Published Wednesday 25 May 2022 at 10:37
The £1.2m transformation of a skate park in Darwen is just weeks away from completion.
And, already two international events have been booked at Junction 4 Skatepark – which is set to host Olympic trials and attract visitors from around the world.
A grand opening is now being planned for the end of June with the British Olympic BMX Freestyle Team set to attend and be some of the first to test out the new facilities.
Anthony Ramsey, who runs the popular facility next to Darwen Vale High School, said:
I still can’t believe this is happening.
To see how the whole skate park has been transformed over the last year really is a dream.
When we took over the park in 2017, we grew the turnover by 500% in just the first year which was astounding.
But, when the pandemic hit two years later, we were forced to shut and were on the brink of having to close our doors forever which was just heart breaking.
Anthony sought help from Blackburn with Darwen Council who were able to support him in securing £250,000 of funding through the Darwen Town Deal.
The money acted as a catalyst, with Anthony going on to successfully bid for further grants, including from British Cycling.
Once completed, the skate park will boast a world-class street skate park, a word-class BMX freestyle park and world-class dirt jumps.
There will also be beginners and learning areas and pump tracks.
This is actually only the start,
We’re already looking at phase two which would boast a training facility to help riders to Olympic standards.
It’s crazy to think we’ve gone from being one of the smallest skate parks in the country to now one of the very best.
This will be a facility where athletes will travel to but, just as importantly, a facility for the whole local community with the skate park, a training room for hire, a new cocktail bar and plans for a small retail village for local businesses.
The thing I’m genuinely looking forward to most is seeing local youngsters out there on the new jumps – perhaps one day Darwen will have its own Olympian!
Olympic BMX Freestyle gold medallist, Charlotte Worthington MBE, and her teammate, bronze medalist, Declan Brooks are already regulars at the skate park having used the facilities to train during lockdown for the Tokyo games.
It’s run by a not-for-profit, community interest company which received accelerator funding from the Town Deal Board, made available by the Government for ‘quick-win projects.’
Along with upgrades at AFC Darwen – which are currently underway – it’ll be part of a new Sports Village for the town boasting top-class facilities.
Wayne Wild, Chair of Darwen Town Deal, said:
It really is an incredible story of how the skate park has gone from being on the brink of closure to now a world-class facility.
The whole purpose of the Town Deal Fund is to transform towns and for Darwen to be home to an Olympic facility is an incredible feat.
It gives our youngsters access to a top skate park, will help create new jobs and draw in visitors from far and wide.
Anthony and the team at Junction 4 have worked tirelessly on making this happen and the end result is testament to his hard work and sheer determination to do something amazing for Darwen.
The restoration of Darwen Tower was also funded through the accelerator project.
A further £25m has been secured from Government – the full amount available – with business cases now being developed for how that could be best spent.
Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council and Deputy Chair of the Town Deal Board, said:
This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through the Town Deal and a really exciting start.
This is a facility that Darwen and the whole surrounding area can be very proud of and as Anthony says, this is just the start!