Bristol Girls Team

When the first UK National Championships was hosted at Crystal Palace in London (originally planned for July but delayed until August 10th, 1977 due to rain) there was no category for women and the female skaters from Bristol were not impressed.

In the Evening News special report that was printed in September 1977 it was noted that, “Among those who turned up then were four dishy ladies from the Emotion Bristol Skateboarding Centre store. The girls who all live in Bristol were former Bunny girl Lynne Shillingford, Janie Wilmot, Lizzie Melling and Helen Thomas. ‘People seem to think girls aren’t interested in skateboarding – but they’re completely wrong,’ said 21-year-old Helen, who lives in Victoria Square, Bristol.”

I’m glad whoever wrote the article didn’t sign their name because they deserve a punch in the head. They replied to Helen’s statement by writing by saying, “Well, we’d be interested to hear whether that’s the case. All we can say is that we didn’t see a great many girls around at Crystal Palace.” Based on a previous article featuring Londoner, Minh Duc Tran I know that there were girls hoping for a separate category and most likely would have shown up to compete if it had been offered.

The Bristol women decided to form a team and were even featured in an ad found from the November 1977 issue of Skateboard! magazine for Bristol Skateboard Centre (“more than just a skateboard shop”). The ad shared how they were selling unusual items like sailing boards, motor boards and portable ramps and  that “our girls’ team has brightened up the competition scene!”

Besides Helen, Lynne, Janie and Lizzie mentioned above, two more skaters were listed being Claire and Kate in an article called “Go West Young Man! Girls set hot pace in Bristol city,” contained within the Nationwide Skateboarding Special magazine in 1977. The article said that they formed a team over the summer, training in multi-storey car parks at night and then Ashton Court in the heart of Bristol. “There they ride the ramp – and a very stylish job they make of it. Janie (right) has been skateboarding for about four months. She’s 24 and used to be a lead singer in a rock band.”

Not long after these features came out the “Skate City Girls” in London created a team as reported on in January 1978 by Kate Mahony in her “Kate the Skate” column for the magazine Skateboard Scene, among many other young British women. The most revered UK skaters being Sheenagh Burdell and Sue Hazel who competed in the 70s and 80s, and continue to skate.

Thank you to Vintage Skateboard Magazines for sharing these magazines.

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