Wednesday, 20 March 2013

In the archives: Livingston Skate Park

One of the few world class facilities that we have in Livingston is the Livingston “Livi” skate park, which in 2010 was ranked in the top 25 skate parks in the world (outside of the US) according to one Complex Magazine (see the web article here).
Given that Livingston has such a facility, and that is was built at the end of the 1970s, which fits in with the picture of Livingston we are trying to build up, I thought I would look at the history of the skate park in this post.

This letter from 1977 shows the Livingston Skate
Kats lobbying for a skate park in Livingston

Having grown up friends who were skateboarders, it feels like the sport has been around forever, but really skateboarding only reached the UK towards the middle of the 1970s. Following this rocketing in popularity, and the fact it outlived being just a craze - the Livingston Development Corporation began to look at building a skate park in Livingston – they were especially interested as the new town had few facilities for young people. In 1977 the Livingston skate club formed – The Livingston Skate Kats (who later changed the name to, more simply, “Livingston Skates”. The Kats, and especially founding member Kenneth Omond (who now sits on the board of Skateboard Scotland) were very good at communication and lobbying the Corporation about building a skate park. Considerations about pedestrian safety and road accidents  persuaded the Corporation that providing a skate park would be a good idea.
After several false starts the Corporation finally settled on a site near the newly developed Almondale Shopping Centre, near the River Almond in the centre of Livingston. The initial park consisted of an “outside rink of convoluted shape used for skating and skateboarding” with the layout being one bowl and one half-pipe run-off.  The half pipe was constructed with “100mm thick concrete skin sprayed on using Shortcrete System.”
The Skatepark proved a runaway success.  In September 1991 the Board of the Corporation heard that “the provision of skatebowl has proved to be a tremendous success, encouraging young people interested in the sport to develop their skills and enjoyment.” The site was repaired and upgraded in the late 1980s, and expanded in 1992 to ease congestion of spectators, improve water drainage and the adding of another bowl. The improvements were designed to give Livingston “the premier European Skate Park.” The Development Corporation put the costs of the original site in 1980 at £65,000 whilst the extension in 1992 cost £75,000. The skate park continues to this day as a world class venue and plans were announced by West Lothian council to spend £250,000 on upgrading it once again in 2012.  
Because the skate park was initally designed by the Corporation, we hold all kinds of maps, plans and technical data relating to the construction of the park. Even until the early 2000s we would get all kinds of enquiries asking about how it was built and for technical specifications from other areas keen to emulate one of the great successes of Livingston, something that was not even considered when construction began on the town in the 1960s - its skate park.

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