As skateboarding became popular, things became more serious. A fishing tackle shop on Milton Road (opposite the City football ground) converted its first floor into a skateboard shop. I will never forget the pungent smell of adhesive grip tape as I ascended the stairs.
We would build homemade ramps using old doors and hardboard, which we would drag out into the road to ride on. People were using every available place to practise this fledgling activity, so the town council decided to build a skatepark in an old industrial area at the end of Cheddars Lane. At the time, this was a cluster of semi-derelict sites, including the old pumping station (now the Museum of Technology) and the gasworks.
The skatepark, which opened in 1978, was hastily built with bowls and runs cut into the surrounding banks and soil. These were sealed with concrete to create supposedly smooth surfaces to ride on, which was far from the truth. There was a large wooden half pipe by the entrance which was challenging and very unforgiving. A small porto-cabin also sold boards and equipment but most things had to be obtained by mail order.
There were many trips to more developed skateparks in Kettering and beyond, and for a brief time, skateboarding was an all-encompassing activity, taking up every spare moment. Eventually, it would pass into the distance and, looking back, I can now see it as a bridge between my childhood and the music that would dominate the rest of my teenage life. Courtesy of Ian Rawlison 2023.