Skateboarding History in Leeds

Railways, trams, buses, etc.
jonleeds
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Postby jonleeds » Thu 08 Dec, 2011 4:55 am

Yes Barfly, I skated from about 1986 until the early 1990s. We used to skate Leeds on a Sunday - this was in the days before shopping on Sunday was allowed so we'd have the city centre all to ourselves. The university was a favorite - yes because of the concrete banks, they were even mentioned in the skateboarding magazines of the time as one of Leeds's best skate spots.

Outside the Pig and Whistle was good as there were lots of benches and handrails, plus is connected with the universities via a series of subways that were great when it was raining as you could do some wicked wheel-slides on the wet tiles. Then there was the area around the Lloyds bank steps on Park Row. I remember Snoz cos even back then he was older than everyone. I heard that he had a hand in designing the indoor skateboard park in Hunslet called 'The Works' as its located in the old railway carriage works.

I remember meeting up with other skaters from all over Leeds on a Sunday and going round as a big group of about 15-20 of us and taking over an area until some security or police moved us on. To begin with we had to buy our skateboards / parts from the old Watson & Cairns bicycle shop at the bottom of Briggate as the only other skateboards you could get in Leeds were these complete skateboards that cost about £30-40 from most sports shops, but they were garbage.

The first proper skateboard I got in 1988 from Split Skates in Manchester, I guess you'll have gone there too if you were going to Manchester. Well going to Split Skates was like a rite of passage for any skateboarders from the North of England around that time. To anyone who doesnt know, Split Skates was like an enormous skateboard store in Manchester, a little on the edge of the city centre and occupying a basement of an old building, but it was a proper mecca for skateboarders and probably the best specialist skateboard store in the north.

One section of the store sold skateboarding clothing, mostly hooded sweatshirts / baggy pants / Vans + Airwalk trainers etc The rest of the store was literally wall to wall skateboard decks and huge glass counters full of all the other goodies - wheels / trucks / accessories etc. Most of the stuff was imported straight from America and the only other way you could get it was by mail order.

Split Skates used to get packed on a weekend when we would go there and they would regularly have pro-skaters visiting. I cant remember how many times we went on the trans-pennine express trains, I remember it was £2.50 return! But it was great to visit another city and meet skaters from all over the UK.

Eventually Leeds got its own skateboard shop, there was Buffalo Skates that was only open for a short while up near the top end of New Briggate, and the Air opened in the newly renovated Corn Exchange and while it was open for a few years it was no Split Skates. There have been a few other places open / close since - Exit, also in the Corn Exchange, and Route One, that was at the bottom of Briggate, now also gone.

The only place I know in Leeds that sells skateboard equipment now is Welcome which is in the basement of Crash records. Its a sad situation that the council is still spending hundreds of thousands investing in skate parks even though the sport seems to be in decline again....
Have your fun when you're alive - you won't get nothing when you die... have a good time all the time! - Chumbawumba!

And no matter how things end, you should always keep in touch with your friends - Dave Gedge
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BarFly
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Postby BarFly » Thu 08 Dec, 2011 3:36 pm

It sounds like we've probably met then jon, though I think I'm a few years younger than you so I'll have been one of the kids starting out. I used to hang around with a guy called Greenie and a bunch of lads from Wakefield most lf the time.
I only got to Split Skates once and was blown away -- I got most of my stuff from Air though I recall the name Buffalo but not where it was. Was that the one near Vicar lane somewhere?
I know my teenage self would be very annoyed knowing hat there are now the skateparks that we all wanted so much now we're all gone. I suppose it just takes decades for councils to recognise things and, sadly, skateboarding is somethi g that seems to be either an alternative lifestyle or a fad so there aren't always that many people doing it.
Did you ever get to Forster Square when it was first closed, or is tha a little after your time?    
jonleeds
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Postby jonleeds » Thu 08 Dec, 2011 10:43 pm

Yes im sure we would have met at some point in the past Barfly, there werent that many genuine skateboarders in Leeds around that time. When it started becoming a bit of a craze in the late 80s i remember every kid at school getting one of these crappy 'Turbo II' complete skateboards from the market, the awful ones with the solid plastic wheels, deck with no kicktail or concave and covered in plastic - tailsaver, noseguard, truck savers, hand rails and even one of those weird 'lappers' that helped you mount a kerb.

These kids used to just ride down the hills sat on their arses, 'bum-boarding' we used to call it - they did it at Morley's Scatcherd Park for about a year and every evening and weekend there would be dozens of kids racing down the paths from the top of the park right to the bottom. I remember in Morley, at my high school there was only myself and around 8 other lads who seriously got into skating and bought proper decks and learned to skate properly.

Buffalo Skates was only open for about a year and it was upstairs in a little building right at the top of New Briggate, kinda opposite The Wren. It was the only place in Leeds where you could buy skateboard gear apart from Watson & Cairns bike shop, but their stock was limited.

I never went to Forster Square, thats in Bradford isnt it? We used to go to Wakefield and once got mugged by the 'Under-5's'!!! Also there was an indoor skatepark over at York called Scoffs that was pretty good. Then later on Rehab opened over in Wakey so we went there for a bit but that was when I had started going out drinking and seeing girls - the downfall of many a young lad, heh heh heh!
Have your fun when you're alive - you won't get nothing when you die... have a good time all the time! - Chumbawumba!

And no matter how things end, you should always keep in touch with your friends - Dave Gedge
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BarFly
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Postby BarFly » Thu 08 Dec, 2011 11:04 pm

Ah, think I remember Buffallo now. Then there was another one somewhere on Vicar Lane or thereabouts too. It was upstairs and reminded me of a record shop more than a skate shop.
Yes, Forster Square in Bradford was a bit of a hang out spot for skaters when it was closed but still easily accesible though more for the fact it was covered and out of the way than any features that could be used.
I started with the cheapos but was soon on to an SMA deck, Independant trucks, NTN bearing and the rest...
Now I thnk about it there was somewhere near the market in the Merrian Centre we used to try to go to too, but we had to be careful of there being too many refuse guys around. Of course the Merrian Centre itself was fun to skate through but almost always incurred the wrath lf The Fat Controller.
    

jonleeds
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Postby jonleeds » Fri 09 Dec, 2011 11:22 pm

Yeah, quite a few times on Sunday we would skate through the deserted Merrion Centre and get chased by the security guards. Also my friends and I were once paid by an advertising company to take part in a promotional film they were making for Sony. We had to ride our skateboards along Albion Place (when it was still a street) and do tricks (or 'skateboard stunts' as I remember the director saying!) behind an American car they'd hired for the day as we were meant to be in the USA for some reason, we also had to each be wearing Sony Walkmans, the kind with the spongy stereo headphones. We were each paid £25 which wasnt bad for a few hours dossing about on a Sunday morning.
Have your fun when you're alive - you won't get nothing when you die... have a good time all the time! - Chumbawumba!

And no matter how things end, you should always keep in touch with your friends - Dave Gedge
Truckstop
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Re: Skateboarding History in Leeds

Postby Truckstop » Sat 18 Nov, 2017 3:02 am

:D I was one of the first skaters in Yorkshire 40 years ago ,
I started work at centresports and the. Started truckstop
We skated all the time at the pig until I came over to Skate in california in 1981
Keg
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Re: Skateboarding History in Leeds

Postby Keg » Mon 18 Dec, 2017 4:58 pm

I lived in Cookridge in the 1970s and myself and a mate used to skate at Holt Park. There was also a sports shop in the precinct there run by a jock but he also sold skateboard kit, mag wheels, bearings and trucks.
Keg

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