When I was going to school, one of the options for Wednesday afternoon "sporting" activities was to go to the Red Hill Skate Arena. Skating sounded like a good idea at the time but I soon found out that it was harder than it looked. While most of my class mates would whoosh past me (when I dared to step away from the learner's rail), I had fun just trying to stay on my feet.
Remembering these times, I went in search of the Red Hill Skate Arena to find out some more about its past and to see what it was like today. Here's what I found.
The History of the Site
The Skate Arena is located on the corner of Waterworks Road and Enoggera Terrace, just 4kms from the CBD. It was built in 1920 as the Red Hill Picture Pops Theatre. In 1964, it was converted to a sound lounge known as Teen City before becoming the Red Hill Skate Arena in 1965.
Photo Courtesy Gone by not forgotten facebook page
It was at this time that the Arena was filled with music, squeals, excitement and became a place where teenage romance and friendship was born. Boots in an assortment of sizes were hired "for a session" or the more experienced, cool and serious speed skaters brought their own. I marvelled at the beautiful moves of the dancing and figures skaters who would glide and spin around the rink and the crazy antics of the freestyle skaters who wobbled and tumbled to stay on their feel like me. With its odd structural design of the building, going downstairs to the toilet on skates was a challenge.
The building is registered on the Brisbane's heritage list for its cultural heritage significance.
The Burnt Out Ruins On Boxing Day 2002 just before 4am, sadly the skate arena fell victim to arson and the building was ablaze in a ball of smoke and fire. The next day twenty-three-year-old John Cameron Wright was charged with arson, break-and-enter and stealing. The fire resulted in the demise of this then much-loved local treasure.
Today only the charred remains of the Red Hill Skate Arena are left standing leaving it in derelict disrepair. Some charred skates have been seen laying inside.
A Graffiti Canvas
Graffiti at the entrance to the former skate arena
While the building is only a shell, it has become a canvas for graffiti artists including Travis Vinson whose large scale, vibrant piece features on the side of the building. Travis' work can be easily seen from Waterworks Road. Though not accessible due to the health risk and danger of the structure, the inside of the building is also covered in graffiti. So if you are visiting Red Hill, glide past the building, take in the public art and imagine the fun times that once encased this building.