Magic Jo got in touch to say: “Hey, was digging through my old skateboards and found a couple you guy might like – got a mint bilbo board which i think was the first ever skateboards made in europe with hobie wheels. And a slightly battered logan earth ski (think it was the first board with kryptonics) you want some pics etc let me know.”
Here’s a story for vintage skateboard lovers about the 1970s Brighton South Coast Skateboard Association.
As skateboarding became increasingly recognised as a genuine sport in the UK in the mid 1970s, more and more clubs started springing up all over the country.
One of the first skateboarding clubs in the UK and probably the biggest and best organised club at the time in Britain was the South Coast Skateboard Association.
From small beginnings in 1976, when the skateboard craze first hit the Brighton area, the S.C.S.A. mushroomed and had more than 1,200 active members. They ranged from Nationwide Skateboard Champion, Jock Paterson, to mere beginners in the sport — like three year-old Nicky Taylor.
Here’s how BBC TV’s Nationwide Skateboarding Spring Special magazine of 1978 used the story of setting up the club to inspire other skateboarders in the late 1970s to do the same in their area:
Brighton South Coast Skateboard Association
“The way South Coast skaters got organised is a lesson to other prospective groups around the country — and, in fact, the S.C.S.A. is getting appeals for advice on how to set up a club all the time.
“STAGE ONE Local skaters appealed for help at first from councils and later made a more general plea to the local people. Leaflets were posted through doors — and a meeting organised.
“STAGE TWO The meeting attracted interested adults as well as skateboarders and skateboard traders. There was a general discussion about the new sport – its popularity and its problems.
“STAGE THREE The open meeting agreed to elect a steering committee of thirteen members — people who were nominated by others, agreed to accept and received the most votes.”
“STAGE FOUR The steering committee organised a full executive committee with representatives from each area to be covered by one association. Rules and regulations – a constitution – were hammered out and committed to paper.
“STAGE FIVE The S.C.S.A. decided to have its own newsletter, ‘Off the Wall’, which would keep all of its members informed about what was going on in the local skateboard world.
“STAGE SIX The S.C.S.A. began to consolidate what it had. Three sub-committees were formed –one for fund-raising, one for organising competitions and one for liaison with local councils.
“Members of the South Coast Association pay £1 a year subscription, on which the S.C.S.A. makes a loss. For their money the skaters get free copies of the newsletter posted to them and reduced entry into any Competitions or training sessions the club organises. Like all skateboard organisations, the S.C.S.A. is short of facilities. At first, its members skated on an existing ramp near Brighton’s famous West Pier. They subsequently moved indoors to a Y.M.C.A. Community Hall, where three homemade ramps were attracting three and four hundred riders every Sunday at 20p for a two-hour session.
“Things are looking up, though, with both commercial and council skating facilities opening up. In fact, Brighton Council involved the S.C.S.A. fully in consultations on plans for a new park.
Said John Scholefield, S.C.S.A. Chairman: I don’t think any of us realised how much work the Association would demand from us. It’salmost a full-time job sometimes. “But it’s all worth it and very refreshing for those of us involved. Kids who would normally be out on the street aren’t — they come skateboarding with us instead. We get some of the young hoods with us but they never cause trouble. All they want to do is skateboard — and that’s why it’s so rewarding. “Skateboarding is a great sport and since the Association was formed, vandalism has dropped.”
“It seemed that the members of the South Coast Skateboard Association get real value for money — both in terms of enjoyment and support. But John Scholefield and the others who run the S.C.S.A. have their eyes set on greater things still. “Eventually we want to get sponsorship or some other means of financial support.” said John. “So we can give the kids everything — and charge them nothing.”
Some of the 1,200 members of the South Coast Skateboard Association.
Steven Kellner, Nationwide junior champion and another Brighton star, taking part in one of the club’s indoor events.
John Scholefield, champion and one of the founder-members of the South Coast Skateboard Association.
Behind every successful club is a hard-working editor of the club newspaper. Keeping members up-to-date with news is Melanie Lyons.
Three-year-old Nicky Taylor, youngest member of the club and already a star turn.
Credits: a rewording of an article from BBC TV’s Nationwide Skateboarding Spring Special 1978. Thanks to http://vintageskateboardmagazines.com for scanning, preserving and sharing their archive.
This video of UK Old School Skateboard, shared by r3d3
There’s some useful info in the comments…
Tojan Records: 03:18 Gillingham skate park riding “The Snake”. Half pipe in the background, spent many many days there skating then BMX’ing early 80’s.
