An end of an era. Demolishment has begun of the old skatehouse premises and its about time too. It’s incredibly frustrating when business’s and tenants are asked to leave and then the buildings are left sitting there for years! Which is the case with skatehouse previous home on the pheonix estate. Over 2 years was sitting there doing nothing. It was a very symbolic time for me seeing this building works starting and an opportunity to reflect on some memories of this magical place next to the River Ouse.
Skatehouse closed its doors on the phoenix estate at the end of summer 2016 due to redevelopments. I remember giving back the keys and calling jordi to cry down the phone. It was a surreal time as all the business on that side of the phoenix were clearing out, there were fires happening to get rid of old wood and lots of activity as people took there belongings and moved onto whatever they had planned next.
Skatehouse future was looking bright at this time we had just created a successful campaign with the help of many including phoenix rising and local councillors such as Jo Carter. By making a petition on change.org we were able to get 4,000+ signatories to save the skatehouse from its closure. We marched this campaign upto the local council offices and were able to persuade lewes district council to see some worth in this indoor community skatepark. We were allocated £530,000 to build a new indoor skatepark in Newhaven which was a relief to know that the skatehouse could live on past its day in Lewes. The closure of this park did not feel so gloomy knowing there was something to look forward to in whatever shape and form that would take.
We held a closing event for our final jam which was over a weekend with a day dedicated to skateboarding and another day for the scooters. We gave out alot of merchandise and local companies donated prizes.
I held a mosaic skateboard workshop out the front of the building in the glorious sunshine.
It was a great weekend and also sad knowing it was the end. Skatehouse was more than your ordinary indoor park it was run entirely by volunteers who were a part of the community and connected to wheeled sports in one way or another. It combined skateboarding, scooting, bmx all under one roof and it done it well, people always comment on what a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere the skatehouse was and the reason it was like that is that we were all so passionate about it being that way. Skateboarding is growing and evolving into an olpympic sport which is great news and a success for the sport, I think this encourages young people to reach for their dreams and also encourages peers and elders within the skateboarding community to fix up and be the role models that young people so desperately need amongst the chaos of a street based activity. Talking from experience if there were more noble peers in my earlier years then, well who knows what but maybe it wouldn’t have felt so cold out on those streets you know.
Through the help of skateboard england, we were able to get our skatecoach qualifications at the Brighton youth centre.
Skatehouse had many many people through its doors and many lessons were learnt. It was a DIY project which showed me the power of community and working towards a common goal can bring great joy and benefit to hundreds if not thousands of people.
Moving forwards into present times we are in negotiations with local health and leisure provider Wave Leasure to provide an indoor wheeled sports/ multi-sports centre in Newhaven.
Skatehouse still offers a portable ramp service ran by volunteers outreaching in the local community bringing skateboards, ramps and coaches, getting young people on boards and into skateparks!