Hi guys, could you give us a little history of the park?
The park was built around '98 by a guy I used to do a fair bit of park building work with when I'd left school and it was him that got us over to The Edge as it was known back then for the first time as it was being finished.
It's been through 5 owners before Sam and myself I think. Sam and I came about owning the park after the whole fallout at Flo had finished. Basically I was up north building 4 Motion in Darlington and Tom called me from Flo, as he was still managing the place to say the owners had come in and were closing the park. Flo Nottingham also owned Boardroom in Leicester; after Dave King the owner of Boardroom called me asking if Flo would be interested in buying the park off him in January of 2013. This meant that as Flo closed its doors Boardroom would also close.
Sam North, who I've known since skating around the Melton area as a kid, had been over and got involved with the whole Flo Skateparks thing and was running Boardroom and continued to do so after I'd left the company. I called him from Darlington to chat and we decided that "we" (meaning him as I wasnt on speaking terms with Flo's owners) could probably do a deal to keep Boardroom going. Sam did the "deed" and that was it. That was in February 2014.
Louis Browne Tailbone transfers. Photo: Tom Quigley
Could you take us through the process of the recent closure and reopening?
Not sure what the recent closure and reopening you speak of is all about we've been here for 3 years now and only closed for the rebuild last year just before xmas for 3 weeks. although it often feels like we are on the brink of closing throughout the whole summer time.
You refit the skatepark recently, what did you change and how did you decide what to put in?
We ran into a bit of a drama two winters ago where scooter numbers were down, which were keeping the park going previously, skate numbers were also pretty poor. This was all due to the fact the park's layout was pretty tired and if you didn't grow up skating that layout it seemed totally insane. We decided that we needed to re-design and build a park that we wanted to skate that had some room to push in if possible. Having built the park in Nottingham and being forced out due to some serious behind the scenes disagreements it was important for me personally to build a good layout here and give our most loyal customers the park that we felt had the best chance of being busy and popular enough to survive. If it didn't work we would at least be closing the park we built and had given it our best go which is all you can do; we really didn't want to walk away from somebody else's tired business having babysat it for a year.
The design process was straight forward enough in that we sat down with all the lads several times and decided we wanted a hip and a ledge with pushing room and that the other areas could just be tweaked and improved. Thats basically what we did. It took 3 weeks of some mental long days a few arguments and loads of help from all the locals and we were done with a week to go before Christmas 2015.
Co-Owner Sam North 5-0s up. Photo: Tom Quigley
One of the best looking things at the park is the vert wall, which I believe was cut down at some point? Has this made that wall more accessible to hit whilst also skating the rails / ledges?
The vert wall used to be pretty much right up to the ceiling many years ago and was just a good wall ride really with a little quarter set in the front of it to gap over. It's been 8' high since it was changed though which was a few years ago now. We left it as is when we rebuilt because it is a good feature and works well for controlling your speed whether skating the hip or the ledge and rails and of course it can be used as a vert wall for all those vert and ramp stunts...
What would you say is the biggest challenge you've faced since running the park?
The biggest challenge for us has been getting the Skate School numbers up and keeping the youngsters coming in. The older guys and all the lads in and around the Get Lesta scene support us heaps but its getting the younger less experienced people in at the right time so the park isnt intimidating for them to get into. Being a small park it feels a bit like all eyes are on you when you ride there so getting beginner sessions set up and populated has been crucial to us. Also being injured and working the park i find really tough at times especially when its cold. Im injured a lot too. We also have "normal day jobs to pay all the bills and keep the significant others happy. Sam pregnancy scans Cows all year which is gnarly and Im a builder so full days on site then running the park in the evening does make for some long days but we wouldn't have it any other way.
Finally, what's the best thing about running a skatepark?
The best thing about running the park has to be skating with all the lads that come down and the teaching of skateboarding to youngsters is hugely rewarding. Our Sunday skate school mornings are amazing and its great to see how quickly they can learn at such a young age. I personally get a lot of enjoyment out of watching my lad Oscar who's 5 skating and interacting with all the rad guys we get down the park and watching him soaking it all up is fascinating.
Chris Straw Ollies to fakie on the venerable Broom miniramp. Photo: Tom Quigley