In the late 90′s/early 00′s there were two BMX worlds I was heavily entwined in. The Dig and T-1 inspired utopia, and the absolute realism of Northen English street. Today we focus on the latter and perhaps the most important part of my personal travel along the rocky road of BMX.
We were lucky enough to be part of a tight scene from Leeds, Dewsbury, Huddersfield stretching right over the Pennines to Preston and Southport. Northern John, Will Jackson, Canny Kid, Robbie Owen, Baito and Sparky were on hand to guide us and make sure we didn’t get too sucked in to a BMX world that was light years away from Ravensthorpe. They kept it real in some of the most bleak settings you could ever wish to feeble a ledge. And still do to be fair.
Here we have three video’s that represent that whole era, not just for us but probably most of the UK scene at that time. I’ve managed to drag Matt Barton (Baito) away from tweeting about “burks in big headphones” to talk about each video. You better get the kettle on….
Hells Kitchen’s – Troublebound
About 14 years ago in Huddersfield I met Robin Owen. A student the Uni there at the time. He brought to a scene that consisted of a group of reprobates from Wakefield and a smaller group from Huddersfield, a video camera. We never expected anything to come from it. We just rode and some stuff got filmed. We were by no means breaking new ground in BMX. We just did what we did. In 1999 or 2000, Robin’s final Uni assignment was unveiled in VHS format to a very select few individuals. (Rarer than hens teeth from the word go it was!)
It was a standard formula video consisting of individual rider sections, shared sections and montage footage. Approximately half an hour long it featured stalwarts of the scene and a few interlopers for good measure, many of whom are still good friends now. Full song sections were given to myself, Neil Gatenby/Mark Davis, Martyn Walker/James Bennett/John Spurr, Robin Owen, Will Jackson and none other than Northern John Deprieelle. It was filmed primarily in West Yorkshire but we used to get about a bit too. Leeds, Preston and beyond. Riders from those areas would make the journey to the golden land of Huddersfield too………the Austin TX of England.
We rode it all too. Trails, street and ramps. Some of us excelling at one thing (crashing for me) and others were excelling at all three. Out of all of us today, there is only myself, Northern John and Mark “Sparky” Davis that ride with any degree of regularity. Others have either sold-up for one reason or another, or they get out only rarely. For all of those involved in this video and the subsequent ones from Robin, BMX was and is about fun, travel and occasionally getting our balls out. Oh yeah……and being social.
Hells Kitchen’s – Since 916
About a year or so after Troublebound, gee’d up by what had been captured in that video and the feedback from those who managed to see it, quite by surprise, Robin Owen emerged from his dank bedroom and without his dredlocks clutching a box containing new videos and some t-shirts. He’d only gone and put together another video and it premiered to about 60 people, all crammed into a 2 bed terrace in Huddersfield. Sparky’s 94 ton TV perched on the kitchen window sill (they measured TVs by weight in them days). It was a legendary premiere! Toe to toe, shoulder to shoulder, Packed like sardines we were. It’s alledged that you could hear the cheering down at the local skate park about half a mile away!
The formula was different this time. No individual sections but montage sections. What’s considered “filler” footage was in abundance too. The riding of all involved had progressed and along Robin’s clever usage of the filler footage, a vibe to the video was created that you just don’t get in modern videos……apart from Cleggy’s edits perhaps?!
All the faces from Troublebound appeared in ’916, plus a shed-load more. There’s Cleggy with his dreds and a young KFC worker by the name of Ady Hogan to name just a couple. Many in the scene regarded Since 916 as the best of all Robin’s creations. It really captured the scene and what it was about perfectly. It really couldn’t have been done any better. #Fact.
SYC’s Av It.
Inspired by Troublebound and Since 916, a few of us in the scene acquired video cameras. Footage was getting clocked almost continuously at this point in time and I also got the air-brained idea of starting a clothing company. SYC Clothing was born and what better way to advertise than through the medium of video. I didn’t have a clue how to put a video together so once again, Robin Owen and his trusty Apple Mac was charged with the task. All I needed to do now, was put a team together!
That didn’t take long though. I had a good bunch of friends who’s riding was all notable considering what I was seeing on my travels so it was a no-brainer. The team was like this; myself (obvs!), Neil Gatenby, Adam Watson, Craig Timpson, Wayne Womack and John Spurr. All of this lot were familiar faces from the two previous Hells Kitchen produtions. Craig “Timmo” Timpson was relatively new though……literally!! He was 13 or 14 when we were filming for Av It but he was talented beyond his years. Every single one of the riders named, busted a gut for this video. I think Wayne did all his stuff in the 2 weeks before editing began!! Those in and around the scene that weren’t on the team rota got a look in too and the out-tro is a lengthy one as a result. It’s still as enjoyable as the rider sections and only Robin Owen and his creative streak could have pulled that off though.
You could go as far as to say that Robin Owen was a lynch-pin for the scene. As well as being a super cool guy and a rad all-round rider, his ability with a load of video tapes and a computer galvanised a scene for over 5 years.