Mumbles skatepark, a skateboarding community triumph against the odds

What started to be a most wanted but affordable seafront concrete skatepark in Mumbles, Swansea, Wales, became a legal battle between the skateboarding community and some minor (but financial empowered) group of objectors, including Bonie Tylers’ husband, who did not want to have a skatepark close do their mansions. Five years later, though, the dream came true. Skateboarding won.

Mumbles skatepark in Swansea, Wales, was projected in 2018 with a 199.000-pound budget ($240.000/€224.000), but due to legal costs the final investment went up to double. Throughout this process a large and loudly community stepped up, putting in place many initiatives. But what called the attention of the mass media was the moment when a multimillionaire harassed some kids: the video went viral and helped the cause. We talked to Jason Williams, chairman of Mumbles Skatepark Association, who explained what went wrong, what people did to stand out and how hard was to go against those who have the money to stop, or at least postpone, a dream of so many. «The whole thing became a political hot potato and I’m glad to say we managed to use all this to the advantage of the project», he says. Built by Maverick Skateparks, it was opened last Friday, the 17th of February 2023.

What was the trigger that made you stepping forward against those people who wanted to stop building the skatepark?

It was all about getting a concrete park. Swansea’s got a rich surf and skate history, and a concrete park was long overdue. We get that not everyone wants a skatepark or feels an area need a skatepark, but there was a massive support for the park, and we had to co-ordinate to ensure the very vocal minority didn’t overshadow what a skatepark brings to a community. 

Tell us about the process of making your association.

Tomsk, Will and Jono were all involved from the beginning, advising the local council, but once initial planning permission for the project was granted, it was clear a more formal group/association was needed. Ironically, I didn’t attend the first meeting, but got voted in as chair and told afterwards!

What kind of initiatives did you put in place?

We held some meeting etc, but really relied on social media to engage with the communities (skate, bmx etc). We also worked closely with the local council driving the project and lobbied the larger County Council as well. 

“There was also an incident where the individuals had threatened some kids using the mini ramp on site, which was filmed and went viral. Following that, the amount of support for the project skyrocketed and it all went pretty viral.”

Then, it came local opposition…

Yes, it got complicated when some local opposition with significant financial backing issued a judicial review in an attempt to stop the project, which really seemed to galvanise those in favour. There was also an incident where the individuals had threatened some kids using the mini ramp on site, which was filmed and went viral. Following that, the amount of support for the project sky rocketed and it all went pretty viral. Hitting local, national and international press and web sites. The whole thing became a political hot potato and I’m glad to say we managed to use all this to the advantage of the project. 

How did non skater people react to your advocacy? Where they just ignoring or did they join the ‘battle’? Was this more than just a skatepark?

Overall, pretty good. Throughout, we’ve focussed on the positives a skatepark brings and the importance of an open, visible, accessible site. Covid and lockdown really shone a light on the need for free, accessible facilities and the whole start of this came from school kids saying they wanted a skate park, so the parents were all in favour. With the issues mentioned above, that support just went off the scale (our online petition went from 4500 signatures to 24000 signatures in a week!).

Could you name special episodes that took place that you will remember for ever?

So many moments: the ‘incident’ and being contacted by local and national press, including TV interviews with the BBC. Our story appearing in pretty much all the UK press. Being asked to participate in a debate on live national radio (cancelled at the last minute as no-one was prepared to participate from the group that issued the judicial review). A local brewery creating a delicious beer and soda called Damn the Man, to help fundraise. Finally getting everything signed off, the building of the park started. 

What kind of support did you have across this prolonged period? Legal, mostly?

None, really. We did have some well-wishers giving us informal advice, but we pretty much worked it out ourselves. The core of the Association are older, so experience from work, friends etc helped. When it came to the formal legal issues, the Council led and we fed in as much as we could, to ensure the right messaging was coming across. We did have to get involved in formal council stuff, but again, we just worked it out.

“Bonnie Tyler’s husband was one of the group who signed the judicial review”

How those people who wanted to stop building the skatepark changed their behaviour as your voice got bigger? Is it true that singer Bonnie Tyler was one of those at the frontline?

