Read and learn from the words of Phil ‘Hudu’ Charnley of the Bolehills old guard:
I think the first time I remember going up there was probably 83, maybe 84? Who knows – so many years invested on the hallowed ground that lies up that steep hill off Bolehills Road, Walkley. Sheffield City Council had built 20 ‘tracks in 20 parks! Imagine that now? They were all shite, but Bolehills got adopted by a club and riders who built on it, and the rest, as they say, is history.
With apologies to anyone or thing my addled 42 year old brain misses out – here is a bit of that history.
Back then the track was a tight twister with about 5 jumps with the start hill where everyone now gathers to pin the legendary car park straight. Think about heading off that backwards and the current starthill was a 180 berm. So many changes over so many years.
Way back then all BMX clubs had dodgy names Pirates, Buccaneers, etc – This was home of the Bolehill Bandits. Legends up on the hills back then were The Bartimote Brothers, The Barker Brothers, Will Longden and Ben White (the most talented riders ever out of the club?) and The Helders Brothers (one of whom is now bashing drums for the Arctic Monkeys. Incidentally the last time I saw him was backstage at a Festival where instead of banging on about fame and money like most rockstars he was talking about finally getting time out from touring to nail the back straight – Respect Matty)
The club churned out British, Euro and even World Champions over those years and was a big call on the circuit. They even did the first ever Pro Rider Club Sponsorship for yours truly, backing me on the circuit in return for coaching and repping. All good.
Roger Bartimote was the DADDY of the Hills, he was the main man behind the club, the track, the whole scene. His should be one of the statues we put up there one day.
Track was revamped 88, hill moved to where it is today – but the first generation of bmx had grown up and drifted out – found cars and girls and beers.
Early 90s and the place was growing over – about when there was a hardcore of probably 5 to 10 riders in South Yorks. About the time VHS stuff first started coming in from the States and we all saw trails for the first time. Big diggers up there where the Carve House of Death crew, led by George G-Sport French. Out Went Bandits and in came The Bolehills Dirt Society, later to evolve into the SDS. The place was littered with jumps, concrete transitions were built onto the lips Jumps like the feared KONG with transitions ripped from the jump box at Wakey Skatepark. Some of the best times in BMX went down around then for me, tight knit close sessions, good riders, new stuff happening all the time.
As the street scene took off the place saw less and less of those guys up there and late 90s I decided to give the place a bit of a revamp in the hope of stoking a new scene up. Started by clearing the grass off the track and nailing an old jump, then the next one, then the next one – it turned into an obsession and over a year of sometimes 14 hour-a-day digging the track started to come together. No idea how many hundreds of tonnes got shifted – but slowly new people would turn up and help out. Jonno Holloway and Si Fagg became regular diggers, Paddy Baker and the Taylors arrived on scene. One day we had a whip round for a JCB for the day and after about an hour this little figure rushes up to me demanding we stop wrecking the place. It was Roger Bartimote – hadn’t seen him for years but he was still protecting the place! He was chuffed to find out we were not the council ‘dozing his hard work! He was back and helping out again. legend! We grafted like hell and put on a race – about 200 people turned up! Curfew Soundsystem Rig showed up fresh from last nights rave, the sun shone and the King Of Dirt went off. The Bolehills was back.
The Sheffield Dirt Society was born – the first club to shed the old BuccaPirate Bandits type names, the first to be billed as a ‘Bicycle Supercross’ club (should have copywrited that one) and to welcome the new breed of MTB riders. First to have a modern Euro style ‘no-pedalling’ track.
So many sessions have gone down, so many digs, so many events, so many good riders pushing the envelope. DC Dan Clifford was the soul and digger and lover of the place after I moved over the border, and is missed up there now he is Stateside – but new passion always comes in and the crew up there are on it – ever progressing and changing stuff.
There ain’t enough words in the world to say what the place means to me – but if you’ve ever been up there on a dusty summers day with the carpark rammed and stereos blaring tunes and trains bowling down the back straight – you have felt it too.
Bolehills is coming up for 30 years, but Bolehills is Forever.
To everyone who ever lifted a spade, busted a move, grazed some skin, done the ‘Bolehills Stare’ and made stuff happen – way too many over the years – you know who you are – respect is yours.
Keep the Dream alive.