Hereford Skatepark: Built by the community, for the community

Skatepark 01The beginning of April saw the launch of the fourth development phase of Hereford Skatepark, and crowds flocked to what has become one of the premier skateparks in the west Midlands.

Entertainment was provided by the excellent 2 Faced Dance and Hereford’s award-winning Beefy Boys.

The official opening of the floodlights and boom box is the newest step in this community driven project. A project whose success should be used as an example to inspire other groups around the county.

Unlike most skateparks Hereford’s is neither a money-making business nor the property of the local authority. It is run by Wheeled Sports 4 Hereford, a charitable company with a committee of dedicated members, who work closely with the people who use the facility.

The roots of the park go back 11 years when 50 young people turned up to a council meeting to lobby for a skatepark in the city. You can only imagine the fear on councillor’s faces when confronted by 50 ‘youths’.

That initial enthusiasm, along with the determination of people like Brian Stevens, culminated with the old Denco car park on Holmer Road being earmarked as the site for the park.

“That council meeting got the ball rolling,” Brian told the Heckler. “Skateboarders across Hereford were fed up with being stopped by the police.

“At that time skateboarding was seen as top of the list of anti-social behaviour.”

Through the financial support of various organisations the first stage of the skate park was opened in 2009. Since then it has grown in size and popularity. Its continued success is due in no small part to the volunteers who run the place on a daily basis.

One of the most striking things about the park is the close-knit community that has grown up around it.

Regular users Will and Lewis told us that, “Everyone here is friendly and watches out for each other. We have some simple rules that we’ve all come up with, but they are mostly about respecting each other.”

It is clear from what they told us that Hereford Skatepark is open to anyone who wants to use it as long as they don’t take the piss. This has meant that unlike most skateparks Hereford doesn’t have a curfew on the flood lights, meaning that hardcore addicts can BMX, skate or board all night if they fancy it.

Hereford Skatepark is leading the way, not only in its modern design and construction, but also with its organisation.

We look forward to the opening of phase five and the continued growth of this fantastic project.

Luther Blissett

Photos by Ed Deacon at Shooting Reels

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