All photography by Rob Whiston.
After being placed on hiatus for a number of years, Raiders of the Lost Park is under new management, and continuing with the exploration of some of the more bizarre and challenging public facilities that the U.K. has to offer.
First up in the resurrected series is the metal mayhem of Mexborough. During the final weekend of January, as Storm Malik caused chaos all over the country, the likes of Dead Dave, Moggins, Ben Broyd, James Woodley, Ron Calow and more layered up and got stuck into South Yorkshire's cutting edge arena of athletic merriment.
So, first up - where is Mexborough? I always placed it just next to Sheffield, but it turns out I was a little bit out in my geographical estimations, but not by too much. It's closer to Rotherham, on the edge of the Denaby Ings Nature Reserve, and I first heard the name when a friend of mine - James Millar, from nearby-ish Upton - told us about 20 years back now that Mexborough town centre was littered with an assortment of red brick bank formations. We never got round to skating them back then, and with a population of somewhere around 15,000, the town centre isn't the size where you can casually wander in and embark upon a quiet session without disturbing the local residents. We had planned to drop by the banks once we'd finished the days Raiders session, but the requirement of an A&E visit for Mr Broyd quickly put that idea on South Yorkshire ice.
Dave gets upside down on the most sensible obstacle in Mexborough.
Ron takes Storm Malik on head first and grinds his way over the Three Peaks.
Once we'd announced that Raiders was to be brought kicking and screaming out of retirement in the new year, Sheffield's most deceased lover of madcap terrain, Dave 'Dead Dave' Adlington, was one of the first to reach out, offering up a couple of photos of the enticing Mexborough set-up. You could tell from first glance that it's a victim of the "here's something of a budget and a patch of land, the kids want a skateboard park" local council mentality that did the rounds in the years following the Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game boom. If you'd only ever previously glanced at a skatepark once or twice, then the obstacles probably look like they do the job. When you approach any of them in hopes of doing some actual skateboarding, then you realise how impractical a lot of them essentially are. For a start, the proportions are all completely out of whack. The transitions are completely wrong for the sizes of the ramps (the six foot vert ramp), things are too low (the driveway rail), have no run up (the handrail), have no run out (the brilliant beyond words kicker to grass), the angles are far too severe to actually skate (also the handrail), or are made of the wrong materials (unless you wanted to go for that authentic New York corrugated cellar door effect on your already impossible to skate steep hip). Furthermore, the flat bottom of the previously mentioned vert ramp has warped around the underlying framework, making it almost impossible to manual across comfortably. These skateparks - oftentimes complete with a cutting edge tarmac floor - are in an abundance around the North, though this one in Mexborough seems to offer a wide cross section of the metallic range that they were all presumably bought from.
You've got to pay to play, especially in M-Town. Ben Broyd gaps to crook moment before the same obstacle sent him hobbling to A&E.
You're a long way from home, Jim. Best restore some normality with a backside noseblunt.
Safe to say there's nothing fun about this funbox. Cellar doors? Industrial chicken coups? I'm not too sure what those things dumped either side of the driveway are, but either way, Ron ollies the lot.
I couldn't safely say when the last time Mexborough skatepark would have actually had seen a session - or if it ever had, for that matter - but the locals were definitely surprised by our appearance on a Saturday afternoon in January. From dog walkers to bored youths, everyone was interested in why were at their local park, en masse, in the middle of a storm. Interested, and seemingly stoked...if not a little confused, understandably.
Dave gives his vertical smith grind a layback twist for the entertainment of a temporarily crippled Ben Broyd.
Anyway, marvel at Rob's photography, enjoy the accompanying edit, and remind yourself that irregular facilities such as this are in an abundance all over the country, and with the right assembled crew, even the most bizarre of them can still offer up a genuine laugh.
Until next time!
I'm not sure it's possible to get any closer to death. The Dead Man, frontside air. Admire that platform...
Reunited in South Yorkshire after 16 years, Ben Powell - the original Raiders ringmaster - and James Woodley.