The year when skateboarding hit Hartlepool’s streets

A skateboarder in action in Hartlepool in the early days of the craze.
A skateboarder in action in Hartlepool in the early days of the craze.

Forty years ago, it was the hottest trend around.

It was in 1977 that skateboarding was first making its mark on Hartlepool.

Round Tabler Ron Norman has a go.

Round Tabler Ron Norman has a go.

There was talk at the time on whether £50,000 should be spent on a skatepark.

And when the Hartlepool Mail asked the children of the era, they had no doubt at all.

Chris Cordner looks back on a trend which took the world by storm.

Who remembers those early days of skateboarding?

It’s topical, because we have seen so many children on the streets, and because we wanted to organise something with children strongly at the fore

Bob Harkness

The children of Hartlepool in 1977 and 1978 certainly will. A skateboard was the gift of choice from Father Christmas and it went down an absolute treat.

A Hartlepool Mail report at the time said: “Since its introduction to Britain, the sport of skateboarding has snowballed and every street now seems to have its quotient of young fanatics.”

Just ask the youngsters of the day.

Graham Connor and Bruce Turnbull were two 13-year-olds who practising their skills on the Central Trading Estate.

They told the Mail at the time: “We got our boards for Christmas and use them for quite a few hours every day.

“What we really need is a proper skate park set aside for the skateboarders.

“We always stick to the same area because it is away from people and traffic.”

It was not a cheap hobby either. Boards cost £16 each 40 years ago. Protective padding was £7.

But that did not stop the likes of Andrew Huntley, Bruce Kinnersley, John Sutton, Julie Tweddle and Sandra Wallace, who were all practising when a Mail team paid a visit.

Andrew said at the time: “There is no way that it is going to die out.

“I am going to be doing this for a good few years yet.”

Mail reporter Steve Palmer decided to have a go himself. He reported: “My first attempt on a gentle incline led to disaster as I slipped backwards and collapsed on the ground.”

And he predicted that the craze was not going to disappear overnight.

As if to prove its point as a trailblazer, Hartlepool was chosen as the first North East venue to hold the Open Skateboarding Championship.

It was organised by Hartlepool Round Table and 80 people were invited to take part.

This was no smale-scale affair either. Preliminary heats were being organised and they would last for a week.

After that, a grand finale was being lined up.

Round Table Bob Harkness explained at the time why the competition was being held.

“It’s topical, because we have seen so many children on the streets, and because we wanted to organise something with children strongly at the fore,” he said.

The cost of takng part was 30p a category or £1 to enter the lot.

Did you take part in that first ever skateboard competition and how did you get on?

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk with your own skateboarding memories.