Trawler Tells a Tale

There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke. However, there aren’t as many who write books about skateboarding, adding to the already noble crafts of painter and photographer the duties of the historian. We asked Mark Lawer, better known as Trawler, to tell us a bit about his process and his book Snakes and Moguls, which has recently been updated and reissued. This is what he had to say

Well how did I become a skateboarding book writer you ask me?

This is hard to answer but I do believe everybody has got a book in them, about something they are passionate about and have a lot of knowledge about, or something that has been part of their life since they can remember. For me it’s skateboarding. Nobody else was going to write this book and our British history needed telling for everybody to remember, look back on and show their families. Show your kids and say this is how we used to do it. The skateparks were not as good as the modern ones but the fun factor and friendships we forged were the golden part of the seventies.

  • More About Mark Lawer "Trawler"
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I am not a real writer, I am a painter and decorator but I did write for a UK skateboard magazine called Skateboard! for 3 or 4 years from 1988 to 1991. I have also written for Sidewalk Surfer mag and various biker magazines about my chopper motorcycles.

In 2016 I started this book and finished it in 6 months. A lot of old friends got in contact via social media and helped and wrote memories of their local park. They gave me old photos to scan and trusted me to receive them in the post and send them back. A lot of these photos were the ones their dads took when they were driving them to the parks and waiting around for hours, so the old Kodak instamatic quality was variable. That was the beauty of it, back then we just skated and had fun, we didn’t self document everything like kids do today. I had some professional input and it was so cool that pro surf photographer Alex Williams, 70’s skateboard pro Ben Liddell, Trevor Hickey from the Home Counties and top professional northern photographer Darren Burdell gave me their amazing photos for free. It wouldn’t ‘ve worked without their generosity.

The book is a concise scrapbook of most of the short lived paying skatepark businesses that popped up from 1977 to 1980 and were soon gone again because of a downturn in participation and an upturn in insurance costs that killed the parks off. It covers 35 parks from Watergate and Holywell Bay’s in Cornwall through the country, London, Wales, the Midlands and the North ending with Livingston in Scotland where skatepark builders finally started to get it right in the early 80’s. I also included pictures of all the ability level badges and stickers and original magazine adverts that accompanied the skateparks.

It was a joy to do, I met a lot of old friends on the road and did some fun interviews and great reunions with people that I consider my long term friends for life. The skateboarding community is, was and always will be brilliant.

I guess the book is a small success. I have had it reprinted in small numbers and self published it all the way through. Currently it is back by popular demand with 16 extra pages and hardback with gold leaf headings!

This is my second book of four. I really have got the bug when it comes to documenting skateboarding. Now that I have recently learned how to take skateboard photos there is no way of stopping me.

My books are available from


Header picture: Trawler doing a backside tail tap, courtesy of Paul Parsons

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