Bonnie Tyler’s husband was one of the group who signed the judicial review.

They were all in the background really and thought they could throw money and big-time lawyers at it and get it shut down. We were lucky that the local councils really saw what the skatepark could provide and bought into the project. That meant they worked through the legal challenge, rather than rolling over. It helped that there was so much press about ‘the incident’ and a huge amount of focus and support on the project. 

Because of this legal battle the skatepark will cost much more. How and who do you think should pay the difference?

Yeah, that sucks. Not just legal costs but build costs increased, all because a bunch of millionaires tried to stop it. Luckily, we did get support from lottery funding and the Mumbles Community Council made up the difference. 

“I’d recommend every project gets a panto villain to bring the community together!” 

This episode had impact at the media, like you said. Do you think your cause could be an example for other organizations around the world?

Absolutely, I’d recommend every project gets a panto villain to bring the community together! In all seriousness, I don’t know if we did the best job, or if we were just lucky. Also, each project has a different context and different challenges. In a nutshell, we tried to remain positive, repeat key messages about community (not just skate, bmx community) and the wider benefits of skateparks, tie in politicians and councillors wherever possible, and just kept pushing. 

If you had to ‘baptize’ this skatepark on a consequence of this social movement, what would be its name?

Loads of people have come up with ideas already, mainly as a big FU to those who were against it. Me, I don’t really care, I’m just over the moon it’s there. Let’s call it ‘one’, as we’re already talking to the local council about a possible 2 or 3 more parks.

Visit Mumbles skatepark Find out more about Maverick skateparks

By Manu Silva

I like skateboarding as a hobby, not a job

William Montgomery rides particularly good. Or better: Big Chicken shreds, already with a signature. He’s just seven years old but has already visited more than 75 skateparks from coast to coast in the United States of America, during his school holidays. “It’s fun to roll quietly through airports”, he says, never forgetting the most important thing: skateboarding is for fun. Meet this very special Trucks and Fins’ skatepark hunter. So, William, first tell us about your nickname: why ‘big chicken’, what’s the story behind it? My dad got a Big Chicken Beer sticker from henhouse brewery in Santa Rosa, and I put it on my helmet, and we decided it should be the name for my Instagram account.   Explain a bit more about the drawing on your helmet. Who made it? It is a Nutcase helmet with a bunch of travel and skate stickers on it that I have collected. You have visited about seventy-five parks. How did you manage your time with school stuff and other activities? Exploring the Bay Area on weekends (we have a lot of spots) and taking my board with me on holidays. Fun to roll quietly through airports. Can you choose the best skatepark from all these seventy-five? No, but I really liked Vans Huntington Beach, Woodward Tahoe, Fremont, Cookeville and Potrero.  In the last couple of months, you have travelled from coast to coast. Was that all planned? How did you program your tour? I just go wherever my mom plans (we like to travel) and then my dad helps me go to skateparks while there :) When did you start to skate? Tell us a bit of your personal story, and about your dreams regarding skateboarding. I started in April 2020. I saw my friend Jack’s skateboard and wanted one, so my parents got a penny board for me, and I used it at Shredders Skate Camp. Big thanks to Chris there for encouraging me.  He said I was good and my dad’s friend Mark gave me a bigger board. Reese Forbes then taught me to go fast and the guys at Potrero help me. I like skateboarding as a hobby, not a job.   Considering we are a community-focused directory, tell us how important are skatepark hunters like you for the people around the world who like to find new spots to ride and new places to discover.  My dad likes Trucks and Fins, especially when we travel to new places like Portugal, so we don’t travel to a boring one. I like to see parks to ride before going, so I can imagine what I can do there. Instagram Big Chicken

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My top 3 skateparks in the world - by Pro Skater Dora Varella

