UK Skatepark: Spot Check - Lightwoods Skatepark, Birmingham.
Lightwoods Skatepark is located on the edge of Lightwoods Park and House in the Bearwood area of Birmingham, and – although no longer in its original form – has a history dating back to the late 1980s.
The original park opened in 1991 and was the result of a group of local skaters and BMXers getting together with a local Bobbie to help steer the idea. Thanks to the involvement of the infamous BBC TV show ‘Challenge Anneka’, the original and rather basic layout was born – created in 24 hours, no less - consisting of one long main bank, a strange dish/bowl affair and a 6ft Rare Unit ramp. Rumours were abound at the time that the Channel Tunnel build crew were involved in the job, though despite this, Lightwoods became pretty much the first free to use skatepark in the West Midlands, and remains to be only one of a handful of skateparks within the borough today.
Bob Sanderson and a group of other local skaters were on hand for the original park’s opening day, though what with Anneka Rice flying in via helicopter for the episode of ‘Challenge Anneka’, the place was understandably rammed, leaving the ramp the only area of the park that was actually skateable. The great quote from the locals at the time was that they should ‘challenge Anneka to skate the thing’. Check out the Bearwood Skatepark Archive on Facebook for a whole load of photos and more, dating from the park's early days right up to 2018.
The second incarnation of the park came to be around 2010, though due to a limited budget and lack of skateboarder involvement in the steering group, it became very bike orientated, consisting of a spine, various quarters and a bowled pocket, with a fairly basic ‘street area’ tagged on to the side. Regardless, Lightwoods has always played home to Bob Sanderson, who now lives locally and can be found inspiring young and old folk alike through regular lessons at the park.
The rest of the park and Lightwoods House itself has had a £5.2 million facelift thanks to The National Lottery, Lottery Heritage Funding and Sandwell Council, and with this in mind, Bob is working with local council representative Julia Morris and they are hoping to secure £250,000 at least to blend some up to date features into the existing set up.
Anyway, cast your eyes over the following edit and selection of photography to see for yourself what Lightwoods Skatepark has to offer, then round up a gaggle of your mates and make your way to Bearwood! For a comprehensive list of UK indoor skateparks, please consult our 'UK Indoor Skatepark Guide'.
All photos by Chris Johnson – local history provided by Bob Sanderson.