Hastings’ new world-class skatepark
“Is this the most famous-est skate park in the world?” asked my awe-struck six-year-old nephew after a session at Hastings’ spanking new The Source. I laughed, but in a way he’s not far wrong.
Opened just a few weeks back, the park is creating a massive buzz in the skateboard and BMX fraternity, with aficionados coming from far and wide to try out its beautifully crafted wooden bowls and ramps, some of which are unique.
Naturally when something this big comes to Sussex I have to give it a try, so I dusted off my skateboard and headed down there to pull some sweet pliés, triple salchows and downward dogs. OK, I have no idea what I’m talking about and I once broke both arms (yes, both) roller-skating, so it was up to my nephews (six and eight) to give it a whirl for you.
The park itself, right next to the pier, is a great venue. Partly underground, it is built inside what was once a Victorian Turkish Bath.
As a mini exhibition near the entrance shows, people would come here to take warm saltwater baths for the good of their health, before retiring for a fag or two in the smoking room. In later years the building was a cinema, swimming pool, then ice rink, before lying derelict from the 1990s. Cycle and skate shop SourceBMX at nearby St Leonards is behind its amazing transformation.
Because it’s indoors, it’s weather proof – fantastic for kids and teens to let off steam on rainy days – and it still has the old baths’ viewing gallery, making a visit fun for even non-boarders and bikers. Though, be warned, heating is very limited so wrap up warm if you’re spectating in cooler months.
It wasn’t the ideal day for the kids to get onto the park as there was an open session followed by a launch showcase from visiting professionals. The staff members were very accommodating, showing them a shallow bowl in which they could practise away from the teens who were jumping to the pumping music but it’s best to book an under-11s session like the one below.
The boys struggled to master the BMXs, which have backwards sloping saddles set low so your knees bow up clown-like. After a bit of tentative bowl action they retired to the empty concrete path down one side and that’s when things really took off. They got the hang of the bikes and spent about an hour and a half doing little circuits and ‘jumps’ over a tiny ridge in the path while their dad and I paced to keep warm and took videos at their behest…“now, now when I do the ramp!”
The youngest, who’s a bit of a daredevil, was by now raring to get back onto the proper ramps amid the flying professionals and it took a lot of persuasion to get them both to join us instead for a much-needed adult break in the café up on one side of the gallery.
This proved a top spot with some welcome heat lamps, video games for bribes, and board artwork on sale for charity adorning the walls. Getting totally down with the boarding/biking types I had err carrot cake and camomile tea, while the boys got a £3.50 meal deal of sandwiches (cut into crustless quarters), Pom Bear crisps and a drink.
Best of all, from the café you get a fantastic view of expert teens or your own darlings (if you can bear to watch) going through their paces. One of the professionals we saw jumped to my brother’s eye level.
With or without kids, I’d certainly dip in to the cafe for a diversion on a rainy day in Hastings. Even the shop held the boys’ attention as a man there was making a skateboard.
There were tears from the youngest when we left, pleas for a BMX birthday present, and a promise from us that the boys could come back for a kids’ session another time. I’d say it was a hit.
The Source is open seven days a week. Sessions are great value at £6 each and we parked on the road opposite for 80p for the afternoon (cue fainting Brightonians). The website is a little confusing but scroll down and look at the grid here for the various sessions including several a week for under-11s and a dedicated girls-only night to help them build confidence away from macho types. Fill in the online form before you go to avoid queueing at the venue.
Source Park, White Rock, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 1JL 01424 238360