As you may have guessed by now, our regular 'Favourites' interviews are having a week off, instead we are bringing you the full interview from the 'Rather Ripped' article in the latest issue of the mag, covering the recent all-nighter at The Ripped, Ravensthorpe, as well as highlighting the parks constant struggle to remain open.
Have a read of what Ryan, aka DJ Livewire, from the park has to say now, with scattered video footage from the parks history and photography from the all-nighter by Silent Will.
Daryl Nobbs feels the fresh air on his pivot antics. Photo: Silent
Can you give us a brief history of The Ripped for those that might be unaware of the parks history? When and why it opened, why you chose the location, who was originally involved etc...
The Ripped has been open on and off now for just over two years. It was originally a skatepark called Aggro Verts which ran for over seven years until it fell into such a bad state of repair and lacking of funds that it was eventually forced to shut down in 2005. A couple of month down the line, a group of illegal immigrants broke in and squatted in the place, ripping up the ramps to burn to keep warm through winter until the police found out and stormed the building.
The legend that is Snoz found out that all the remaining wood from inside the building was to be ripped out and the place to be turned into a car garage in about March/April 2006. He went down to ask the landlord if there was any chance he could have the wood or possibly take on the building to start a new skatepark from fresh, which was agreed to. He called up an old mate Simy for a bit of financial backing, then the pair got started on building a brand new, truly unique skatepark, with the help of Sangy, myself and a few others here and there. After about a nine months of solid building, the park held a massive opening jam on the 12th January 2007, with over 160 skaters turning out through the day.
There has been a few changes over the past couple of years, but the park has stayed true to itself and remains one of the most hardcore underground skateparks around, and is run for the love, not the money (even though the money helps!)
Between the park opening and now, how much have things changed?
Since then there has been loads of changes with the park. It's had a few extensions put in, it's changed management a few times, it's had the lead stolen off the roof, it's shut down and re-opened.
We now have a skate shop set up, hold regular skate jams and music events, and to be honest, the place feels like more than just a skatepark now, it feels like home (and not just because I live in t'back room). It's a place where you can come and actually chill out as well as get your shred on. We don't have many rules and we want people to feel free to do what ever they want in the park, within reason. It's got the blood, sweat and tears of myself and a lot of our locals screwed into every surface which makes the place that bit more special and gives it a good community feel which it didn't have when it first opened.
Can you talk us through what is locally referred to as 'The Ripped Disaster' back in 2008 which resulted in the park being almost completely flooded? What exactly happened, how close to closure did it bring you and how did you overcome it?
Argh, 'The Ripped Disaster' - what a shitty time that was! Back in April 2008, just at the start of all the heavy rain fall and most of the country being held under floods, we were starting to feel the effects of the weather with multiple leaks in the park, but then disaster struck when someone decided to steal all the lead off our roof. When I opened the next day I didn't notice anything was wrong until later on when the rain started to pour again. There was literally waterfalls coming in from nearly every area of the roof, it was pouring in faster than I could mop it up. I could see the ramps couldn't take it and I had to make an on the spot decision there and then to shut the place down for the safety of everyone skating and to try preserve some of the wood.
I contacted the landlord straight away to get the buildings insurance involved and get a new roof on as quick as possible so we wouldn't lose too much custom and the business wouldn't be greatly effected, but was shocked when I found out that the money I had been paying to him for buildings insurance he had been putting straight into his pocket, and we didn't even have any insurance. As a result, he had to pay for the new roof out of his own pocket but chose the worst two cowboys in the world to do the job because they were the cheapest. They took all the slates off the roof in a couple of days but left the entire roof with no sort of weather-proof sheeting for about three week, in which time any wood inside that wasn't flooded, now was.
We had to rip up the skin of over 90% of the main section and all of the floor on the top street section. Even the mini bowl got soaked but thankfully didn't warp and has survived. The only ramp that didn't get wet was the micro mini. As the months went on, the funds ran out. Debts started mounting and we still needed to buy a full parks worth of MDF for the re-skin. Lucky for us, I made a few calls and the great man that is Nick Zorlac sorted us out majorly by putting a good word in here and there and securing us a £1000 donation from Relentless, and a van load of free pop which was enough to buy most of the wood to re-skin.
Just as things started looking up for us, disaster struck again when someone broke into the park and stole over £3000 worth of power tools I had borrowed of friends and family to get the place re-skinned. All our drills, saws, nail guns, Playstation with over 100 games, DVDs, stock, everything was gone! I've never been as gutted in my life - how do you repair a park with no tools? Then, to top it off, a few week later, they bust the padlock on the back gate and nicked the tralor we used for getting wood. Stuff really does come in threes!
Things were at an all time low and I couldn't see how we could carry on after all this. If it wasn't for Jamie, Dave and Eamon helping out like they did, and a big bag of white widow, I probably wouldn't have found that last push of energy needed to go back out, borrow more money, get more drills and just crack on. I got the 24th of August in my head for the re-opening, and we worked solid 'til nearly 4am every night for the last few weeks to get the place ready. It took 5 month because of the idiots putting the new roof on, but we finally got there.
