Concrete Dinosaurs Part 3 - Livingston Skatepark
It was a no-brainer that the third and final destination on this Concrete Dinosaurs odyssey would be the jewel in the crown, and oldest of all Scotland's celebrated parks, namely the mighty Livingston Skatepark which sits between the River Almond and what used to be the infamous Club Earth.
The seed of what became Livi skatepark was originally planted in 1976 after local hero Kenny Omond took a business trip to California and saw the skateparks that were being built in the sunshine state during the original 1970's skateboard boom that was in full swing at the time.
Kenny returned to Livingston with a single-minded vision to convince the Livingston Development Corporation (LDC) to build something on a similar scale in Livingston.
Happily, thanks to the immediate and wholehearted support of prominent LDC architect Iain Urquart and his wife Dee, Kenny's vision was welcomed, and construction of the original skatepark layout, (the downhill halfpipe that leads into the mellow banked bowl section with the back wall and the infamous bowl) was completed in 1980, leaving Livi in a unique position as the one concrete park in the UK designed and conceived in the 1970's but actually completed in the following decade.
With inspiration for the original Livi drawn from existing 70's parks like the long-demolished Andover skatepark in Hampshire (hence the 'Andover' at the end of the halfpipe), and the double bowl inspired by the Californian Marina Del Ray skatepark, Livingston's vintage as a product of its era is unparalleled before or since.
Subsequent developments saw the mini section at the top, (or the 'English section' as it's jokingly referred to by some of the locals) added roughly a decade after the original park was built, with the latest (and somewhat controversial) third section with fullpipe and deep bowl complex built on what had previously been a go-kart track around 2014. If you're interested in hearing more from Kenny Omond on the history of Livingston Skatepark, you could do worse and read our Carved in Stone feature that originally came out in issue 84 of Sidewalk back in 2003.
The Concrete Dinosaurs Part 3 - Livingston Skatepark mission saw the cross-country journey come to end with an epic session involving the road crew, plus a host of Scottish rippers who turned out despite the omnipresent threat of rain to get involved in two days of straight forward concrete carnage.
Huge thanks to Raven Tershy, Rune Glifberg, Ben Hatchell and Sam Beckett for being down to shred whatever was put in front of them after excessive road hours, to Creasey, Tom Mangham and all at Monster Energy for making this happen and to all the skaters we met along the way.
Let's do it again next year!
Peep Parts 1 & 2 of Concrete Dinosaurs here.
This was the first time in Scotland for Big Ben, Raven and Rune, and, unfortunate as it may seem, I can’t say that they really saw that much of it. The bad weather from England had followed us on our journey north and plagued us for the whole Scottish weekend, meaning that we spent a fair amount of time lurking around Livi waiting for dry spells in which we could get a session going. There was no meandering on the Royal Mile, no visits to Edinburgh Castle, no afternoon outing to Kelvingrove Art Gallery, no one attempted to find Nessie and I don’t think any of the crew so much as laid eyes on a single haggis. Ben did manage to purchase a bag of haggis -flavoured crisps from Asda in Livi though, so all was not lost.
“It’s all gone a bit 1998" – Sam Beckett nods the cap to Stu Graham and blasts high into the Livingston evening sky with his flawless frontside air, straight off the cover of Sidewalk issue 29. All he’s missing here is a big old gold earring and a Zoo York board.
Surprisingly, this was also Rune’s first ever visit to Livi. What with his ties to the UK via the Deathbox/Flip connection, I think a lot of people just assumed that he must’ve made the pilgrimage to West Lothian at some point over the years, but apparently not. As he’d never been to Scotland before, I think it’s safe to assume that this was also Rune’s first exposure to the Gaelic language, which he stumbled upon during the first evening in the hotel whilst trying to enjoy late night football highlights.
“So…what language do they speak in Scotland?"
After years of unrelenting urethane abuse, the harsh surface of the bowl at Livi intimidates most – not Colin Adam though, who, after a lifetime of Livi localisation, stares into the abyss, completely unfazed, midway through this textbook eggplant.
We took time out of our rainy Saturday afternoon to drive to Carluke and get Colin in the van, following Div through some scenic countryside between Livi and Carluke, taking the road that leads you through Forth, so at least the crew saw a bit more of Scotland besides Livingston and the soulless business park near Edinburgh airport where our hotel was situated.
Sam’s got a real knack for stick and poke tattooing; if you look at his Instagram, over the course of the summer it seems like he was rifling off a good two or three tattoos a week, and each one was incredibly detailed and painstakingly pieced together over hours of intense dot work. Sam doesn’t just tattoo anything on anyone either – if he doesn’t like the idea, it won’t be happening. After skating Livi until late on the Saturday night, Sam had to retire back to the hotel to get to work on a tattoo for his mate Haz who had moved to Scotland from their native Norfolk and had connected with Sam earlier in the day. He’d already given life to a Guinness toucan earlier in the trip, and two nights later was back at it again for Haz’s moon. Seriously, go have a look for yourself - @stew_bacca – if you’re into stick and poke tattoos, you won’t be disappointed.
Saul is a little lad from Glasgow with loud trucks, a bag of transition ammo that far surpasses his handful of years, and the ability to learn all his tricks ‘correctly’. Saul was in the mix for both days of sessioning at Livi, alongside the likes of Aaron Wilmot, Charles Myatt, Adam Paris and Stu Graham, and we even managed to coax Benson into joining us for a brief spell as well. As is always the way at Livi, the locals ensured the session was a lively one, keeping the booze flowing, the BBQ smouldering and throwing encouragement at anyone who required it. The only time Saul stopped skating was to fire up Instagram Live and keep the rest of the waiting world updated as to what was going on at Livi, but luckily he didn’t manage to broadcast anything to his followers that was too hard fought for. Check the steez on this halfpipe number then keep a watchful eye on this one over the years to come – the future is bright, skates fast and wears geggs…
Raven had waited the whole trip to get to Scotland, and once there he wasted no time at all in getting immersed into the Scottish way of life. The first thing he needed was to find Div and his black Astra van, once safely inside Div’s wagon he then needed to locate a bottle of Irn Bru, then lastly, a bottle of Buckfast. With those three essentials ticked off, Raven was just about ready for his inaugural visit to Livi.
“Get Buck! Once you make it to the label, don’t try to skate"
The back wall at Livi is the last place you’d want to find yourself if you’d drunk past the label on a bottle of Bucky. Luckily I think Raven was fast approaching the legal limit at this point in the session.
Concrete Dinosaurs Part 3 - Livingston Skatepark