Snowboard Factory Opens in the UK

That’s not a headline you’re likely to read everyday. But in an era when most of the major board brands from snow-covered countries are out-sourcing production to China, one plucky British company has decided to set up their very own factory right here in the UK.

Laying up board cores in the UK’s only (as far as we know) working snowboard factory.

Douk Snowboards (pronounced ‘duke’ as in Duke Nukem) is the brainchild of a guy called David Ombler and a group of his mates, all of whom had done seasons around the world, in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Apparently the crew were: “Unsatisfied with the quality of equipment been produced by the major manufacturers and the increasing prices they were charging.” Reading between the lines, we’re guessing this means they noticed a drop in the quality of some brands’ kit when they moved manufacturing to China.

The Douk crew keep every part of the operation in house, even cutting wood for their own cores.

With carpenters and furniture makers amongst them the guys realised they had some of the expertise they needed, and set about teaching themselves the rest. At the same time, they began sourcing and building all the machines necessary to make their own, full-blown Signal-style snowboard factory.

Now we know the UK scene has seen home-grown board brands before. There was the Manchester-based (and unfortunately short-lived) Contraband Snowboards, True Snowboards (spearheaded by engineering graduate Liza Brooks) and Baltic Bitch Boards, which launched last year. But this is the first time (to our knowledge) that anyone has built their own boards right here on British soil.

They shape their own bases by hand.

And with everything, “from design, engineering, core manufacturing from selected woods to printing/sublimation of graphics, assembly and the final clean-up & tune” done in their factory in the Midlands, it’s safe to say this is the first 100% British snowboard brand.

Of course, all this would mean absolute bugger all if the boards weren’t any good. But we received a sample one this morning in the office, and we have to say, the whole Whitelines crew was suitably impressed.

They also sublimate their own graphics.

The Douk ‘Duke’ (see what they’ve done there) is apparently a pretty high tech beast. A directional twin with a poplar and ash core, triaxial fibreglass and carbon V’s at the tip and tail for extra pop and a camber profile, the Duke sits in the same bracket as say the Burton Parkitect or the Ride Machete.

Not only that, it apparently retails at a very reasonable £320. Not bad for all that eh?

The build quality looks top-notch with a nice di-cut base, and the graphic (apparently designed by an artist called Harriett Harmer) has something of the Endeavor about it, which in our books is definitely a good thing.

Whitelines deputy editor Tristan with the finished board they sent to the office.

So overall, we’re pretty stoked on the first 100% British-made board we’ve seen. As it only just arrived we haven’t had a chance to actually ride it yet, but we’ll be taking it for a spin soon, and no doubt enjoying the flush of patriotic pride.

All they need now is for the government to start producing some of those “British-reared” stickers they wack on chickens…

It’s not just chicken, it’s British chicken.

UPDATE 5/6/13:

A couple of commenters have pointed out that Douk are not in fact the first to design AND build boards right here in the UK. In the late 1980’s, Acid Snow was founded in Scotland under the stewardship of the legendary Gus Gillard, who sadly passed away in 2005. Tristan (author of this piece) is a relative spring chicken so forgive him the oversight! In the meantime, anyone interested in the learning more about this old school trailblazer should check out Gus Gillard’s obituary from WL Issue 65 here. – Ed

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