So what are the favourite parks of famous, professional skaters? We reached out to one of the best skaters in the international circuit to ask for her top 3 skateparks in the world, outside of her native country, Brazil. USA, Norway, and Dubai are the hotpots on the map. 3 bucket list skate travel destinations by Brazilian pro skater Dora Varella. If you are a top Brazilian skater, it means you are one of the best in the world. The ‘Brazilian storm’ is no longer a slogan just for surfers, because boys, girls, men and women born in this great country are dominating the skateboarding scene thanks to a unique soul and an expansional energy. Dora Varella is a Brazilian skater who is currently killing it, with her skating and contagious vibe. At the age of 21, she’s on top10 World Skate ranking. She has recently won the STU Park in Brazil (the Brazilian circuit) in Criciúma, and the qualification to Paris-2024 is one of her main goals. Dora Varella by Júlio Defeton Dora finished 7th in park competition in Tokyo-2020 Olympics. She was this close to reach the podium, but there was another trophy that she and the other finalists won: a fair play award for the empathy toward Japanese Misugo Okamoto, raising her on their shoulders after she failed an important manoeuvre that could get her a medal. She started to cry immediately, but thanks to this natural and spontaneous collective attitude the tears were gone and Misugu started to smile again. This is the kind of image that makes skateboarding different from other sports. And that’s why we find on Dora Varella’s official website this headline - that can summarize the spirit of something that is much more than a sport: “Skateboarding has taught me many lessons: cheering for others doesn’t stop you from winning; treating all people with respect despite the differences transforms your own existence; if you fall, get up, like in everything else in life”. Dora Varella by Eduardo Brás Millions of skaters fall and get up again like her, and many of them are always looking for new spots outside their cities, countries and even continents. Like Dora, too. With eleven years of skateboarding experience and being a professional since 2017, this pro skater from São Paulo was asked by Trucks and Fins to choose her top 3 skateparks in the world, outside Brazil, that could inspire users around the globe. She kindly said yes. So these are ‘Dora Varella’s top 3 skateparks in the world’: XDubai skatepark A 3,200 m2 facility in Dubai, the largest in the United Arabe Emirates. Set on a beachfront location, it’s good for beginners and professionals. Definitely a must-go spot. Visit XDubai skatepark Oslo Skatehaal indoor skatepark A 2,300m2 indoor skatepark with a 840m2 outdoor area in Voldsløkka, Oslo, capital of Norway. Ordered by the local City Hall, it features a full-size vert, the kind of challenge for someone who has already dropped Bob Burnquist’s ramp in California. Visit Oslo skatehaal California Training Facility Located in California, USA. It’s a high-performance centre developed specifically for skateboarding, incubating future world champions. But is has room for amateurs, throughout special programs designed to teach everyone who dares to get their feet on a skateboard. Visit California Training Facility skatepark Dora Varella by Anderson Tuca Take the advice. Valeu, Dora! See all the skateparks in the world Instagram Dora Varella

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The Mystery of the Belmonte Bowl in Portugal