23skullhead: These clips are from all sorts of sources, a cutdown of sections compiled in a film by Winstan Whitter called Rollin Through the Decades. Some of it is from other films and tv made back then, some if it is from super8 shot by various people which we transferred for Rollin’. There’s loads more brilliant and until then unseen footage in the film, shot by the likes of Dobie, Sean Goff and Sue Hazell. The dvd can still be picked up, so check it out.
orbeaaspin: Fantastic,nice to see Skatecity – just wish there was more
skullzero77: Wow what a blast from the past ,anyone remember the NationWide contest ? Still got all my stuff .Red 65 kryps and green 70s still smooth . Thanks for posting.
mollers92: My dad worked at Southsea skatepark in the 70s. I skated a modern deck when i was younger, but I was crap and never got on with it too well. Moved to uni this year and bought a cruiser just to get about on. This is what I was meant to do.
Seachicken: Nice memories. spent a lot of my time at a few of those parks. skate city/ westbourne park i think/ and the famous sth bank. 45 years old still with a board, still trying to find some white yoyo wheels to ride again
cyrus green: The longest halfpipe in europe at Guildford Skatestar is now a sad housing estate.
freddie j: dude thanks alot, you’ve shown to people that england skate just as good as americans!!
alfaromeoash: why did skateboard change to small hard wheels. My board was a fibreflex bowlrider, gullwing trucks and 70mm red kryps. It was a smooth board to ride around on and quick.
Skateboard Escape spatepark Weymouth was built when Weymouth succumbed early on to the thrills of the 1970s UK skateboarding craze. It was built with the help and encouragement of a local co-ordinator at the Youth Activities Centre, who was a keen skater himself. In winter the kids practised on the promenade, but in summer, with thousands of holiday visitors, that was out. What was needed was a skate park.
Local businessman Lorne Edwards had seen skate parks in the US, and found a semi-derelict site on Portland Island where building soon started.
Skateboard Escape is partly completed now, with a banked and waved run about 150′ long, and a 10′ bowl designed for beginners, plus two larger bowls and a freestyle area, and it’s very popular, with skaters travelling from as far away as London.
And there are further plans: next will come a 500m downhill run and – how about this for the last thing in skating luxury? – a continuous cable-pull back to the top. The new run should open some time in 1978, and is sure to open up a whole new dimension in UK skateboarding.
As more and more kids were taking up skateboarding, and more and more people were becoming aware of its popularity and potential, so more and more skate parks appeared all over Britain. And, as many councils moved kids to suitable skating areas.
Here’s a YouTube video clip posted by SURFSTYLEY4. It’s a news clip about skateboarding in England UK in 1978.
i mac comments that he was there aged 11. He went to revisit the Luton outdoor pool in 2013 after watching this vid on YouTube 34 years later. He said: “It’s now totally derelict and overgrown and I was informed at the pool it’s due to close permanently on 20th May 2013 and bulldozed will be gone forever.”
You’ll find the 3.5 acres of landscaped concrete that is Skate City London near Tower Bridge. Parts are open now, and there are ambitious plans for the site: it will be open from 10am to 9pm, with floodlighting for darker evenings; there will be a shop and cafe on site, plus seating and walkways for spectators. Plans are also afoot to cover the whole area with a huge clear plastic dome, so that skating can take place no matter what the weather is like. When you think of the disruption the rain caused at the Crystal Palace championships this year, you can see what a great advantage that would be!
Safety is at a premium, with expert help and supervision on hand at all times, and full safety gear must be worn by the 3,000 people who’ll be able to use the skatepark every day. What will they find? Three bowls of varying depths, a beginners’ area, a freestyle area, and a covered run (complete with disco music)!
John Sablosky is only 14, yet he’s one of the hottest skateboatders in Britain today. The funny thing about John is that two years ago he hadn’t even seen a skateboard.
“It was only last year that I discovered skateboarding.“ he explains. “l saw some kids doing it neat where I lived so l thought I’d join in. “My first board was very cheap. It cost about one pound and it wasn’t particularly good. It had a wooden deck, single axis trucks and clay composition wheels. Even so it gave me a useful start.”
A lesser person might have despaired of having to use such primitive equipment, but not John. He quickly taught himself the basic techniques of skating and within a very short mace of time had graduated to a better quality board.
In those early days John Sablosky was careful not to take too many risks
“I think a lot of beginners make the mistake of trying to do too much at once. As soon as they get on a skateboard they want to attempt impossible tricks, but that only leads to accidents.
“l never had any bad falls when l started because l never tried anything dangerous. As long as you keep within your limits in skating you’re quite safe. “Later on when you feel more at home on a skate- board you can try to be a bit more adventurous. But whatever tricks you try to do you should always make sure that you are in control of the board.”
And while still on the subject of safety vintage skateboard star John Sablosky has one other word of advice.
“No matter how good you are there’ll come a time when you have to bale out to avoid an accident. When you do this it’s very important to know exactly where your board is heading. I’ve seen a lot of people get hurt badly because they’ve baled out and then stepped right back on to the board. lf they’d only checked to see which way the board was going they could have avoided it.”
