Raiders of the Lost Park – Kelvin Bowl, Sheffield

Bring a spade, some brushes and low expectations and you'll be fine

Finally, it’s (almost) stopped raining and thus Raiders of the Lost Park is back as a monthly feature giving us the opportunity to search out and session some of UK skateboarding’s forgotten artefacts.

This month’s mission saw us head over to Sheffield in search of the mysterious and somewhat confusing Kelvin Bowl. First brought to our attention by the Instagram hashtag that spawned this idea ( #somebodycallnyjah ) a couple of years ago by Timmy Garbett, this concrete oddity is markedly different from the primarily metal destinations of earlier Raiders of the Lost Park odysseys.

Photo: Greg Somerset

Raiders of the Lost Park – Kelvin Bowl, Sheffield
Music by Will Sheerin – more at Instagram @padsofhue

For some reason, I had convinced myself of having visited Kelvin Bowl back in the early 1980’s but after speaking to fellow geriatric, Rob Bannister of The House indoor skatepark, it turned out that my teenage memories were incorrect, as Kelvin bowl was constructed in the early 1990’s. The 70’s Sheffield relic that I’d blithely kickturned around on back in 1985 was more likely to have been Norton’s snake run/bowl that dates back to the right period, and is still there waiting for a future Raiders mission.

Your guess is as good as ours. Photo: Beall

Anyhow, to return to matters in hand, thanks to Rob’s knowledge of the Sheffield skateboard scene, we were able to roughly date Kelvin bowl, (although ‘dish’ is probably more accurate to be honest) to around 1992. The skatepark was constructed by the Sheffield Works Department in response to the almost total lack of skateboard facilities in the city, following the closure of the infamous indoor mini ramp complex at Boatworld that played host to the likes of Dino Squillino and the Shipman brothers in the now distant past of the late 1980’s.

Ben Broyd leans back and dreams of Neil Blender’s G&S ‘Footage’ section.
Photo: Greg Somerset

The original build consisted of just the dish/bowl, which may or may not have had coping (nobody can remember exactly) and lay in the shadow of the somewhat notorious Brutalist Kelvin flats complex. From the various stories of muggings and unpleasant altercations with some of the areas’ less friendly locals back then, it sounds as though the original Kelvin bowl was rarely skated following its construction, and only came back into circulation following the demolition of Kelvin flats in 1995.

Photo: Greg Somerset

“Reeeeeee da weed.” Indy-grabbed taildrop into tin, Ben Broyd.
Photo: Beall

The other obstacles that now sit on the site of the original Kelvin bowl – a metal quarterpipe, flatbar, and the truly mind-boggling metal launch ramp located in the flat bottom, were added in the late 90’s, along with coping around the lip of the bowl itself, following petitions from the city’s skate scene about the lack of local facilities.
Whether these newer additions actually make the skatepark better or worse is an open question really, but nonetheless, Kelvin bowl is part of UK skateboarding history, and as proven time and again on these Raiders missions, with the right crew and attitude, anything is skateable.

With a crew of keen (and in Shaun Currie‘s case, initially ‘not so keen’) locals assembled, and a car full of sub-par gardening tools we descended en masse to first clear out and then explore what could be done with this concrete relic using the skill-set of today’s Sheffield skate scene.

“Is that a brush or one of those Just Eat delivery robots Denver?”
Photo: Beall

Big thanks to Ben Broyd, Rasheed Osman, Timmy Garbett, Dave ‘Dead Dave’ Adlington, Shaun Currie, Kirsty Tonner, Denver, Henry Stables and Danni Gallacher for rolling the dice with us on this one.
Extra special thanks to Dan Beall and Greg Somerset for using up their days off to come out and shoot photos.

“You were right man, I am having a good time!” Shaun Currie, feeble 270 out.
Photo: Beall

Rasheed Osman – judo blunt fakie for Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.
Photo: Greg Somerset

Dead Dave, boosted boneless one off the world’s best jump ramp.
Photo: Greg Somerset

The angle for this was a fucking nightmare. Shaun Currie, frontside flip.
Photo: Beall

“Is this a flatbar or a bike rack?” Rasheed Osman, feeble grind.
Photo: Beall

Ben Broyd frontside noseblunt. Photo: Beall

For footage and photos from previous outings – including an exploration of Milton Keynes Pennyland skatepark, Huddersfield’s most awful council parks with the Endemic Skateshop crew, and days out to Nunroyd skatepark and Tunstall skatepark near Stoke-on-Trent with the Welcome Skateshop squad and assorted friends – be sure to head on over to the Raiders of the Lost Park tag.

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