Skateboarding History in Leeds

Railways, trams, buses, etc.
jonleeds
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Postby jonleeds » Sun 27 Nov, 2011 11:35 pm

Well I know its only loosely transport related but I didnt know where to put it! I'm interested in what people can remember about skateboarding in Leeds from the 70s ( and earlier...?) onwards. I've been posting on this Middle Aged Shred forum which is for aging skateboarders like myself and we've been chatting about what places there were in the Leeds area that catered for skateboarders.

I know in the 70s when I was only a toddler there was a skateboard shop in the Merrion Centre called 'Truckstop', apparently it was part of an outdoors type shop called 'Centresports' and it was open for a few years. Also apparently in the late 70s there was an indoor skatepark at the old Armley 'wash house'? I only have a newspaper cutting about this, I have never seen it. Anyway if anyone has any memories of skateboarding in Leeds in the 70s / 80s etc I would be very interested to hear about it.

Cheers!

Johnny
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
Bruno
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Postby Bruno » Tue 29 Nov, 2011 7:04 pm

I was 14 years old in 1976 and looking back I would guess that 76 was the year that the skateboard craze struck (no disrespect to those who now, and for that matter then, made a proper sport of it, but it certainly was a craze at the time). I'd seen skateboards being used a year or two earlier when on holiday with my parents in the surfing resorts of Devon and Cornwall, from what I can remember they were home-made looking devices.

I had a skateboard but mine wasn't much more than a toy really, with a plastic deck and narrow wheels. However, I had a mate back then who was, to put it mildly, spoilt rotten; he got on the bandwagon with everything, from electric guitars to airguns. He had skateboards made of interchangeable parts, ie various sizes of deck, wide wheels and narrow wheels, grippy rubber wheels for slalom and harder ones for speed, trucks (axles) with a selection of rubber bushes of varying hardness to vary the ease with which the board would lean over, and so on.

Back then, the aim with skateboards was to go as fast as possible, unlike now, when falling off onto steps and other obstacles seems to be the main goal. Once or twice we attended organised races in Roundhay Park, both slalom and in straight lines, which were held on the steep stretch at the bottom of the road which runs down from the mansion to the lakeside cafe. Skateboarders would come flying (sometimes literally, not always in tandem with a skateboard) down the hill with only the cafe car park to stop in - it might have been a good idea to close the car park to cars during these events! There were quite a few skin-shredding crashes, I think the only stipulation at the time was that contestants had to wear a helmet and elbow pads.
The older I get, the better I was.
jonleeds
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Postby jonleeds » Thu 01 Dec, 2011 11:49 pm

Thanks for that Bruno, its always interesting to hear about other people experience of skateboarding especially from the really early days. Unfortunately skateboarding has suffered from the problem of been seen as a craze or fashion to be picked up or dropped at will by the general public.

Its a shame it hasnt gained the bona fide sport status that the likes of surfing / mountain biking / snowboarding etc has done. I mean Leeds city council over the past decade have spent millions building skateparks all around the metropolitan area from Hyde Park to Otley, Garforth and Micklefield.

The sad thing is that due to the status of skateboarding and it not being recognised as a 'proper' sport these places end up unused and neglected and many of them become places for non-skateboarding youngsters to hang around causing anti-social behaviour and actually intimidating and putting off the actual young people who might want to use the facilities for what they were designed for.

When I started skateboarding in the mid-80s there was literally nowhere in Leeds to skate other than the streets, myself and my skate crew built our own skateboard ramp from plans that were published in a skateboard magazine. We also used to travel to the old 1970s concrete skateparks that still existed then in places like Southport, Rhyl and Llandudno etc.

One strange experience we had concerned a rumour that somewhere amongst some fields on the outskirts of Wakefield lay buried one of these 1970s concrete skateparks. So equipped with shovels / brushes and dayrover bus / train tickets we travelled to the approximate location and spent several hours trampling through brambles and nettles around the Stanley Ferry area.