Skateboarding in Portugal Quandary in the Quarry - The Mystery of the Belmonte Bowl.  It’s a kidney shaped bowl, wrapped around a half-pipe that leads to a fullpipe ending in a cradle BELMONTE SKATEPARK The village of Belmonte (population: ca. 3500) lies towards the northeastern part of Portugal. It’s head of a rural municipality where you can find about 54 people per square kilometre and where they’re highly likely to be advanced in years, as the ratio of elderly to young people is close to 3:1. Towards the northeastern part of the village, not far from the local Intermarché supermarket, there’s a small residential neighbourhood facing an abandoned quarry. Inside this quarry sits one of the biggest skate bowls in the world.   It’s a kidney shaped bowl, wrapped around a half-pipe that leads to a fullpipe ending in a cradle. The pictures should help make this clearer. It’s close to 4 metres deep and has almost a full metre of vert all around. There are oververt extensions over a metre tall. It’s a beast of a thing, especially when you consider the standards of skateboarding and skateparks in Portugal. Anyone that sees it immediately asks himself “What the hell is this doing here?” And it seems to me to be a fair, reasonable question. Anyway, when faced with a Portuguese skate-related mystery, there’s always one thing you can do, and that’s call up Luís Paulo. This dude was the first Portuguese skater ever to get sponsored, one of the few to have met Tony Hawk and the only one to have done an aerial over him, so he’s been in the game for a bit and knows his shit. I thank him for giving us the lowdown on this one. Apparently the whole idea came from the Belmonte Municipality. They are close to Serra da Estrela, the only ski resort in Portugal, where there’s also quite a bit of downhill biking and hang gliding going on in the summer, so they figured a skatepark would attract some of that crowd and get some more visitors to come to the village. Not a bad intuition other skateparks in Portugal See all SKATEPARKS However, as it often happens, they didn’t consult any skateboarders before diving into the project. At the time, the largest skatepark in the world had just been built in Shanghai (SMP Skatepark – it’s since been surpassed by the one in Guangzhou) and the architects hired to do the job in Belmonte decided to take inspiration from one of its sections. They did an impressive job: the bowl is nicely tucked inside the quarry walls, the transition is good and the full pipe and cradle look amazing. The only problem is that vert skaters in Portugal are thin on the ground. They did build a street section above the bowl, but unfortunately they didn’t study this subject as well as the transition bit, and it’s just unskateable. As it is, the Belmonte Skatepark, which was inaugurated in April of 2011, is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary with a still pristine coping. We have seen examples of what can go down at that bowl when the right people find it, but they’ve been few and far between. In 2012, Jake Phelps and the Thrasher crew (P-Stone, Rhino) came by and brought Peter Hewitt, Pedro Barros, and Grant Taylor for some serious ripping. One year later the Carve Wicked team (Sam Pulley, Alex Perelson, Sam Beckett, Rob Smith, etc.) also dropped some hammers. But the place can take it. In fact, it’s begging for it. If you’re into big walls, start planning that trip and type this into your GPS.

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10 best skateparks in Spain - Discover what spots are bucket list travel destinations

