Passing by Somerset Skate Park and watching a skateboarder in action, I was reminded of a time when skateboards first made an appearance in Singapore some three and a half decades or so in early 1976. Then, there were no skate parks catering to skateboarders to speak of and many would take to footpaths and even the streets. This was until a ban was imposed on skateboarding in public places including parks and void decks in May 1978 when I was in Secondary 2 – with the police warning that they would not hesitate to prosecute anyone caught as skateboarding was thought to be not just a nuisance, but also a dangerous activity. With a rink in Sentosa which had been popular with skateboarders (it was also possible to rent skateboards there) deciding to also close their doors to skateboarders not long after that, many skateboarders had to turn to secluded spots. One such spot was right at the top of Fort Canning Hill – there was actually a underused roller skating rink built in the clearing by Fort Gate which did become quite popular with skateboarders.
Over time, skateboarding did start to gain acceptance as a pursuit with several community centres offering courses, with a even a display of it during Chingay in 1989. There are today several skate parks to skateboard in including the one at Somerset which was opened in 2006.