Sure enough we found the derelict remains of what had been Birkwood Skate Park and after quite a bit of excavating the farm waste that filled the concrete bowl we were able to spend quite a few school holidays skateboarding a concrete bowl for free, although the farmer who owned the land shoo'd us off a few times.

Anyway if anyone has any other skateboarding tales to tell I'd love to hear them, doesnt have to be specifically about the 1970s. Cheers!    
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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Brunel
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Postby Brunel » Sat 03 Dec, 2011 11:46 am


Leodian
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Postby Leodian » Sat 03 Dec, 2011 1:16 pm

Brunel wrote:
http://goo.gl/eZAzL


Hi Brunel.

On using that link I get a message, part of which states "Google.
403. That’s an error. Your client does not have permission to get URL...Forbidden That’s all we know."

A very long address was given after the URL but I have deleted that here because the preview of my post showed the address stretched the page far too wide. It also had a client IP address which I thought would be best not to reveal in case it was mine! I wonder if it is just a problem with my internet?
A rainbow is a ribbon that Nature puts on when she washes her hair.
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Brunel
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Postby Brunel » Sat 03 Dec, 2011 2:09 pm

My mistake, try this link.

http://goo.gl/I1KrJ
Leodian
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Postby Leodian » Sat 03 Dec, 2011 2:32 pm

Thanks Brunel. The link works fine now. Regular Smiley
A rainbow is a ribbon that Nature puts on when she washes her hair.
Leeds Hippo
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Postby Leeds Hippo » Sat 03 Dec, 2011 5:11 pm

Always found it a little strange to see "adults" on skate boards or even BMX bikes in Leeds town centre - the thought always occurs to me that the circus must be in town;-) - I'm such a Victorian!
    

jonleeds
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Postby jonleeds » Sat 03 Dec, 2011 9:57 pm

Yes its a sad thing that skateboarding has never seemed to mature as a sport and at times it is seen as been about as credible a pastime as playing with a yo-yo! However skateboarding has a rich an interesting history both in culture and the technology of skateboarding.

Its a lifestyle for some people, but because its always been a little bit of a sub-culture its never been truly accepted by the mainstream - so to the general public skateboards are still seen as toys to be used by children - despite the fact that most professional skateboarders are fully grown men - many of whom are over the age of 30.

I've had the same conversation about this on skateboarding forums; like why do we now have BMXing in the olympics, and snowboarding too which was derived largely from, but not including skateboarding?? Some skaters say they prefer skateboarding to remain more of an underground activity but this means it will never truly develop in the way these other sports have done. Its always at the mercy of fashion too and therefore its popularity rises and wanes over the years.

Nice one for the link to the Roundhay Park skateboard park info Brunel, I didnt know about that. Leeds's major outdoor skatepark is at Hyde Park corner where there are a series of concrete mini-ramps and some street skating furniture laid out on the old tennis courts.

However if they are going to invest in a facility at Roundhay park then I reckon they will want a truly modern concrete park - the likes of the Thornes Park installation in Wakefield which is one of the best skateboard parks in the north of England. That was created by a company called 'Gravity Skateparks' who design and create bespoke concrete skateparks of very high quality.

I hope this will encourage more people to accept skateboarding as a bona-fide sport and that new generations of skateboarders will be inspired by having access to such a place.    
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 » Sat 03 Dec, 2011 10:25 pm

I was a skateboarder back in the 90's and used to hang around the Uni (for some reason they had concrete quarter pipes against the buildings), the Pig and Whistle subway and a few other places I struggle to recall as well as trips to Pudsey, Wakefield and even shock-horror Manchester. There was also a ramp built on the hill near Wickes on the ring road and Mad Snozz built a pretty good bowl in the woods in Bramhope (near one of the tunnel air shafts I think).
For us it was a way of life as well as a pastime and everyone seemed to know everyone else.

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