How do you define the best 10 skateparks in a country? It's definitely not an easy task to choose only 10 out of a total of 1071 skateparks we currently have found in Spain. The last couple of years I have been travelling quite a bit around Spain, mapping out spots for Trucks and Fins and in total I was able to visit and take photos of 425 skateparks. "So what are my top 10 spots in Spain" people ask me regularly. Making a top 10 list, I guess, also depends a bit if you have a preference for street or transition skateboarding. In my case, I like my bowls... So, here they go. Mar Bella skatepark Located next to the C. A. Canaletes Sant Martí sports centrum in Barcelona you'll find our first bucket list spot: Mar Bella skatepark. The skatepark is made up of a bowl, an enormous snake run and small street area.  Visit Mar Bella skatepark Camas skatepark Another spot I personally think deserves a spot on the top 10 is Camas skatepark near Sevilla, built in 2019 and designed by Daniel Yabar. Camas skatepark is a large concrete skatepark featuring a bowl and a street area packed with obstacles and lines.  Visit Camas skatepark Torrejón de Ardoz skatepark Torrejón de Ardoz skatepark is a 1400 square meter concrete park, featuring a bowl and large street area, built and designed by ZUT skateparks in 2008. The skate park is located next to a large and extensive pumptrack.  Visit Torrejon de Ardoz skatepark Cullera skatepark South of Valencia is another transition focused park I really enjoyed with a 5 star vibe: Cullera skatepark, built by Copinramps in 2019. Fun park to cruise along, with some unic obstacles, but difficult to skate when it's crowded.  Visit Cullera skatepark Guineueta Canyelles Skatepark  Another spot you can't miss in Spain, is Guineueta Canyelles skatepark in Barcelona. The skatepark was built by IOSkateparks and Ramps and Vulcanoskateparks and features three bowls, a long snake run, and a street area.  Visit Guineueta Canyelles skatepark Nepal skatepark If you like transition and want to see some local rippers in action, then make sure to head over to Extremadura Park in Madrid. Nepal skatepark in Alcobendas, designed by Daniel Yabar, is one of the most historic skateparks in Spain. It is known amongst locals as “Nepal” because of the extreme cold in the winter and views of the mountains near Madrid. Visit Nepal skatepark Tres Cantos skatepark Tres Cantos skatepark is a 1000 square meter gem built by ZUT skateparks in 2018. The park features a concrete skatepark and an asphalt pumptrack.  Visit Tres Cantos skatepark Ruben Alcantara Malaga skatepark Ruben Alcantara Malaga skatepark is a 10,000 square meters sports facility for BMX, Skate, Roller and Scooter. The skatepark features a worldwide famous bowl designed by the two-time world champion Rider Rubén Alcántara, a halfpipe, miniramp, a street plaza, concrete pumptrack and a BMX dirt track with three lines. Visit Ruben Alcantara skatepark La Kantera Skatepark La Kantera is Spain's most inconic skatepark, aka Algorta park, built in 1987, thanks to the initiative of a group of local surfers and skaters. In the beginning legends like Txus Domínguez, Alain Goikoetxea, Ivan Fano, Afonso Fernandez etc turned La Kantera into the Mecca of skate in Spain, inspiring the following generations of skaters. 35 years later the park is still a worldwide reference for its radical and creative approach to skateboarding. Visit La Kantera skatepark Ramputene DIY skatepark In the Basque country, in Donostia San Sebastian, located under a bridge overpass you have Ramputene DIY skatepark that definitely deserves a place in the top 10 ten because of all the love and work put into this spot. Don't forget to support the local cause and keep it clean. Visit Ramputene DIY skatepark See all skateparks in Spain