The Ripped - 2007:
Other than that, how many times have you seriously thought you were going to have to close The Ripped?
The first time was when Snoz left. He had damaged his foot in a surfing accident and the doctors told him not to skate or surf again, and I think with him been stuck in the park all the time not been able to skate, things got a bit on top and he needed to get away. As Simy was a 50% partner in the park, Snoz was going to sell him his half so he could buy a camper van and set off into the distance. Simy agreed but as he had another full time business he couldn't keep the ripped open unless someone took over management for pretty much no pay at all. Because I had left my normal job to help them anyway and loved the place, I proper wanted to help keep it open so decided I would jump in and run it everyday with the help of Jamie, who also helped build parts of the park. As a result it stayed open.
The second time, Simy had grown tired of the place, there was no profit coming out of it as we just scraped through the bills month to month, and his other business started doing really well. He wanted to sell the park on but no one was interested, so he was just going to shut it down. After a couple of months of me blagging his head that if he shut it down someone would turn it into a garage and it would never be a skatepark again, and he wouldn't be losing anything by just handing me the keys, he finally agreed to let me have the skatepark in February 2008. As a result, we saved it from closing again. The third time was the disaster period.
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I know you're currently fighting to keep The Ripped open for the fourth time, what has brought on the latest campaign?
As we are coming back round to the few week of sunshine we get every year, like every indoor park our regular custom becomes a bit less regular and the money for the everyday running of the park starts getting tight. Any extra money that usually gets made through winter would be kept back to help get through the summer. Because the disaster period completely rinsed the funds and forced loads of debt on us, all the money made through winter went straight on trying to clear some of the mounting debt which has left us with nothing to fall back on.
It's not just that though, for some reason a lot of our locals over the years seam to have dropped off or moved onto other things and there generally does not seem to be as many kids skating around these ends now-a-days. I saw trouble coming about five month ago and started telling people they need to use it a bit more frequently or they might lose it. Nobody took it seriously and thought that because we keep saving The Ripped from closing down, we would be ok and just keep scraping through. This is not the case. Because people keep dropping off we need a continual flow of fresh faces coming through the doors and becoming regulars in order to survive. This time it's completely out of our hands, if it shuts down it's due to lack of customers.
I had to hand the three month notice of closure to the landlord at the start of March to shut on the 1st of June, with the option to keep going month by month if business picks up. That's where the 'Save The Ripped' campaign comes in. One of our locals, David Wright, who has helped all the way through the disaster period and continues to put hour after hour into the park, whether it's helping me and Jamie build or repair ramps, designing logos and flyers for us, or simply bringing us a fresh supply of Milky Bars, has now set up a 'Save The Ripped' Myspace profile - www.myspace.com/savetheripped - in order to draw more attention to the situation and try get more people skating here to help with everyday running funds. He has set up pledges, lift lists and various copy and paste banners and such to get people hyped on saving The Ripped. He must sit at his PC for hours as he personally writes messages and comments to every single person in the 'Save The Ripped' friends list. The guy is a true saint and I can't thank him enough for all his help. But the fact still remains, it's down to everyone else now to put a bit back in, too. Support the scene or the scene will die!
Burrell bins the flash sync bullshit and holds frontside feeble for Silents lens. Photo: Silent.
Right now, how secure is the future of the park looking?
It could look better but we have managed, with the help of a few recent events, to push us safely into July/August before possible closure. It's not all grim though, if we can make it through summer to winter, we should be pretty much ok as it's dark, cold and wet, and there's not a lot of undercover spots up north worth skating anymore. If custom picks up in winter and we make a bit of money to put to one side to get us through next summer, we should be fine. All we need is a steady flow of regulars and plenty of rain and we should be set for years to come. Hopefully the new shop should start picking up a bit too, as I plan to get it running online to help with funds, plus I have a few more fund raising ideas I'm working on at the minute. If everything starts coming together again like it did before the disaster period, things will be looking very good for The Ripped.
From your point of view, how much of a success was the recent all-nighter? Did you get the turnout you were hoping for?
The all-nighter was amazing! By far the best one we have ever done down here. I was a bit worried the week before the event that it was going to flop and we would get about three people turn up, but was well shocked with the amount of people that turned up and just kept coming and coming all night. It was the fullest I've ever seen one of our all-nighters. The atmosphere was incredible, it felt like everyone in the building was there to support the cause and really enjoy themselves. A top night and some of the best shredding The Ripped has seen. The all-nighter raised some good money for the park and that's one of the reasons we can stay open until July. Massive thanks to everyone that turned out!
Have you got any other events in the pipeline? If so, what and when?
Yeah, I've got a couple more events planned now for the next couple of month. First up is another all-nighter on Saturday 13th June with more jams and comps, not sure about the fire this time though! Then Relentless are stopping at the park on their tour to do a fundraiser event with various jams and live music from Gentlemans Pistols on Saturday 4th July. We also have a few little techno and hip hop nights set up for in-between events and a few other ideas I'm toying with. I will be posting all info on the Sidewalk Forum as soon as we have it.
