated vandalism, damage from arson attacks and safety concerns.
“Having a skatepark gives you a safer environment to practice your skills in” explained Dan.
“I’ve been skating for fifteen years now, so it was about giving something back to the community, it makes me proud.”
The skatepark has been redesigned and redeveloped into a new facility that will cost £150,000, built in concrete to avoid future damage.
The Warmley Forest Skate Park Group, made up of local skateboard enthusiasts and chaired by Dan, have been campaigning for facilities for young skateboarders to use around Bristol for years.
“When I first started skating there weren’t that many skateparks around” explained Dan, who has been skating since the age of fourteen.
Dan and the rest of the Warmley Forest Skate Park Group became frustrated by the lack of facilities in the area and have overseen a number of projects, including the Subside skatepark in Fromside and lobbying local authorities for funding for a skatepark in Cadbury Heath.
“There’s a social aspect” Dan explained “It’s somewhere safe for kids to go and it keeps them off the streets.”
The Warmely Forest Skate Park Group were tasked with raising the £150,000 needed for the re-development on the original site.
Their consistent campaigning eventually saw the money being donated by the Suez Communities Trust, Enovert Community Trust, Oldland Parish Council and Bitton Parish Council.
The designs were brought forward and finalised by Dan and the rest of the group, culminating in a skatepark made for skaters, by skaters.
The new Warmley skatepark will become one of many official skating destinations in the city, including the popular Dean Lane skatepark in Bedminster and Campus Pool indoor skatepark in Bishopsworth.
Although, some of the most popular and well-regarded skateboarding locations in Bristol are not purpose-built parks at all.
“The skate parks in Bristol are all pretty cruddy” explained David Sturgess, who has been skating in the Bristol area since he was 10 years old.
David is one of many skaters who spends the weekend in Bristol City Centre, skating by the Cenotaph monument.
The redeveloped centre has become one of many Bristol locations notorious for skateboard enthusiasts not just across the South West, but nationwide, such as College Green and outside the Lloyd building at Millennium Square on Harbourside.
“We tend to come here because the floor is all nice and smooth, and there’s a nice little community of skaters.”
There has been a long-standing dispute between Bristol residents and the skateboarding community over the damage caused to these areas and monuments by the sport, with some calling for more security to stop skaters around the Cenotaph in particular.
However, skaters like David see it as a harmless alternative for skaters who prefer not to use skateparks or don’t have access to them.
“When I was growing up I didn’t have anything like a skate park and when I was seventeen or eighteen my town finally built one” he explained “It was all I would ever do and it really gave me a purpose.”
Even as the skateboarding community faces resistance from certain groups, it is a community well known for its culture of acceptance.
“There’s no discrimination with skateboarding, no matter the level you’re at” said Dave.
The sentiment is echoed by Cosmo Conway from Fifty Fifty, a skateboarding shop in central Bristol.
“The skate scene in Bristol is a community, everyone knows everyone.”
“People don’t really like skateboarders” he explained “skateboarding isn’t really on the agenda.”
Cosmo supports the building of new parks and wishes there were more, however, know that there will always be a street skate culture in cities such as Bristol.
“As a skater you see things differently” he explains “You wouldn’t see a curb in the way that I look at a curb.”
“Skaters can stare at a set of stairs for five minutes, just talking about what they would do with it.”
“It’s all about improvisation at the end of the day.”
Dan agrees, but thinks there is room for both cultures in the Bristol skateboarding scene, and thinks that that separation is good to help both grow.
“There will always be people skating in the streets, but at the same time there are now skateparks for those who don’t want to skate in the street.”
Bristol’s thriving skate scene is supported by a number of skate shops which sell boards and clothing that appeal to a growing interest in the fashion of the culture.
Skateboarding is a fast-growing sport around the world and will make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo games.
The Warmley skatepark is expected to open in June this year with a series of special launch events and competitions.