'Smashed it out of the park': ROM Skatepark celebrates 40th anniversary with new Hardline event
PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:29 13 September 2018
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An event that hoped to put "ROM Skatepark back on the map" saw hundreds of bikers, skateboarders, artists and designers come together to remember the unique history of a Hornchurch skatepark.
Rom SKatepark in Upper Rainham Road celebrated its 40th anniversary with a new event, Hardline on Sunday, September 9 to remember the unique history of the skatepark.
“We smashed it out of the park. It was an enormous success,” said the organiser of Hardline, Paul Welch.
“It was quite chilled out and people really appreciated the venue, and it’s history.
“People just wanted to swap stories and hang out somewhere where they used to hang out when they were young.
“That’s what was really quite beautiful about the day, people bumped into people they hadn’t seen in a while. It was very nostalgic.”
From designers who create furniture out of skateboards, to Harley Dogs providing food by towing a barbecue from the back of a Harley motorcycle, Hardline brought together a range of artwork, food and apparel for visitors to enjoy.
Paul told the Recorder: “There were six-year-olds who came and 50 and 60-year-olds that had got their skate board out of the loft for the day.
“It was very diverse, but we clearly had something in common - that we hadn’t been to the park since we were young.
Hardline began after a conversation between BMX rider, Paul and skateboarder, Matt Harris at the beginning of this year.
“It began as a vague idea we had in early 2018 and evolved to maybe 100 bikers, 30 skateboarders, 20 BMX riders, artists and clothing designers - all turning up in support of the idea for the day.
“It’s quite hard to put into words when something so embryonic like this happens. The whole idea was to try and put ROM Skatepark back on the map.
“ROM was a home for me for many years, it kept me out of trouble and it helped me build character as a young 12 or 14-year-old.
“It was an adventure. People my age will remember that sense of freedom - you woke up on a Saturday morning, told your mum where your going and jumped on a train to Romford.”
Krazy Horse Custom Motorcycles was the main sponsor the event, along with Slick Willies Skate Shop, a skateboarding company from Kensington.
Slick Willies donated 15 skateboards for a raffle which helped raise around £300 for the skatepark.
Paul added: “We were organised but we gave a lot of artistic license to the designers and artists for them to do what they wanted.
“People were very generous and that was the whole accent of the day - trying to give something back whilst we celebrated all of the creative people that come from ROM.”
Speaking about what makes ROM skatepark special, Paul explained that the park is unique in that it provides a safe place for young skateboarders.
“At a lot of the new skateparks you don’t know who you’re going to get turning up at the park.
“The issue and challenge for [ROM] is that it’s privately run, so you have to pay to come in.
“People will ask why do we have to pay, and it’s because we’re looking after you.
“If there’s any trouble, you can come to us and we’ll sort it out. We don’t tolerate bullying.”
The Rom skatepark gained Grade II listing in 2014 and secured funds from a lottery grant for redevelopment as an open space.
Matt Harris filmed parts of the event which will be featured in his upcoming documentary.
Hardline took an enormous amount of organising, but there is hope that the event might return next year.
“I do believe we could be on the verge of something very new and fresh for London,” said Paul.