Burgess Park is one of London’s largest parks and is found between Peckham, Camberwell and Walworth.
Unlike other London parks, Burgess Park used to be a built up area of housing and the idea for Burgess Park came out of the 1943 Abercrombie Plan for open spaces in London. In the years since then it has been run by different bodies, currently Southwark Council, and in 2014 is undergoing revitalisation to the tune of £6 million. Most evidently, it was the first park to have designated barbeque areas, which are particularly popular with the local South American community. And then there is the BMX track.
We went down yesterday, as Peckham BMX Club was holding its first race event at its new track, which opened at Burgess Park in August 2013, the result of 4 years of fundraising. There were DJs, food stalls and races for non-members to ‘rock up and ride’, as well as demos from professional riders including 16-year old world champion Quillan Isidore.
This was my first time and I was really impressed at the track. I know the previous quarter-sized track at Naylor Road and, in comparison, this one is of a different class. Smooth tracks, CCTV, floodlights, it is a more fitting site for a club which trains up kids and sends them off to the Olympic Development team and turns them into national and sometimes even (as in the case of Isidore) world champions. The club website tells me in more technical terms that it is one of the largest BMX tracks in the UK at 350 metres with three 3 metre high berms. Its 70 metre pro straight is one of the most challenging in the country, with only a handful of riders being able to jump it.
I am just guessing now but when you think of areas such as Walworth and Peckham, or if you know anything about the Aylesbury Estate, a bright shiny image of happy, well-adjusted youth won’t necessarily spring to mind. If you don’t know its name, one quick Google will tell you about the Aylesbury Estate’s bad reputation. This estate is right behind the track, and highlights the perfect positioning of a club which wishes to attract kids who are crying out for a positive route in the world.
The man behind the Peckham BMX Club is DJ CK Flash, who began the club on its first site on Naylor Road back in 2004, with just 4 kids. By 2008 it was the No 1 BMX Club in England.
CK Flash is a man impassioned by his cause, and his team inspires and guides the kids that train with the club. When we arrived, CK was opening the event presenting his squad and talking about the club. He also introduced a local business man Winston Goode, who supports and encourages local youth with enterprises such as London Youth and Build It Lambeth. Mr Goode had donated a bike to a child who could now continue with his training. With the estates looming behind us, it was inspiring to see the kids who live in the area being given these chances to train regularly and gain skills associated with BMX riding. Not every kid will earn a medal from BMX, but the initiative is amazing and I would be proud if either of my kids ever joined the club.
I am never going to be an action photographer, let’s face it, but here are some photographs of the park and of Peckham BMX Club (click to enlarge).
Both kids agreed that the BMX riders were awesome. ‘Can I have a BMX bike for Christmas?’ our son asked us. We will see about that but if you have kids who are interested in BMX, or if you would like to support Peckham BMX Club with a donation, I urge you to go and talk to CK Flash.
Peckham BMX Club trains in Burgess Park, Albany Road London SE5 0AN
Training times are Wednesday and Thursday 6.30pm – 8.30pm Saturday 10.30am -1pm. Session cost £3 for members £5 for non members. Annual membership £15.
They also have a Facebook page which you can go and like.
One Way Up is a film in post production about the Peckham BMX Club, made by Oscar winning Shine Global in New York. It follows top riders Tre Whyte and Quillan Isidore in their struggles to reach the World Championships. Funding is being sought for the film – to donate or to find out more, look at the link here.