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A skateboard is the best thing you can take with you on travel adventures

Trucks and Fins welcomes Bros Around The Globe who will share with us their inspiring travel adventures. In their first blog you will get a comprehensive perspective on how traveling and skateboarding share the same ‘mantra’: freedom and connecting people. So simple. So pure. So healthy. If you’ve stumped upon this, chances are you’re thinking about bringing your skateboard with you on your next trip. And if you haven’t thought about packing it, you should, because you’ll probably regret it if you don’t. As a skater, a skateboard is the best thing you can take with you on a travel adventure, besides well, your skate shoes, of course. Whether you’re heading out to the next town over or abroad to a new country when you take your board with you, the possibilities are endless, and Trucks and Fins can navigate the skate along the way or even help find a place to stay.  Though it may feel awkward to carry and seem like extra weight at first, the benefits of bringing your skateboard will soon reveal themselves in more ways than one. Between waiting for buses, taxis, trains, and all the downtime that travel provides, your board is sure to keep you occupied when you're not seeking out new skate spots or exploring a new city on four wheels. With a board in tow, you have the ability to get from point A to point B, all while expressing the creative outlet we call skateboarding. As you hit the streets to take in the new sights, sounds, and smells, the pure joy from kicking, pushing, and rolling in a foreign place is a feeling second to none.  “Skaters respect other skaters no matter where they may find themselves in the world and there’s a special connection in a shared passion and lifestyle” Besides skating legendary spots, parks, and plazas, you’ll quickly learn your skate doubles as a universal language for making new friends. Not to mention it helps you navigate language barriers and tap into skating’s tight-knit subculture. Skaters respect other skaters no matter where they may find themselves in the world and there’s a special connection in a shared passion and lifestyle. Skating knows no boundaries, no borders, nor skin colour because every skater knows how much, blood, sweat, tears, and time goes into the learning process. When you meet other skaters, there’s an unspoken bond that brings high fives and high vibes in whatever corner of the globe you may find yourself in.  Skating can be a tool to clear one’s mind, let off steam, challenge yourself, be present, and rediscover the learning process. Besides helping you get around, it’s a useful tool to have when traveling long-term and can be all the above and more. You may even inspire others to get on a board or help a groom cruise for the first time. Each skate mission will give you a glimpse into the local skate culture and diversity of skaters worldwide. You’ll meet new friends, skate legendary spots you can only dream of, and make memories to last you a lifetime. All made possible by a wooden toy and the desire to ride.  “Becoming friends with locals is always a powerful travel experience, leaving you with the feeling that you were fully immersed and a part of the city” When you arrive at a new destination, just show up at the local, and you’ll be in the neighbourhood crew before you know it. Young or old, beginner or professional, skateparks serve as places for people of different backgrounds to interact with each other. When you’re on the road, stopping by the skatepark or DIY spot is one of the best ways to take in the vibe of a unique place and meet new people. No matter where you are in the world, skaters are gonna skate. Becoming friends with locals is always a powerful travel experience, leaving you with the feeling that you were fully immersed and a part of the city, town, or village you were visiting. On your journey, you can’t forget to make a stop to support the local skate shop. Around the world, skate shops serve as a catalyst for developing and sustaining the local skate community. It's a place to gather and chop it up to gain some insight into what you should really see and do in a new place. When traveling, the best advice is always from people who actually live there. A skate shop is the root of a city’s skate culture, and it brings people together. Skate shops are much more than a storefront, they support real people and put their money back into the local skate scene. Skate shops around the world always have a welcoming atmosphere that illustrates just how vibrant the skate community is. “Travel and skating are all about freedom, creativity, and thinking outside the box. When you combine the two, you’ll experience the best of both worlds” Traveling with a board taught me how skateboarding and traveling are similar in many ways. Through both, you must be present and only concentrate on the now. Skateboarding, like traveling, has always taught me about patience, persistence, never giving up, and mental toughness. Both prepare you to adjust when a mistake arises and to keep trying when something doesn't go your way. They teach you to adapt when things don't go correctly and push you out of your comfort zone to try new things. On the road or on your board, there’s a humbling feeling when you fail or fall down, leaving you to get back up and do it again through sheer determination.  Freedom, creativity, and individuality are values of skateboard culture. There is no question that skaters are unrelentingly dedicated to the progress of the sport and welcome anyone who has the courage to get on board. The skate community is built on mutual respect. Instead of one-upping each other, skaters continually encourage each other and embrace their differences, something ever so prevalent when you travel the world with your board. Travel and skating are all about freedom, creativity, and thinking outside the box. When you combine the two, you’ll experience the best of both worlds.  So when it comes to packing for that next trip, make sure you leave enough room to bring your board. Your skateboard will take you to places you could only dream of and give you memorable experiences that will stay with you long after your adventure is concluded. With 85 million skaters around the world, you’ll be sure to find your tribe when you travel, and all you’ll need is your board.  Website Bros around the Globe Instagram Bros around the globe

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The New Milharado skatepark in Portugal is almost ready

FRESH Wasteland concrete in Mafra, Portugal. We reached out to João Sales of Wasteland Skateparks to find out more.  Introduce us to the park - tell us its name, where it is, what kind of park will it be (more street-oriented, just a bowl, a plaza...), its approximate dimensions, if it's already open to the public, that sort of stuff. The initial idea was to build a bowl in the Parque Desportivo Municipal de Mafra sports complex. The project was handed out to a random architect, but the measurements were all wrong and the plan was a bit of a mess. That's when we were contacted to do a budget for the project. We told the city hall that we know the local skater community well. Building a huge bowl in that area would be a mistake, because we have build a flow bowl nearby in Venda do Pinheiro. The boys in the area need some street obstacles there too. So, later the contractor asked us to build a different thing. We made a lot of different proposals and the city hall kept on shrinking the area, until they accepted the final project. There is still no date for the official opening, but it's going to be soon, somewhere in August! The concrete is ready, but the park around it still needs it final touches. So hold your horses for a couple more days. Is there any feature that you're particularly happy with, that came out really nice or is really fun to skate? We kind of feel sorry about the space and feel frustrated because all the decisions made did not evolve the skater community in the Mafra area. Anyway, we were able to turn a small park into a fun little set of good quality concrete.  Any dream trick or link you'd like to see go down in any of the park's features or areas? We hope to see happy faces at the park. Hopefully the park will provide an area were local kids can progress. That would be a "dream trick" for us. Visit Mafra Skatepark Visit Wasteland Skateparks

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