Hackney Bumps skatepark is revived – thanks to a local community effort

Hackney Bumps after the renovation. Pic: Greg C. Holland

Hackney Bumps skatepark rises from the ashes after two local skaters took on the regeneration project. The place is now fully rideable after 10 months of DIY work by the local community

London hosts many famous skateparks, such as Southbank Skate Space and House of Vans, which can feel intimidating for newcomers. Located in Daubeney Fields, Hackney Bumps is not one of these. “There is a proper community down there,” said Nick Tombs, 33, local skater and co-founder of the regeneration project. Along with a team of local volunteers, Tombs refurbished and resurfaced the skatepark, which is now used by both locals and famous skaters:  “We managed to naturally create a friendly and diverse atmosphere. It’s not just hardcore skaters: there are parents and kids on boards, girls skating – that’s great.”

Built in 1986 and also home to BMX riders, the skatepark had never been invested in – or even cleaned – until now. The ground became rough and almost dangerous to ride, until eventually it was abandoned for years. “The place was seen as a ‘skate spot’ more than a skatepark,” said Sam Charlton, 24, founder of the local skate shop Boardwall Supply Co and volunteer on the project. “It was so difficult to skate that doing anything there was impressive. It wasn’t a nice place to hang out, so people wouldn’t stay long.”

Nick and his work partner Greg King, 40, decided to renovate the Bumps, as it did not seem anybody else was planning to do it. “We felt it was an emergency; we had to do something,” said Nick. “We knew that if nobody did something within the next five years, it was going to be destroyed.”

In February 2019, they began to gather the community together, sharing ideas on how to revamp the Bumps, analysing the challenges and, finally, contacting the Council’s service King’s Park Moving Together. This is a Sport England fund to improve health through physical activities in local communities. But time passed and nothing happened. “We built this amazing proposal, ticked all their boxes and it got to the point where they were hindering us and holding us back,” Daryl Nobbs, an expert in building and designing skateparks who took part on the project, told Grey Skate Mag

When the first lockdown happened, Greg and Nick could not work anymore so they decided to give the regeneration project a go. “We were like, ‘Let’s go and polish the bumps, let’s start building and see what happens,’” said Nick. “With the expertise of Daryl, we had the confidence to do it. We went down every day for three months straight, going one hour each.”

Hackney Bumps after the renovation. Pic: Greg C. Holland

A DIY work by the community for the community 

During lockdown, a team of local volunteers took part of the project and helped them polish the Bumps. “It’s just something deep in skateboard culture. If someone is restoring or building something to skate, you give everything you got to that cause without a moments thought,” said Sam.

The project has been self-financed by the community through crowdfunding. The money helped pay for professionals to finish the work when volunteers had to go back to work after lockdown. 

Over the summer, the group hosted free skate lessons for anybody who wanted to join and developed Hackney’s skateboarding community. “The skatepark has now become a place where young children come when they are first learning to ride a skateboard,” said Sam. It is also a place for “young skaters, [who are] getting better and better, hanging out with friends, socialising… using the medium of skateboarding to develop social skills is a very useful thing for young people to have,” he said. Some older people come too, Sam said, those “who have fewer and fewer places to blow off steam for exercise and mental health.”

Nick is proud of what he and others have achieved at the Bumps : “A lot of people came to me and said this place had been a lifesaver over lockdown, it’s been really great to hear.”

They now have ambitions to extend the renovation to the next level: adding water fountains, benches to sit on, a flat place to practice, a cafe. But above all, they want to make it even more inclusive to the community.

“Skateparks have always been places where people from every walk of life can go and share a common interest, which is just riding whether it’s a board, a scooter, a BMX or whatever,” said Tom Fuller, 34, local skater who also volunteered on the project. “It’s important to have places like that, that unite us all.”

Hackney Bumps skatepark is located in Daubeney Playground, Clapton, London E9 5PP and is normally open 24/7. However, the national lockdown restrictions currently do not allow skateparks to operate – keep an eye on the Hackney Bumps website for updates.

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