SOME expressions take me back (as Paddy McAloon once sang). This week it was “trim trail,” two words that plugged me straight into the 1970s and traipsing around Somerset Forest in Northern Ireland. There is still photographic evidence of me hanging off bars wearing a peaked cap, denim jacket covered in zips and quite frankly inappropriate footwear.

The term came up in Curves and Concrete on Radio 3 last Sunday. Steve Urquhart’s sweet, savvy documentary was in essence about Livingston skatepark, but it also took in post-war art and architecture, new town idealism and public investment in the days before Thatcherism wiped all that away, all to a soundtrack of the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr and Herbie Hancock.

Urquhart’s uncle Iain designed the Livingston skate park when he was an employee of the Livingston Development Corporation. It opened in 1981, probably the first to be built in the UK with the input of skaters themselves. It has remained one of the most-loved skate parks in the world. “People come from all over the world to skateboard Livingston,” one of its current users noted. Tony Hawk, the only skateboarder many of us have heard of, is one of them.

The programme slid and flipped its way through the history of skate parks, tracing them back to an amoeba-shaped swimming pool design created in the 1930s by Finnish designer Alvar Aalto. That design travelled to California where droughts in the 1970s emptied the pools and left them ripe for discovery by skateboarders.

“So in effect Livingston is a backyard Californian swimming pool that has been transplanted and moved over to the sunny delights of Scotland,” pointed out Iain Borden, professor of architecture and urban culture at University College London and a skateboarder on and off for 40 odd years.

But this was a documentary that was as much about new towns and their disputed legacy. The documentary was very much onside with the new town ideal, its ambition, its willingness to experiment, its notion of the public good.

The Livi skatepark is a concrete (in every sense of the word) example of that.

Listen Out For: NatureBang, Radio 4, Tuesday, 9.30am. Emily Knight and Becky Ripley return with a new series that opens with an examination of magnetoreception. Warning: contains dog poo.