What the Temple Raiders teenagers discovered as exhibition unveils the history of the lost Temple Park BMX track

Young people have revealed the fruits of their labour after a two-year project exploring the history of the Temple Park BMX track.

By Sarah Sinclair
Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 6:00 am

An exhibition unveiling the discoveries made by the Temple Raiders bike group has gone on display at Cleadon Park Library on Prince Edward Road, South Shields.

As part of a Heritage Lottery funded project launched in 2018 by youth group Tyneside Outdoors, a group of young people have spent two years exploring the creation of the BMX track in Temple Memorial Park.

The track opened in 1983 at the height of the 80s BMX craze, after a petition was put to the council to give young people a safe place to ride their bikes.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and Gerard New with the Temple Raiders group.

The project saw the young people work with archaeologist Marc Barkman-Astles to survey and record the track, uncovering items which included a Blackberry mobile phone and an unopened bottle of Stella Artois, along the way.

They will now be named compilers on the survey which will be recorded on a national database, in what is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.

Marc Barkman-Astles, of Archaeosoup Productions said: “It has been a really interesting project.

“The BMX Track in Temple Park is very well preserved, compared to others around the region, some of which have disappeared completely.

Items discovered at the Temple Park BMX track.

“We believe it’s going to be the first BMX track of its kind recorded in the UK, possibly even the world. It could be the start of a larger effort to record other tracks around the country, adding to the story of the nation’s post-war urban landscape.”

The project has also seen the young people visit BMX tracks around the region and take a trip to The Rom in London.

They were encouraged to create their own bike group the Temple Raiders, which saw them compete in races across the North East and develop skills in bike maintenance.

Temple Raiders rider, Aslyn Tooley, 13, said: “It’s been exciting and thrilling to be a part of this project. I’ve learned how to BMX and how to fix bikes and I would encourage more girls to get involved.”

Members of the Temple Raiders clearing the BMX track in 2016.

Gerard New, youth and community worker at Tyneside Outdoors (TO) commented: “It’s great to see it all come together.

“TO is all about getting young people active outdoors and a bike is a great thing to be able to get the outdoors with. We're hoping to get something built in South Tyneside so the young people can train and play here.”

He added: “I'm really grateful for all the kind of support and help that we've had along the way and we'll be looking for funds to try and keep the group going.”

The launch of the exhibition at Cleadon Park Library.

The exhibition is on display at Cleadon Park Library from Tuesday, February 18 to Saturday, February 22.

A documentary about the group’s work Raiders of Temple Park will be available soon.