In spite of all the risks John doesn’t think that skate-boarding is a particularly dangerous sport. “As long as you’re careful and wear the right protective gear there’s no reason why you can‘t skate without getting hurt.
“I know there have been a lot of accidents, particularly in America, but most of these have been due to surface imperfections. What usually happens is you get kids riding on pavements that have cracks. A wheel gets caught in one of the cracks and the next thing you know the rider is flung off his board on to the ground. Accidents like that would never happen if there were more properly built skate parks available for the kids.”
Nowadays John does a lot of his riding at London’s Skate City. As one of the star riders of the British Hobie team he has a chance to use some of the best boards available in Britain today. The board he uses at present is a Gregg Weaver model.
“I prefer wooden boards because they’re nice and solid. They feel right under your feet. I know a lot of people go for aluminium boards, but personally l find they are too heavy for their size and too skinny for their weight. They also tend to make a loud noise when you turn sharply, which can be distracting. But the thing l like least about them is the way they handle when you’re doing airbornes. They tend to fly away from your arms, when you take off, so you really have to hold on tight. Also the edges can get sharp.
“Flexi-boards l find are too springy for my liking. l know some people select them because they think it helps them pump up speed, and it probably does, but l just feel happier with wood. l guess a lot depends on what you’re used to.”
Though most of John’s skating has been done in this country he is, in fact, an American. His father, who is the Cultural Attaché for the United States Information Service, is currently based in Britain. When his tour of service ends in three years time the Sablosky family will return to the States. But in the meantime John can enjoy his status as one of Britain’s leading skaters.
“l don‘t try to be better than anyone else.” says John modestly. “l just skate for the fun of it. l enjoy skating in England. but the only trouble is that it’s too dark, too rainy and there aren’t enough sunny days. English skaters are handicapped by the weather. In the States we have an advantage over you because we have more opportunities for outdoor skating.”
Which brings us to the all important question: how do British skaters compare with their American rivals? “At the moment there is a really big difference between American and British skaters. The Americans at present are far better because they have had so many more years of practice. But l think given time the British will catch up.
“I’ve seen a lot of good skaters in Britain with a lot of potential, but they need time to develop their skills. In a few years time l can see English skaters being just as good as American ones. If only England had better weather, you’d stand a much better chance against the Americans.”
Despite the shortcomings of the English climate John ha found enough outdoor skating time in this country to perfect a number of startling skateboard tricks. The latest in his repertoire is the “tail-tap.” a manoeuvre that tests board and rider to the full.
“A ‘tail-tap’ is really an extension of a ‘nose-grab’”, explains John. “In the ‘nose-grab, the rider pivots round on the back wheels. In the ‘tail-tap’ he actually pivots on the edge of the board itself. In other words for a split-second all four wheels are up in the air away from the ground.” “It’s my favourite trick at the moment because it’s so exciting to do. As you go into the turn it’s vitally important that you have the right momentum and balance. Because when you swing round you are literally pivoting on the tail of the board. If not enough pressure is applied you may end up only doing a straightforward ‘nose-grab.’ On the other hand if too much pressure is applied you can suddenly find yourself airborne. You can only know for certain that the trick is a success when you come out of the turn. l remember the first time l managed it l was really thrilled.”
John first discovered the ‘tailotap‘ through his friend and fellow-countryman Jeremy Ross-Dougan.
“Jeremy goes to the same school as I do in London. He’s taught me a lot of things in skating that I never knew before. We both competed in the Watergate International down in Cornwall last month and Jeremy came first in bowl- riding. He’s a very fast and stylish rider.”
For John the most enjoy- able part of skateboarding is bowl-riding. “I’m not really interested in speed.” he admits. “That’s something anybody can do. For me the real challenge is in bowl riding. It’s fun to do, but it’s also very demanding. You have to concentrate totally on what you’re doing Otherwise you can easily wipe out. “I suppose apart from ‘tail-taps’ the thing l enjoy most when I go bowl-riding is doing airbornes. An airborne is what happens when you fly off the lip of the bowl at full speed and then re-enter. At the moment I can get about a foot in the air without exerting any pressure on the wall with my hands or if I use my hands I can get up to about two feet. Of course the higher you get the harder it is for you to get a smooth re-entry.
“My advice to anyone trying this for the first time is to make sure you get a good grip of the board. Otherwise you might find it pitching and rolling a little as you approach touchdown. It sounds dangerous, but if you’re careful and you don’t try to go beyond your limits it’s really quite safe. I suppose the most dangerous place I ever rode was inside a pipe. It was really a totally new type of feeling for me, because before that I’d never been in anything where I could get completely inverted. It took a bit of getting used to, and it meant a lot of hard work for my feet to pump me up the sides of the wall, but in the end l got up to a good height – about one or two feet past the vertical.
