Interview with Ben Powell
Ben recalls finding a skateboard from the 1970s at his parent’s house, but was first inspired to start skateboarding when he saw ‘Back to the Future’ in 1984. He started skating around the estate of Wakefield with his brother and step brother.
Ben first skateboarded in Milton Keynes in 1992 at the Bus Station. He remembers feeling intimidated by the type of technical skateboarding he saw. He was not used to the architecture, but he imagined that it was what Los Angeles looked like; with the smooth floors and geometric shaping. Ben elaborates on how skateboarding in the late 1980s and early 1990s was being developed, with new tricks being invented and a crossing over from an earlier version of freestyle skating. For this skating to take place you need smooth surfaces and Milton Keynes provided this.
Ben was a former editor of ‘Sidewalk Magazine’, which was initially called ‘Sidewalk Surf’ Magazine. At the time it was the only British skateboard magazine. Ben was involved with it from Issue 1. He would choose places to hold photoshoots of tours, and would help to create videos linked to the magazine. He explains how Milton Keynes was ‘tied in intrinsically to the development of that magazine’. It was featured in every issue of the near 200 issues created over a twenty year period. With no internet, magazines were the main source of information about places to skate, new tricks and who was good. Ben talks of the most impressive tricks he remembers and who did them. The magazine documented when the American teams did a tour of Britain. The Americans had heard of Milton Keynes because of its marble blocks that they had seen in videos, and they found it familiar because of the grid layout. Ben believes that Milton Keynes left ‘an incredible mark’ on ‘global culture’.