Bournbrook DIY: The Skate Spot Taking Brum By Storm
If you're locked into the world of skateboarding, you may have heard about Bournbrook DIY, a skatepark that popped up in Selly Oak, Birmingham, amidst the COVID lockdown of summer 2020. If you haven't heard, no worries, because we hit up Shaun (@shaun_boyle1), the project founder, to find out more.
This space started out as a dead spot, neglected by the council and ended up being a social hub for skaters from all over. Here's how it started...
Shauwn, so how did Bournbrook start?
The project really started when I discovered the space. I was thinking about it a lot and I'd told a couple friends about the spot. I'd just moved to this part of Birmingham and very much wanted to make something to skate here. French Matt was the guy who really kickstarted the project with me, hitting it together each weekend, clearing up this untouched spot with just a vision to make something.
The spot is public space and open, but was very much abandoned when we found it. It was essentially just a big concrete slab surrounded by a small brick wall. Very overgrown and untouched for many years. It sits inside a graffiti park, the place looks like it should have always had a skatepark there. It was a no-brainer haha. So we got cleaning up the spot and later on found 12 curbs that together made the perfect block to skate.
From there it really snowballed because Kris (@krisvile) from Ideal Birmingham introduced us to Hem who’s our main builder and the wizard with the concrete. He’s built many official and DIY parks in the past. We made an Insta and rallied people up to get down to the builds and shout out for materials. We began to meet so many incredible people and lockdown meant everyone had a bit of time to contribute to this place and really make it special. It didn’t take long before we had formed a strong team and some great friendships among us and the wider community.
Did you intend to start a community or did it just happen?
The community was and has always been there, it's just that without these kinds of places it’s easy for so many skaters to knock about the same places/city and not meet one another. Bournbrook has brought a lot of people together and not to just skate but also to create and build something incredible together as a community. There has been a greater sense of community though, since Bournbrook, becoming the well-rooted connections we have all made around this amazing place we created ourselves. Bournbrook has become its own family still.
What were the steps you had to take with the council in order to be allowed to stay?
There have almost been too many hurdles to mention them all but the first would have been defiance and not taking no for an answer haha. After that and carrying on building, the main factor would be the quality and production of the ramps. Having to prove to the city council that we can build a park to the British/EN specification and with all the correct materials. This is the first DIY Birmingham City Council haven’t knocked down and first illegal skatepark to acclaim official skatepark status (through having ROSPA and council approval) so considering the council was going to knock it down, we had come a long way!
Do you get any support from organizations?
Yes, we do now. We have a strategic partnership with SkateboardingGB so these guys have been an absolute lifesaver in terms of negotiating with the council and having a collective voice with as much substance and grassroots community backing as these guys so thanks Chris and Neil you legends! These guys work so hard endlessly to improve what skateboarding is and stands for. Much props. We have friendly support and discount from a local builders merchant (selco) and as of more recently, Vans are supporting us.
The first Brum Girl Skate event happened last month, how did it go? And will there be more events happening soon?
I was stoked to see the Brum Girl Skate event happen at Bournbrook. The spot has facilitated a place where girls can be as included in the scene as anyone. It's a small park but everyone soon gets to know each other and it's the intimate friendly vibe that’s so accommodating I think. To see the girls completely run it for the day was awesome, lots of rad skating and good vibes went down, so I'd be stoked to see that happen again. Respect to Alice (@_palice) for organizing that day, and to everyone who came.
What do u see in the future for Bournbrook?
I would love to see the banks at the bottom of the park skateable, that’s the vision, and to host other community events such as skate sessions, exhibitions, premiers etc but really is one step at a time and see what happens, I’m not spilling too much haha.
Go show some love to Bournbrook by following them on IG and staying connected with the journey and news.
Also watch this space for the Bournbrook official opening summer jam next month!! We'll be going down and documenting the day for those of you who won't make it (you're welcome!).