“I would have liked to have had a second attempt at the pipe. But unfortunately the following week when I returned I found they had filled it in.” Inevitably critics of skate boarding have compared it to the other great teenage crazes of the past such as flagpole climbing and the hoola-hoop, bath of which enjoyed tremendous popularity for a short while before vanishing without trace.
John Sablosky, however, has no doubts that the skateboard is here to stay. “There’s no way that this is a passing craze,” he says, mildly amused at the impertinence of the suggestion.
“People like skateboarding too much and there are too many people liking it for it to go out of fashion. “The equipment nowadays is so good and has so many possibilities and we haven’t begun to realise the full potential of the sport. Every day people are coming up with new stunts and new techniques and they are becoming so good it’s just incredible.
“In another ten years skateboarding is going to be one of the biggest sports in the world. There’s no stopping it.
Watergate Bay skatepark Newquay was opened on 29th May 1977, overlooking the beach north of Newquay, Cornwall, and later that year the Watergate Bay Skateboard Contest was held there, attracting many competitors from the UK, and from America and Australia as well.
Watergate started out as a surfing centre, but when the people in charge saw the potential of skating, they built the skate park. It’s small: a short run-in with an 8′ concrete wave, and two bowls with 6′ walls, but there are plans for future expansion.
With the many amateur and pro riders who turned up for the 1977 contest, and the hundreds of spectators who watched, Watergate skatepark has helped put British meetings on the international skateboarding map.
Here’s a video of the 1970s skateboarding scene posted to YouTube by harvestentertainment
It shows vintage skateboarding footage from the late 1970’s via a piece of the ‘Go for It!’ film by Hal Jepsen and Wilt Chamberlain. Featured in this video are Tony Alva, Jay Adams, Wentzel Rumel, Paul Constantineau and more.
The main music track on the video is “Cosmosis” by The Dragons.
Jock Paterson believes in an eye-catching start to his freestyle routine. He launches himself and his board into the air and as soon as he hits the ground moves immediately into his first sequence.
Jock Paterson was a UK Nationwide Champion of skateboarding at the Skatecity venue in December 1977. He ‘s a keep-fit fanatic who enjoys surfing off Brighton beach.
There were a lot of smiling faces when it was announced that Jock Paterson was Nationwide’s Supreme Skateboard Champion – and they weren’t all from 20 year-old Jock’s supporters from Brighton. Because if the Nationwide Championship could have been won by sheer determination and dedication, Jock would have surged to victory way ahead of anyone else. As it was, Jock took the top prize with an all-round display of skateboard skills which brought him two first places — in slalom and freestyle – and third place in the speed event. But his preparation for the final at Skatecity was unbeatable anyway. Jock, who doesn’t drink or smoke, went on a special diet of mainly steak and milk to build himself up for his biggest test. Every morning before breakfast, he was out in his home town of Brighton training and trying to perfect his tricks. Jock’s main worry was his freestyle but he worked constantly on developing a smooth routine – a formula that brought him success. “I’m not too hot at freestyle,” said Jock, “so I knew I had to really work at it to get anywhere in the competition. It was a fantastic feeling to win the championship.”
Jock is best-known for his ability in slalom. His ambition is to be world slalom champion — and soon after his Nationwide triumph Jock had the opportunity to pick up some tips from an expert. “I went to the States for a couple of weeks and I was able to train with John Hutson, the world slalom champion. He’s amazing and I learnt a lot from him. But I’m keeping it all to myself – because I want to win! “It’s an incredible scene over there. They’re just so hot and every skatepark has about twenty Tony Alvas ripping it up. I’m hoping that one day soon l’II be able to take part in competitions in the States — but I’ll need to train a bit more for that.”
Will British skaters ever be as good as the Americans? “Well, they can’t go on into infinity,” said Jock. “Maybe we’ll catch them up because some of the English kids are really good. We’ve got some really hot pool riders – so who knows?”
Nationwide was a BBC television series broadcast in the 1970s on BBC 1 each weekday following the early evening news. It followed a magazine format, combining political analysis and discussion with consumer affairs, light entertainment and sports reporting and in October 1977 it launched the first televised National Skateboarding Championships. There were regular Skateboarding slots on the programme and a series of regional heats for the competition. The final was held in December at London’s newly built Skate City with competitors split into three age groups and taking part in Freestyle, Slalom and Speed. The overall champion was Jock Paterson.
Credits: a rewording of an article from BBC TV’s Nationwide Skateboarding Spring Special 1978. Thanks to http://vintageskateboardmagazines.com for scanning, preserving and sharing their archive.