Young riders hope to bring BMX track back to life

Tyneside Outdoor's Gerard New and youngsters Harry Sandell, Harvey Neary, Kieran Thirkettle, are restoring the old BMX bike track at Temple Park,
Tyneside Outdoor's Gerard New and youngsters Harry Sandell, Harvey Neary, Kieran Thirkettle, are restoring the old BMX bike track at Temple Park,

YOUNG people are hoping to breathe new life into an old BMX track for keen riders in South Tyneside.

The group, supported by Tyneside Outdoors, has started to clear away brambles on Temple Park Playing Fields, in South Shields.

The project was sparked after a chance conversation between teenagers and Gerard New, one of the founders of the outdoor-based charity.

He had been walking his dog on the playing fields when he came across teenager Leon Carr who, along with friends, were trying to clear a pathway for the BMXers to use.

It is thought the track – the only one of its kind left in the region – was built in the early 1980s when the biking craze was at its peak.

The group is now hoping to return the track to its former glory as well as carry out a research and archeology project on its history.

Mr New said: “I had been walking the dog when I saw some young people clearing the path. When I asked them what they were doing, I thought this was a project the charity could help them with.

“We are aiming to make the track usable again as it is so overgrown.

“You can still see some of the tyres which were used to outline the track. We are hoping to find out more about the track, its history, who designed it and who was involved in building it.

“However, we really want young people to benefit from the track being restored.”

Around 12 young people, aged between 12 to 21 years old, are involved in the project.

Teenager Leon Carr said: “I had been clearing some of the bushes away from the track when Gerard came over and asked us what we were doing.

“We come down her regularly, and since we started clearing it more people have been coming down to use it.

“This whole project was started with a chance encounter and I’m overjoyed someone has taken an interest in what we are trying to do for other young people.

“We would like the track so well used we have to wait for a turn.”

As well as the bike track, archeologist Marc Barkman-Astles, from Archaeosoup, has also been enlisted for his help.

Mr Barkman-Astles said: “I have been brought in to see if there is any archeological interest.

“If this site was 1,000 years old it would be classed as a heritage site but just because it is only 30 years old doesn’t mean there is not any historical interest.

“It is such an exciting project.”

Tyneside Outdoor is a registered charity founded by Mr New and Kath Lohfink, and aims to deliver youth and community work based around healthy out-of-doors activities.

The group is now asking local dog walkers and other users of Temple Park to share their knowledge of the park’s history, especially the bike track.

For information on the charity, visit www.tynesideoutdoors.org.uk
@ShieldsGaz Lisa