Seeing how rad the DIY section at Empire was looking, we got in contact with Jack Kenward, one of the main guys behind the development of the spot. For a full gallery of work in progress photos, click here!
Philippe da Rosa over Jack Kenward, photo: Monkeyglove Matt
Hey Jack, how'd you initially get involved with this project?
Yo Hangup whats crackin! Hope you're good!
So I worked for Potter (Carl Wilson) as he was managing the park when it very first opened. It's now owned by my homies Lewis and Harry and although I don't work there anymore it's still my home and those two have killed it maintaining such a decent hub for skaters around the area. We all know skater run skateparks are hard to maintain financially, so I'm just stoked to help where I can. But basically I've been part of the furniture since day one down there.
The First Pour
You're the only skatepark in the country with an outdoor concrete section I believe, Central in Manchester had one but they closed down, and The House in Sheffield has one but indoor. Yours looks alot bigger than both! What made you guys want to begin such a massive undertaking?
Really? I wasnt aware of that? Thats pretty dope if that is the case! Hyped!
To be honest at the time we first started, four or so years ago, I think we all thought we were in for a bit more of a money maker and were going to eventually have it built by professionals. We pretty quickly learned that this wasn't the case after being stung with a horrendous bill for moving a bit of dirt and filling some cages by some hash smoking rip off merchant.
Is it all self funded apart from this last Go Fund Me campaign? Care to detail how you guys managed to fund it all?
Ah the go fund me was madness i couldnt believe it! Thanks to you guys for sharing that shit and everyone that contributed to the cause. It definitely couldn't have got there without you all!
Apart from the above this project has been completely self funded. We've had so many donations and people wanting to give us cement, sand and everything! It's been amazing seeing the help people have to offer, real humbling man. People are sick! The sick ones anyways!
One time, I was working away in Tokyo. At this stage we had no crete down, just a mud outer shell as it were. I woke up at 3.30am to a facebook message from Harry saying Ben (big up) had over ordered a few cube and had turned up at the park with it. When I returned back from that trip was when iI thought "Right lets have this fucker!" Many a youtube video was undertaken at this stage just trying to improve my knowledge about concrete and how that shit works.
Carl Wilson Back Smiths the extension, look at that coping! Photo: Monkeyglove Matt
How did you fit in building in between the day to day running of the park? Was it all volunteers or did you get any professionals in?
So the Outback has always been a no go for general public so we've always just been able to crack on whenever out there. There's been times it's been difficult like filling buckets up from the toilet sink with poly cups then having to run them through the park. Building has been mainly weekends really, I work full time and pretty long hours so we did a few small pours and little bits and bobs in the evening but really got stuck in over the weekends!
How did you decide on the layout of the place? Proper plan or build as you go?
Mate I have absolutely no idea. Literally build and go if it doesn't look like it's gonna work knock it out and make it work.
Like that whole back section with the flat bank and hips just 8 weeks ago that was going to be a long straight 5ft quarter. It's mad how things changed. The fear that we were building a monster that wasn't gonna work was awful! Now we've all broken her in and she works like a dream! Relief!
Mark Munson textbook Crails, front foot! Photo: Monkeyglove Matt
You opened it up for Lord of the Swords this last Bank Holiday weekend right? How'd that go down?
Yooo big up lords of the swords and Luke for getting that shit organised. I can only imagine how much of a nightmare it must be! So yeah luke! Big man tings! Well done!
We opened after 6pm on the saturday of lords and it was fucking special for me man! I imagined that day sitting back, sipping a beer watching people shred it and it was actually a dream come true! Everyone went in that night! I stayed away from my board I was just happy to watch. Sick night! Sick crew!
Gnarliest thing to go down so far?
Alot happened that night man. Potter's frontside invert was mental! J Thaxx obviously destroyed the thing within 5 minutes of stepping off the plane from CPH. Jordan Sharkey blew my mind with a torrent of mental flippery on the flat bank! But it's early days. If it goes how I want we gonna witness a lot of shit go down!
Jordan Thackeray Stalefishes during Lord of the Swords. Photo: Paul Jackson
When does it open to the public?
How long is a piece of string! As you can imagine insurance companies love a completely un regulated DIY bowl. But I think we aim to get some sort of safety barrier around the outside and secrectly I think we want a month or so to ourselves. Gotta give it a little bit for complete selfish enjoyment! (Sorry public)
Can you think of any particular reason why Essex has such a good DIY building scene at the moment? I know there's at least 3 major builds out there already?
Because Essex is the absolute shit! Im not even from here and im backing it 100%. 10 years deep in the land of the triple sword now! Good scene and alot of hard workers that wanna put the love into skateboarding! Sick area mate.
Can i do some thanks?? Im gonna do some thanks.
So my super super badman special thanks go to my three right hand men that have stuck it with me from the start that's Harry Wilson, Warren Munson and Mr Toby Gozzett
I also wanna thank Lewis for maintaining that shit and keeping it open as well as Harry again. Paul Carroll (delside) for being an absolute wizard of bodgery and getting stuck in on those tricky panels and Stephen Barrow (the spot) for coming and helping, both those guys shared so much knowledge with me! That shits dope I appreciate that. Everyone else that had got stuck in, contributed, donated and so on. If I was to list them all you'd have no room left in the mag! You're all fucking Gs and we couldn't have got through it without you all! FOR ENGLAND!! FOR NARNIA!! ONE LOVE!!!
Drone shot of the finished article!
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