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Source Park - Rich and Marc Moore

2017 Angel Awards joint-winners for Best Rescue of a Historic Building, Brothers Rich and Marc Moore, rescued a derelict Victorian swimming pool and turned it into a state-of-the-art facility for BMX riders and skaters from around the world. Source Park, Hastings, created 30 jobs and is now an Olympic-standard training facility.
 

It is hard to imagine a more playful rescue of a historic building than the transformation of the Victorian White Rock Baths into the underground BMX park Source Park, the brainchild of Marc and Rich Moore. In Marc’s words, “Everything we do comes from us just wanting to have fun on our bikes.” The brothers’ wish to share their passion for BMX riding - and skating - has created a unique facility in the heart of Hastings.

Portrait photograph of Marc Moore and Rich Moore at Source Park, Hastings, East Sussex
Marc and Rich Moore at Source Park, Hastings, East Sussex

Skating under the seafront

Originally built in 1874 as Turkish baths, the building was acquired by Hastings Corporation in 1925 and turned into swimming baths. A few decades later it had fallen into disrepair, but Rich and Marc (who have ridden BMX bikes all their lives and had skated in the old baths before they were closed down) saw the potential to create a brand-new facility for BMX riding and skating right under the seafront.

“Marc was looking for new storage space (for products from their BMX mail order brand: The Source) and we found out that the council was desperate to find a new use for the old swimming building,” said Rich. “They’d had quotes for pumping it full of concrete. We had a tour and realised what a great venue it could be.”

Rather than allowing the Victorian baths to be filled with concrete, the brothers raised seed funding of £49,000 through The Source to kick-start a project to rescue the site. The pair eventually increased this to £1.2 million through a successful application to the Coastal Community Fund 3, in partnership with Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council.

Young swimmers at White Rock Baths, 1932
Young swimmers at White Rock Baths, 1932

Olympic challenge

For the renovation of a derelict underground Victorian building, there can be no shortcuts; and the renovation entailed a few bumps and scrapes on the way. The old floor was extensively excavated in order to drop ramps into the pool area for more height and deck space. But before the ramps could be dropped in, the building required a total overhaul: plumbing and electricity needed to be installed and a hole needed to be drilled through the main road to install broadband. The rebuild uncovered unforeseen technical issues: the sea wall comprises one side of the building and the original seawater baths had diverted a stream into the building which had to be pumped back out to sea to prevent flooding. Because it is not possible to guarantee long-term integrity of the site, the building has been let to The Source on a ten-year lease.

Working with Saville Jones Architects, Marc and Rich overcame the necessary construction challenges to create a state-of-the-art facility that retains historically significant features. They are continuing to find creative ways to ensure that the project grows sustainably and develops the skills of people in the local community. For example, The Source has teamed up with language schools to offer foreign students the chance to practice their English and master BMX riding at the same time.

The brothers are also developing local BMX talent through a coaching programme with the University of Brighton; and further investment from the Coastal Community Fund will enable them to start an Olympic-standard BMX coaching programme.

BMX rider practises his skills at Source Park, Hastings
BMX rider practises his skills at Source Park, Hastings © Source Park

Outcomes

Source Park opened in March 2016 and is now being called the world’s largest underground skate park. Visitors can enjoy state-of-the-art facilities amid the splendour of original features including mosaic pillars, brass handrails and the original steam engine pump. In September 2016, the park hosted the Battle of Hastings BMX competition, attracting some of the best BMX riders from around the world. Since it opened, it is estimated that more than 70,000 people have visited the park, which has space for 600 spectators. The project has generated 30 permanent jobs in an area with high unemployment, and the brothers have plans to further diversify the building.

White Rock Baths, Hastings
White Rock Baths, Hastings

Why this category?

Rich and Marc Moore came to the rescue of a derelict building that local authorities did not know what to do with and have brought it, literally, up to speed. Their solution has been as varied as it has been visionary - they have turned their passion for BMX into an international business that has remained connected to the grassroots sport in their home town.

Today, Source Park is an all-year amenity that promotes a growing sport and is helping to establish Hastings as a world centre of BMX riding. The project has stimulated regeneration of the White Rock area and contributed to its growing appeal as a hub for young people. What was once a disused Victorian building that reflected the faded glory of a declining seaside town, has become a vibrant new space that is helping to put Hastings back on the map.

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