1 September 2012
Inside Line (Issue 5 p.34)

The revolution on roller skates – CHΒ£AP SKATE, Glasgow Roller Derby.

It is quite remarkable just how quickly roller derby has spread all over the UK in just six short years. From the first four pioneering leagues founded in 2006-7 – London Rollergirls, Birmingham Blitz Dames, London Rockin’ Rollers and Glasgow Roller Girls – to now, when, according to UKRDA, there are more than 90 leagues all over the country.

History is being made! But so quickly, it seems, that there has been little time to reflect on or record these achievements. There has, until now, been no national infrastructure for ensuring that the energy, talent and sheer hard work of the thousands of skaters who have enabled this revolution to take place, is properly documented, celebrated or shared with others beyond the sport.

That is until now! This year marks the launch of the ‘National Museum of Roller Derby‘ (NMRD) project at Glasgow Women’s Library. As a brand new collection housed within the library, the NMRD will be the UK’s first permanent public archive of ephemera and memorabilia relating to the sport.

I was invited to develop a new project for the library as part of their 20th anniversary celebrations and came up with the idea for the new museum. On 14 June 2012, Mistress Malicious, the co-founder of Glasgow Roller Girls, cut the red tape at a special ceremony at the library to officially launch the project.

It aims to bring together the all inspiring “by the skaters, for the skaters” principles of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, with Glasgow Women’s Library’s founding ethos of ‘collective ownership’, in order to build up a shared collection of materials – bout programmes, photos, press cuttings and much more – which the UK’s whole roller derby community can be proud of.

During the museum’s first year, it plans to work closely with the Glasgow Roller Derby league and the UK Roller Derby Association to make connections with leagues all over the country. Offering a safe place in an accredited museum environment where materials relating to their different histories can be preserved for posterity.

22 September 2012 sees the launch of The Revolution on Roller Skates – the first public exhibition at the library of materials donated to the new museum’s collection. Curated by members of Glasgow Roller Derby and Auld Reekie Roller Girls – Cara Viola, Maulin’ Rouge and Bint Imperial – the exhibition will offer an insight into these fast-and-furious first years of Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby in the UK.

This will be the first of many exhibitions and events at the library and at other venues around the country over the next few years.

To get involved please visit www.nmrd.org.uk

Ellie Harrison