Upton Skatepark, Upton, UK.
Everyone wishes for a local indoor park to ride. The people in Upton, England made it work. We put Ben Manuel in front of the microphone and had him talking about his local park.
FATBMX: What's the name of the park?
Ben Manuel: It's called Upton skatepark, it's named after the village that I live in.
FAT: How long have you lived there?
Ben: I used to live in Upton for a couple of years ago and previous to that I lived there for like twenty years. It's a nice little community, quite rural. We just dropped on a unit that was ideal for building a skatepark in.
FAT: How many people did you have to ride with when you grew up?
Ben: Quite a few. There was a good 10-15 kids riding when I started riding but through the years it went down to just a couple and then obviously more locals come and go. I've seen quite a progressive stream of riders from neighboring areas come through.
FAT: It's everyone's plan to have a local skatepark but how did you guys manage to pull it off?
Ben: Basically we ended up getting a skatepark due to a mutual business deal with another guy who used to own a local bike shop. He wanted to build a skatepark on the basis of making money whereas from my point of view an my dad's, we just wanted a place to ride for me and the locals, because we had nowhere to ride. It kind of set off on a basis of having somewhere to ride for the skaters and bikers.
FAT: Is it profitable or isn't that the goal?
Ben: No, it's not profitable at all. Anybody who thinks they're going to open up a skatepark and make money must be fooled. People who do it are doing it for the love of the sport. Everything we do at our skatepark is completely voluntary. No one takes a wage. We make enough money to pay the rent, electricity and that was the sole plan from the beginning. Here we are, seven years down the line, we've got a good scene, we've got good locals, we've got a good skatepark and things are looking bright.
FAT: How often do you get to change the layout of the ramps?
Ben: We change it quite regularly. The place is pretty small and we have to cater for everyone's needs, and that being bikers and skaters and everything else so I try to change it every six months. I'll change the ramps around and make a different design up. The ramp are such a good design, it's a little bit like Mecano, you can actually build different sections and change it. I want to keep it interesting for the locals so they don't get bored and obviously it's better for me to change it every six months as well.
FAT: So it's skateboarding, inline and BMX, no restrictions?
Manuel: We cater to everybody, wheelchairs, Zima frames (laughter) so everyone has somewhere to ride.
Thanks Ben and good luck with the park.