Seasoned skaters will know that it isn’t the line or the gap that defines a skate spot — it’s the people who look after it, the locals, who will make a skate spot great. Skate scenes can be hard to break into, with most circles quite tightly knit and exclusive. This can discourage young people from getting into skating, as without people to encourage them, they have no reason to go back after their first attempt.
Guernsey is a small island with a population of just 66,000, but what the island lacks in size it makes up for in community between skateboarders and BMX riders. Decades without any form of skate park forced all of those with a passion for skating out onto the streets and carparks of the island.
Here, they formed a community of like-minded enthusiasts who strived to make Guernsey more skate friendly. We spoke to one of those enthusiasts, skate and surf brand Yakwax’s Liam Gleeson, who told us all about the skate scene in Guernsey — he does not fudge his words!
Finding Guernsey’s skate spots
Guernsey’s urban architecture has changed over the last 15 years, and a crop of new street spots and privately built backyard ramps pop up quite regularly. The smooth granite surfaces and marble ledges featured in the modern design of our banks and plaza-type areas really lend themselves to skateboarding — they’re what every skater looks for. The same banks and commercial areas, however, aren’t so keen on skateboarding, and often hire security to rid the area of skaters and prevent damage to the properties and surroundings. Sometimes you can have a hard time being able to skate these areas, and it may even result in getting tickets or fines from the police.
Pop-up skate parks
Over the years I have been skateboarding, Yakwax has always helped to arrange the pop-up skate parks that have been built for specific events or demos. We built a fairly large-scale skate park for an event called “Lib Jam”. This event brought over a few UK pros and was a real hit locally. You can watch a short YouTube video of some of the Lib Jam highlights here.
A park to call our own
The park we built was then relocated to a school carpark over the summer holiday period, which held Guernsey’s first proper skateboard competition. Another major skateboarding development in Guernsey was when we were allowed usage of a temporarily unused warehouse, which was former B&Q. This was a really great all-year round skate spot and place to hang out — it was instrumental in forming a lot of the friendships between the now older skateboarders.
Years later, this would play a key part in the opening of the Jubilee Skatepark in Guernsey. Skaters of all ages petitioned and worked to get a skate park built here for over 20 years. Issues with funding, planning permission and locations all delayed the park’s build and opening, but it was all worth it when the park was finally completed in June of 2014.
The next generation
With the skatepark now going into its third year, a younger generation of skateboarders have emerged and are starting to create their own scene. Trends are always changing in skating, and the younger guys view skateboarding differently to the older generation in regards to tricks and what is possible on different obstacles. The evolution of skateboarding has been accelerated with the growth of the internet, and it is now super easy to view videos from all around the world of people coming up with new tricks and manoeuvres.
Some of the younger kids here are skating really well. This is due to them having the facilities to practice on and having a place that they can go to watch the older, more-experienced guys skate. We sponsor a few of the promising younger guys through the shop, supplying them with discounted product to aid their progression and posting photos and videos of them on our social media channels to give them some exposure — we do whatever we can to benefit the skateboard scene here in Guernsey.
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