Watergate Bay skatepark Newquay – 1970s UK skateparks

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.

Watergate Bay skatepark Newquay in 1977, from Successful Skateboarding Magazine 1977 with thanks to http://vintageskateboardmagazines.com
Watergate Bay skatepark Newquay in 1977, from Successful Skateboarding Magazine 1977 with thanks to http://vintageskateboardmagazines.com

Zboys galore in this ‘Go for It’ vintage skateboarding mid-late 1970s clip

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

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.

Jock Paterson. Skateboarding in Brighton in 1977. Photo is probably BBC Copyright
Jock Paterson. Skateboarding in Brighton in 1977. Photo is probably BBC Copyright

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.

Jock Paterson, Brighton 1977. Photo is probably BBC Copyright
Jock Paterson, Brighton 1977. Photo is probably BBC Copyright

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.

Vintage 1978 West of England skateboard video

Here’s a video of the 1970s skateboarding scene in the west of England. It was filmed around 1978, possibly as part of a technical college project. Its title is Truckin’ – Uk Skateboarding c 1978

It includes various West Country skaters and teams, plus the Southbank Undercroft, Flamingo skatepark in Redruth, Watergate Bay skatepark, Holywell Bay skatepark, Exmouth indoor skatepark, and the Royal Horticultural Hall trade show in London (12-15 February 1978).

Desert Rat wrote on the YouTube comments in response that: “At 7:25 you have just bought back great memories of my childhood. I spent way too much time at Exmouth Indoor Skate Centre. The main bowl looks smaller than i remember but then again i was a grubby little 13 year old.”

The main music track on the video is Birdland by Weather Report.

Barry Walsh interviewed in issue 1 of the 1977 magazine Skateboard Scene

Barry Walsh as interviewed in issue 1 of the magazine “SKATEBOARD SCENE” – the radical read for radical riders (45p) – by Willie Samson.

We kick off our first issue with Barry Walsh’s interview. Barry isn’t the slalom champ of Bexhill. Nor did he invent a new hydrolastic nylon bearing to revolutionise the world’s wheel design. Barry can ride a board, but he admits he’s no ace. He hasn’t the time to practice. Because he spends every spare minute and a lot that aren’t spare working in the interests of skateboarding. He’s the chairman of the first non-profit making organisation in British riding, the Skateboard Association (BSA).

Barry Walsh is a trim young guy of about twenty-five (in 1977). A journalist by profession, his official title is Research Press Officer of the British Safety Council. When I spoke to him, he was on his way to an afternoon session with the DJ’s of London’s Capital Radio he was organising a Safe Driving Week which involved him starting work at 5.30 am and working through till 6.00 pm. Then he started his normal duties… Nevertheless, he somehow found time to talk to ‘Skateboard Scene’ about his involvement in the sport, his view of its future and his fears regarding its commercialisation by unscrupulous businessmen.


WS How did you first become aware of skateboarding as a ”sport”

BW l used to do some football coaching in the evenings and suddenly kids started turning up at the ground on skateboards. That was about eighteen months ago. It sort of seized my interest from the start. Then, because I was working for an organisation which promoted safety, I couldn’t help noticing the outcry of certain other bodies against the sport. There’d been twelve or so deaths in the USA and that caused a lot of adverse criticism over here. I thought it was unjustified criticism.

WS You don’t feel that skate board riding is dangerous?

BW It’s like anything else. It’s dangerous if it isn’t properly controlled. The deaths in the USA were the result of traffic accidents 7 kids riding the wrong gear in the wrong place and coming into confrontation with lorries etc. There’s nothing intrinsically dangerous about skateboarding that education can‘t put right.

WS So you felt that ROSPA’s attempts to ban skateboarding were wrong.

BW Yes, but I don’t want to knock ROSPA. Since they’ve understood that riding is a real sport, they’ve been great. You can’t blame them for getting uptight in the early days. Remember that the first safety equipment hit the market about a year after the first board. That’s a frightening gap. It was irresponsible of the manufacturers and importers of boards to allow that situation to develop. The horror stories from America made things worse, parents got worried and the sport suffered. Skateboarding was just a street mess a dangerous rip-off.

WS How did the BSA first begin?

BW Well. (Walsh is a modest man – Ed.) Er, in my capacity as an official of the British Safety Council, I was made officially aware that skate-boarding existed and that it was potentially dangerous if the right influences weren’t exerted from the start. So l organised a general meeting of the interested parties at the Sports Council HQ in London. There were manufacturers present and riders and clubs and importers. And it was agreed that some sort of governing body was required to steer the development of the sport. A couple of guys – Vince Fitzgerald of The Source and Arthur Howard of Skatopia – volunteered themselves as chairmen.

Bristol Skateboard Centre in 1977

Bristol Skateboard Centre was a magnet for West Country skateboarders in the late 1970s. They stocked a good range of brands like Bennett, Hobie and Alligator Wheels. Some of the boards on display in the photo of the shop look pretty long. Precursors to today’s longboards?

Profile of 1970s US skateboard star Mike Weed

Mike Weed was one of the great all-round American skateboarders of the 1970s and some say the most photographed around the US circuit. His style and balance drew cameramen to him. They knew where to go for the best action shots.

Fitness, Mike feels, was the key to his success. He spent literally hours a day perfecting his mind-blowing tricks. To him, walking the dog was like he was ripping it out of a machine gun! Given half a chance though he’d pick his way along to more radical terrains. Genuine pools and pipe-lines were attractions he simply couldn’t resist, even though he was the first to admit that skateparks were the greatest thing to happen to skateboarding since the development of the urethane wheel. Mike Weed demonstrated safety techniques and tested new products when working for Hobie. Whilst at home this 18-year-old (in 1977) skate-star got off on his guitar playing and a mania for good organic food.

Here are some of Mike Weed’s contest results, as listed in 1977 by the UK Skateboarder magazine:
1st place. Arizona State. Pro Free-style1975;
3rd place. LA Costa. Pro Slalom;
3rd place. Long Beach World Contest. Pro Free-style;
3rd place . Carlsbad World Contest. Bowl Riding:
lst place. Carlsbad World Contest. Flatland Free-style. l975;
1st place. Pro Free- style A Ventura State Championship:
1st place. Pro Free-style 7 Northern California. Pro-Am;
1st place. Pro Free-style 7 Belmont South Bay Open;
2nd place. Pro Free-style – Long Beach World’s Invitational.
Film Roles: Goin’ Surfin’, Downhill Motion and the award-winning film The Magic Rolling Board. Five Summer Stories, Mike also featured in a TV soft drink commercial.

This was re-worded from an article in 1977 Skatboarder magazine.

RIP Mike Weed 1958-2014

The £15 Coyote precision engineering vintage skateboard ad

This ad for the budget Coyote complete skateboard from 1977 shows a board that many who had saved their pocket money for a skateboard, but couldn’t afford to build one from individual components, would end up buying. This model probably shifted a few units during the 1970s UK skateboard craze because of its low price. So enjoy this bit of nostalgia…