For the last year now, Revolution CT have been involved in efforts to try and bring the disused BMX track back into use. The track, which was once renowned as one of the finest BMX racetracks in the entire UK, has fallen into disrepair over the last twenty plus years. Soon after Revolution CT was formed, the discussions began. Comments such as “How great would it be to see the BMX track brought back into use?” and “Wouldn’t it be awesome for the kids of Nairn and the surrounding areas to have somewhere safe and fun to learn bike riding skills?” became commonplace. We knew then that we HAD to make this happen. And so the story begins…
The first step was to contact Nairn Common Good and find out if there was a hope of proceeding with our plans. Cllr Michael Green met with us on site and we talked through the possibilities. We also launched a Facebook page dedicated to the clean-up, which started gathering pace quickly! Very soon it became clear that other community groups in Nairn shared a common interest in improving this site at the Riverside and several other groups approached us. We were happy to work alongside anyone who shared the same goal and we met with various contacts along the way. Ultimately, it was Revolution CT who were left to drive the project alone however.
We set up an online survey and asked for feedback from as many people as we could approach through social media and by distributing the survey through the local schools. With the amount of interest generated, again we saw signs that the community really wanted this to happen.
Ian and I talked through various options with regards to the area. Would we focus efforts on bringing the BMX track back as a national standard track with racing in mind, or would we be more focused on providing a recreational facility that would appeal to a wider audience? If we went down the recreational route, should we use the existing facility or look to flatten the area and start again with a modern facility? With the amount of history surrounding this track that was initially built for the Nairn River Raiders somewhere around the early eighties, we had some tough decisions to make.
Ultimately, our goal was to have a facility that could be used by the largest demographic possible, from kids on balance bikes right through to aspiring racers in any genre of the sport. A big ask! We arranged a site visit from Tom Durham at Collective Trax, a dedicated track and trail construction company located in the south of Scotland that have completed some incredibly cool projects. Tom gave up his time to make the journey north and spent a whole day going through our options, assessing the site and giving us vast amounts of welcome advice on how we could proceed, what funding could be available and where we could find further information. Without that advice from Tom, we would probably still be scraping about, looking for answers. For all of Tom’s time so far, we are hugely grateful!
A public meeting was announced for all to come along and hear our plans, providing an opportunity for everyone to voice any objections or offer their assistance. Despite ample notice, the meeting had a small attendance. It still highlighted some important issues and reminded us that quality is more important than quantity! We came out of the meeting with a clear plan for progression. We would be raising funds to clear a portion of the track (1-2m wide) into a useable condition, which would help prove the demand for any further funding applications for a larger scale project.
As has proved to be the case frequently over the last twelve months, opportunities arise out of the blue… A new funding application process for a share of the ward discretionary budget for Nairn was announced – Nurturing Nairnshire. This allowed local community groups to apply for a share of the £25,000 that was made available, up to a maximum award of £2500 for an individual group. The application was prepared and submitted, then accepted for the next stage of the process, which was to go to a public vote on how the money would be spent.
On the 12th March, Ian and I spent the day at Nairn Community and Arts Centre along with 32 other groups; all hopeful of receiving some much needed funding. A four-minute slot is all each group was given, consisting of a two-minute pitch and two minutes to answer questions from the floor. It was an excellent event where everyone in attendance got to hear all about the multitude of different groups aspiring towards making the town a better place to live. Each and every group had a worthwhile cause and we knew competition was going to be fierce! Following the public vote, we found out on the day that our funding application was successful and we were awarded the maximum amount of £2500 towards our cause! Phenomenal. Another huge step forward!
Following this event, Frazer Breathet made contact with Ian and I. He advised that he had contacted some friends of his that were willing to donate their time and equipment to the cause. This was sounding too good to be true. What was more astonishing from this point is the speed that things came together. Local businessmen Willie Lean, Steven Barclay and Robert Craigie met with Fraze, Ian and myself down at the BMX track on 17th May to discuss the plans and assess just how much work would be required.
The date was then set for a week later! Unfortunately, I had been called away to work offshore so missed the work taking place. I was kept in the loop with regular updates on progress direct from Ian but also through the vast number of posts that were appearing all over Facebook as word was spreading of the works. So many people were involved on the day with Willie, Steven, Rob, Fraze and Ian being joined by Pete Scott to oversee the activities and offer advice on track shaping. Scott Hamilton and John More were also there to help shape the jumps.
At the end of the first day, the entire track (not just the planned 1-2m wide path initially planned) had been scraped clear of twenty years of weeds and growth, the jumps were re-shaped, a finishing surface was laid and the track was rolled with a heavy roller. Before the machines were even fully clear of the site there were groups of young riders queuing up, desperate to try out the new track. A huge amount of work was accomplished in one day, but the clean up was still far from over….
The following day brought more work with the track being rolled again to firm up the surface and help it ride better. Then it was time to get the strimmers out and get stuck into the surrounding areas. Nearly two days were spent strimming the area and cutting back any unsafe branches etc. Adding to the list of names mentioned above, Hamish Anderson, Stuart Thompson, Kenneth Webster, William Milne, Grant Darnley, Brendan Dougan and Ross Duncan all gave up their personal time to assist with the clean up operations.
So where are we now?…
It has taken a huge amount of hard work, perseverance and dedication, generosity in donations of time and equipment, approval and funding for the project and incredible community spirit…. WE HAVE DONE IT!
We’re not done yet though. We as a club and as an entire community have resurrected the old BMX track and have been successful in providing a facility that will hopefully be used by young and old for many years to come. Our short-term plans are to try and set up some picnic benches in the area for parents to relax while their kids play. We are also looking into the possibility of more bins to help keep the area clean. As for the longer term plans? Well, who knows what the future holds…
Look out for a re-opening day that will be announced soon. Plans are afoot but details still to be resolved.
I personally would like to say a HUGE, HUGE, thank you to everyone involved in the project. Special thanks to Ian for his support throughout the project from day one and also to Fraze Breathet, Willie Lean, Steven Barclay and Robert Craigie. Without you guys, this project would not have been completed to anything close to the standard that you have achieved, particularly in such a short space of time from getting ‘spades in the ground’. I will be eternally grateful on a personal level and also as spokesperson for Revolution CT. The comments circulating through social media would suggest that the entire community is as excited about the whole project as those who have been involved step by step.
So, CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU ALL so very much for all your hard work! Time to get out and ride!