After we posted a little piece about Mark ‘Trawler’ Lawer’s second UK Skateboard history book Snakes & Moguls last week, Mark got in touch to give us a little more info and to show a few more spreads of the in-progress book, which should be required reading for anybody with even a passing interest in UK Skateboarding culture. The book can be pre-ordered here: http://snakesandmoguls.bigcartel.com/
“This book is called Snakes and Moguls and is about all the short-lived skateparks of the Seventies and the skaters that loved them.
The initial idea was inspired by a friend in Cornwall called Elliot Mallenson, who had said that I should do a book about this era as nobody was better qualified to compile it. The more I thought about it, the more the idea grew. Within a week I was off on one! On July 1st I went to Romford skatepak and met Dion, the long-term local and then on the next day, Rob Ashby to talk about the very first UK skatepark – Portland.
On the way home from that meeting, I had tea with Graham Inchley and talked about Thruxton and the insanely good Andover pool that used to be there.
During all of these meetings, I had my laptop and portable scanner with me to steal all their images. Soon I was on a roll and in accordance with my plan to not use any photographs from old magazines and to label ‘Snakes and Moguls’ as a scrapbook, I found myself frantically scanning all kinds of ephemera relating to long dead skateparks – tickets, membership cards, badges, all kinds of stuff that will sit alongside interviews with people who were locals at each park.”
“There are thankfully some professional photographers involved in the book as well: I have Surf Photographer Alex William’s shots of Plymouth Zoo skatepark and the first bowl contest in the UK at Watergate Bay. Ben Liddell’s mother-load of Skate City in London, Spandrell Skate Domes in Uxbridge and The Barn in Brighton, plus Darren Burdell helped me out with Southport in Merseyside and Colne in Lancashire, these photos are amazing too. I tracked down the Cross brothers, sons of a skatepark manager in Exmouth who had passed away and they scanned their dad’s archive that was hidden away in the loft. I was getting recorded-delivery packages every day for three weeks of skater’s memories, which I carefully scanned and dutifully returned; everybody has been so cool and helpful. It was a lot of hard work with visits to Southsea, Barnstaple, Brighton and Cornwall but it came together pretty quickly and within two months I was ready to go to meet Ian Roxburgh to lay it all out and design it in Oxford.
I worked with Ian on the previous book and he was the guy that put together the pages of R.A.D. Magazine in the Eighties so he knows his stuff.”
“The book covers thirty-five parks from Cornwall to Scotland, of which only five still remain today. It forms a little time capsule of when skateboarding was the craze to end all crazes and businessmen threw money at it. These parks had cheesy names like ‘Solid Surf’, ‘Locomotion’ and ‘Earth and Ocean’. They had massive overheads and not much forward thinking in terms of design or business plans, which is why most died a death within three years. For the time they were up and running though, kids loved them and some fell in love with skateboarding forever because of these parks. I hope that the mini interviews can capture that feeling because a lot of young people felt let down and gutted when the parks they loved closed. Inside this book you will see some rad skateboarding and some terrain that you will wish you had a chance to skate and plenty of fun oozing out of the pages. This was an innocent time of the pioneering days of British skateboarding.
It should make you feel lucky too, lucky that skateparks are better now and that there are more of them everywhere with most being free to skate. Be thankful that shorts are longer, pads are better, and that equipment these days is almost space age compared to back then! People tell me that this needed documenting because none of us are getting any younger and it is nice to have it all in one place. They say you need to know your history to go forward so I hope this book goes some way in doing that. Thanks Trawler”