South Shields BMX track project wins lottery grant to send young people on trip to the 1980s
The history of a lost BMX dirt track on land gifted to the people of South Shields is set to be unearthed thanks to a Â£39,000 lottery grant.
Young people from across South Tyneside will join youth workers from Tyneside Outdoors (TO) to find out more about the track, on Temple Memorial Park, which entertained a generation of bike fans during the 1980s.
The track has lain neglected for the past three decades and overgrown by brambles, bushes, nettles and other vegetation.
But now, thanks to a £39,800 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) its history is about to be shared to a new generation of young people.
The group will discover the full layout of the track, the history of the park itself, including a Cycle Speedway Track that was once located at the park, as well as the natural history of the park working alongside Durham Wildlife Trust.
A key part of the project will see the group explore 1980s leisure and culture.
Gerard New, Youth and Community Worker with TO said, “Thanks to this funding raised by National Lottery players, I’m particularly looking forward to the group exploring aspects of the 1980’s era; its music, culture and the political climate at the time. We’ve already had some great fun helping young people to understand how a cassette tape works and what a walkman was and we hope the group will create some of their own 1980’s mix tapes.”
“We’re really looking forward to hearing from local people who used to ride their BMXs on the track when they were young and urge people to get in touch if they know anything about the BMX Track, the cycle speedway track or any other information about Temple Memorial Park.”
The project will take in visits to other BMX tracks, including some within the North East, and also ‘The Rom’ in London which is the first Skate Park in Europe to achieve listed status (Grade II). The group will also receive training in bike maintenance. The aim of the project is to help young people gain some valuable heritage skills; researching, surveying, recording, interviewing, and bike maintenance too.
Niall Reedman, one of the young people in the project said: “It will be good to see what the track looked like back in the 1980s and to see some of the other tracks in the area.”
Last year TO ran three events in Temple Park as part of Cycling UK’s, Big Bike Revival. With the help of a small crowdfunding campaign the group managed to raise funds to buy and revive 6 discarded BMXs and gave them away to local young people through a free prize draw.
Gerard New said, “We are hoping to run the Big (BMX) Bike Revival events again this year and hope the young people are up for reviving some more BMXs and getting more young people outdoors on their bikes.”
While, the lottery grant has funded the majority of the project, Tyneside Outdoors still needs to raise £7,000 to ensure the project is a success - this will be raised through aditional funding applications and fundraising events organised by the group of young people involved.
People can get in touch with Tyneside Outdoors through its website www.tynesideoutdoors.org.uk