Nostalgia: Kirkcaldy goes (briefly) skateboard crazy

A skateboard session at Kirkcaldy Boys' Club in Linton Lane in January of 1978.
A skateboard session at Kirkcaldy Boys' Club in Linton Lane in January of 1978.

It’s January 1978. Scotland are six months away from their Argentinian World Cup fiasco whilst the Fife Free Press was reporting on the skateboarding phenomenon that was sweeping the nation.

Such was the popularity of “the country’s fastest growing craze” that one residents’ group in Kirkcaldy planned to start up a regular bus service to a skateboarding centre at Falkirk.

Local councillors David Stewart and John Stewart meet with the skateboarders at Linton Lane.

Local councillors David Stewart and John Stewart meet with the skateboarders at Linton Lane.

The man behind the idea was Mr Eric Murray, chairman of the Torbain Amenities Group, who told the FFP: “We are simply trying to provide something the kids in the area want as we recently received a petition from them with 200 names on it.

“Falkirk Ice Rink has now been converted into a skateboarding centre and it is our intention to hire buses to take the local youngsters through.”

Pressure was building on Kirkcaldy District Council to provide a permanent place for local skaters to meet which sparked off a bitter row which would end when skateboarding’s popularity dramatically plummeted.

A scheme was proposed which would see £50,000 spent in providing skateboarding facilities in three areas of Kirkcaldy District.

The project was included in the District Council’s Job Creation programmes, and was revealed at a meeting of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee.

But one councillor called the scheme a ‘waste of money’ while another claimed that the Council’s priorities were ’absolutely cock-eyed’.

Councillor James Brodie, of Kirkcaldy Ratepayers’ Association expressed the opinion that skateboarding was only a temporary craze and the spending of £50,000 was something the Council could not justify.

He felt the Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy which had been used as a temporary skateboarding area over the Christmas school holidays was an ideal area, his views backed by Cllr Robert King of the Policy and Resources Committee.

But Cllr Charles Gardner, the chairman of the Leisure and Recreation Committee, reminded members of the popularity of skateboarding, saying the Council had received three petitions from Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes and Leven asking for facilities to be provided, while a fourth petition was on the way from Methil.

Two local Kirkcaldy councillors met with a skateboarding group at Linton Lane as the plan was pushed forward.

But a week later, after failing to get the full Council to think again, Cllr Brodie revealed he would be writing a letter of protest to Bruce Millan, the Secretary of State, such was the strength of his objections.

He said that since the previous week’s front page report in the Fife Free Press, a number of people had approached him and had expressed agreement with him.

“I will be pointing out to Mr Millan”, he said, ”that I feel skateboarding is not as popular as it is made out be.”

Seven weeks later Cllr Brodie said he still hadn’t received a reply but had written “a very pointed letter” to Mr Millan, hoping his protest was being given serious consideration.

But there was a further twist in the tale, as it seemed that in just two months Cllr Brodie’s “temporary craze” remark had proved accurate.

The Kirkcaldy heat of the national British Skateboard Championships to be held at the ice rink was cancelled due to a lack of entrants, whilst rinks in Edinburgh and Falkirk were closed down as they were not being used.

This proved to be enough for the District Council and it announced at the end of April that it would not be building the skateboard rinks after all.