Skating and riding in a swimming pool has always fascinated me, probably because the opportunity doesn’t often present itself. It's something that you see all the time coming out of warmer climates, with no shortage of pools. Over here in the U.K however, it’s a different story... Outdoor pools are something of a rarity. If you do stumble across one, chances are it's going to be full of over 50s doing water aerobics. The majority of pools here in the U.K are built indoors, making access to ride and skate a challenge, probably a wet one too.
Words and photos by Eckers
Video by Tad / BNGBNGMCR
I like exploring old places. Last year I decided it was time to find a pool in this country that could be skated, rode and where I could shoot a decent set of flicks. Local crew BNGBNGMCR were also keen so it was a case of asking around and looking for the right location. Around December the perfect spot presented itself on a silver platter. A local pool, without banks or transitions but full of wood. After finding our way in, work began on clearing the spot while avoiding the pigeon shit.
BNGBNG organ grinder Tad, in his infinite wisdom, even decided to have crack at cleaning the place after a heavy night at the pub. This wouldn’t be so bad if you could just walk in, but you couldn’t just walk in... Access was via a sketchy climb onto a corrugated metal roof then through a minefield of holes. Thankfully, Tad survived and somehow made the pool a little cleaner. Sadly, after multiple visits and the near death of Tad, the spot was purchased and locked off for good. We were forced to abandon our plans.
Undeterred, I knew it was all about patience with something like this. Potential locations are opened and closed weekly and it was only a matter of time before the right spot unveiled itself. Some graffiti artists hit me up about a spot they had recently painted which had a pool. The promise of a huge explore with easy access led myself and Rick to make the trip.
"Most of the rooms were ransacked with chairs hanging from the chandeliers."
Photographs I had seen of this place were unbelievable and the reality did not disappoint. The building itself was stunning but it was clear vandals had also stumbled upon it. Most of the rooms were ransacked with chairs hanging from the chandeliers. What were once carefully crafted mirrors and statues had been smashed beyond repair and yet, it was still one of the grandest sites I had visited for a while. It turned dark not long after we found the entrance, on our first visit, but that didn’t stop us. Sure enough, just as the writers had promised, at the heart of the building lay a swimming pool. It would take some cleaning but we had finally found a pool to ride and, unlike the last one, this had a few banks built into it!
We returned to as soon as schedules lined up with bikes, boards, Tad’s VX and a few more members of BNGBNG, plus Rosie Rainford jumped in with me to skate and assist on the shoot.
Knowing that we could be thrown out at any moment led everyone to start shredding straight away. Dom O’mahoney, Tariq Haouche and Louis Robinson (Moz) threw a ton of bangers on the steep pool bank, Tad shot it all on tape. An hour in, Tariq threw the most ridiculous pocket wall to wall in the deep end before we decided it was time to make it into a DIY pool spot, adding a few ramps to make it a little more user friendly.
Enter BNGBNG BUILDER. Our secret weapon who handled every aspect of the ramp build. It didn’t take long before something was thrown together and with our new addition to the spot the session continued. Dom was first to test the new ramp, throwing out a barspin, followed by Rick Row with a footplant. We rode the pool until the room was pitch black and the batteries on both my flashes ran out. With the last of Tad’s VX light Tariq dropped 8ft into the pool’s new ramp and shut down the session.
"Knowing that we could be thrown out at any moment led everyone to start shredding straight away."
A top day all around but with news from the graffiti artists that the building was getting renovated and locked off for good soon, we decided it needed at least one more venture. This time around I wanted to see what park riders would make of the spot. Lee Hebb and Alan Schofield came down along with the BNGBNG lot. The second we arrived BNGBNG BUILDER got straight to work on fashioning a bigger and better ramp. An hour’s labouring and the job was complete. Along with the new ramp, a sub box (in the form of an old locker) was added above the first ramp. At this point the pool was getting wet from condensation, but lucky for us BNGBNG BUILDER managed to salvage carpet tiles from somewhere which combatted that problem. Some final aesthetic touches and the DIY pool spot, in all its glory, was complete.
Lee was the first to hit the new ramp, smashing out a huge flair. Quickly followed by Alan throwing a whip and then a double whip on his second hit. BNGBNG rider, Chris Smith was first to transfer ramp to ramp proving that the wood was holding strong. Everyone began riding the setup at full pelt. Moz hit the locker going straight in with a double peg to barspin and for the next hour everyone rode as hard as possible. We were losing light fast and couldn’t escape the fact that this could be the last time we hit our spot. Just before we were engulfed in complete darkness, Hebby threw a no-hander down the 8ft drop into our original ramp and with that we decided it was time to call it a day.
“After what we managed over two days I can only dream of what we could have done with a week in the place."
It’s real shitter that our spot wasn’t going to last long, with what we managed over two days I can only dream of what we could have done with a week in the place. I guess that’s the beauty and curse of DIY spots. You never know when it's going to be destroyed and taken away from you. It makes the time you spend riding the spot all the more valuable, it pushes you to try something different. Finally, when you eventually lose the spot it’s onto the next one to see what else can be created.