"Grim Up North 3" edit:
I know you're a fan of ramp modification – what are the latest changes/additions to the park, and have you got any more lined up?
Too right! In my opinion no ramp is ever finished, you can always add temporary or permanent bits and bats, whether it's an extension or a extra steep weird flat bank like the pyra-wall we built a while ago, or something simple like a rail or ledge.
The 4 main changes I have put into the park are the pyra-wall, a massive steep triangle flatbank that pretty much hits the roof and links up two other wall rides, though that was mainly Jamie and Dave. The near vert death-box extension on the long quarter, sliced out a chunk of the spine and put the hump in, and added a decent size two set on the hip in front of the jersey barrier for the street kids. My more recent addition though is the new four foot high whippy mini with roll-in and tomb stone. This ramp has already taken some victims as you just don't have time to think when you're skating it. There is only about two or three foot flat bottom and the transitions flings you out. It's definitely not for the weak-hearted, but when the shit goes down on this ramp it looks amazing. My next plan is to put some crazy hip in joining the new mini to the spine and giving even more lines to the park, then I'm going to start on the top section again, sort out a nice manny pad and get the block skating nice again. Basically wherever there is a wall or a free space I want to build some kind of ramp or bank. I love the way you can flow around the park forever by just pumping and I always keep this in mind when planning what to build next. If it doesn't create more lines, it doesn't get built.
I've also started throwing a few bits together outside. We are trying to build a proper ghetto park out of any bits of crap we can find. We already have a couple of sketchy manny pads, a proper steep wall ride, a really wobbly and bouncy flatbank made from a sheet of metal rested on chairs, a few fridges and kickers here and there. It's amazing how much more fun you can have when skating on bits of crap.
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Frontside air snap disasters keep the smile on the face of Joe Howard. Sequence: Silent.
Give us a rundown of the current Ripped team.
The team is just a group of regular local lads that properly use the park to its full potential. They skate for the love and fun and don't take themselves seriously. They all kill it in their own way and all represent what The Ripped is about.
First up we've got Joe Howard, AKA "Yoggins". This guy pretty much owns the park. He is relentless in his attack on the ramps and continues to find new spots in the park that most don't even notice. He is responsible for most of the chunks taken out of the pool coping and the reason for the ever mounting weekly repairs. He is a twat, but we love him.
Next we've got Eamon Croghan, the perfectionist. He is the switch crook king and has the juciest heel melons in Barnsley. Known within the team as "Stench", he has the dirtiest stinking arse out of anyone I have ever met. The true bog monster. When not shitting you will find him banging out some dope tricks on any type of block or ledge, or just asking about for more toilets and bog roll.
Next up is Jordan Kaye AKA "Thing". Proper frontside rocker, this kid rocks every frontside trick with sheer smoothness, tweaked out grinds and slides and some of the finest straight leg action going.
Then we've got Myles Rushforth, this lad is amazing. Give him vert ramps, wall rides, blocks, quarters, throw anything at him, he will tear it up then set out to disintegrate it in a completely effortless fashion. An all-rounder that can really turn it on. He is pretty good with a camera too, check his pics at www.flickr.com/mylesrushforth.
Then, last but not least, our newest team member Oliver Murphey, AKA "O". At 14 years old he still has a way to come but is showing signs that if he sticks at it he will be a sick little skater in a few year. The guy has been coming to The Ripped since it first opened and we have seen such a massive improvement in his skating over the years, we thought it was only fair to get him on the team and have him repping for us.
What can people do to help The Ripped out?
The biggest way anyone can help is to simply come for a skate now and then, spread the word that The Ripped is still open, check it out and let people know about the 'Save The Ripped' campaign. There is loads of ways to help us out, just be down for the cause and try support the fundraisers we put on. We also have a 'Save The Ripped' donation tub in the shop that seems to be getting pretty heavy now too. Every penny counts!
And lastly, what are the five best things you've seen go down in the park?
That's a hard one! There's loads I could pick from, but the five things, maybe not the best, but that strike me straight away are -
5 - Alex Barton with his frontside nose-pick on the death box extension.
4 - Myles Rushforth with an amazing tre-flip tail grab down the 2 set.
3 – Chris 'Avi' Atherton with his endless manny combos.
2 - Joe Howard with a frontside wall ride 270 indy out.
...and one of the best thing I've seen for time was Rob Smith with a blunt flip out on the death box extension - amazing!
Anything else you'd like to add?
I'd like to say a massive thanks to Sidewalk for running this and supporting the cause, thanks to Nick at Power, Death Skateboards, Relentless, Powley, Vans, Crossfire, Phil and everybody else that has helped in some way to keep the park going, and especially to Jamie and Dave for all their help and support when we only had one screwdriver between us. Big thanks to all the skaters that have stuck with us through thick and thin and continue to come down and support the park week in week out.
And lastly, for weekly updates on everything Ripped please check and follow our new blog www.therippedskatepark.blogspot.com, for all news on the 'Save The Ripped' campaign please add www.myspace.com/savetheripped and www.myspace.com/therippedskatepark. Peace!
The Ripped all-nighter - April 2009: