The Where? guide is an example of something which seemed emphemeral at the time (a list of skateboard street spots, for Heaven’s sake) and likely to fade away forever apart from a lingering life in a few fading copies of an old magazine. The content had been built up over many years of involvement in skateboarding, starting in 1978, and had moved from system to system. It began on paper, but soon moved to a succession of computer formats. This post was on 5.25″ DOS floppies. Later it would move to Mac format for a while. And there it might have ended.
In fact this information moved online in 1994, turned into Knowhere and took on a new and much bigger life. It burst into a new, unexpected, form and has carried on growing ever since. Far from decaying when I had no time to maintain it and migrate it from format to format, the Knowhere guide moved into an era where the maintenance could become communal and (not forgetting the loving state51 labour) automated.
For me there are parallels between this and what’s happening now with pictures grabbed on telephones and uploaded onto systems like Flickr and what happened (getting back to skateboarding) with the launch of cheap camcorders (think H Street) after the initial ‘traditional media’ steps in the birth of skateboard videos.
Enough of that! Back to the guide… This edition included a letter on the subject of Canvey Island (included to encourage more updates as well as for the information) as well as the more normal listings:
Canvey Island mini-ramp is total crap!! The one you mention in ‘Where?’ leaves out some important facts that I think you may be interested in including. The first is that the metal surface has no ply underneath. This means big noise! The second is that the ramp is around 5 1/2 feet high but has trannies that nearly go to vert! Thirdly, the coping sticks out a mile. Finally it’s a great hang-out for casuals and big headed tossers who think they are pros because they can drop in. It also takes ages to dry.
Even though that ramp is a pile of shit, there is the Gunney which is rad if there’s no rubbish, so still include it in ‘Where?’. There are also banks here and there, so keep an eye out. There’s also a secret mini in Southend and maybe another soon. I think there’s a half-pipe as well, but I’m not sure.
? [P] MINI Near Quantock Gateway Inn off Quantock Road 5′ transitions, 1′ vert, 12′ flat. Width uncertain, and vert statistic a matter for speculation in the office. Go to the orchard at the back of the pub and seek out Jamie Mason or Butch (Adrian). Stu
? ! MINI Various A pool allocated to skaters by the council. Shouldn’t be too hard to track down, but is it a paddling pool, swimming pool, transitioned or what say the Buck House fountain skaters? Also various street spots. Stu
? ? RAMP Maiden Castle Road (last right out of Dorchester on Weymouth Rd) 20′ wide _ 12′ of it 6′ high, 8′ of it 8′ high, 8′ transitions, 12’of flat, escalator on one side. All metal built courtesy of Dorchester Council, anonymous benefactor, Mark Noble of Invert mag and the building team.
++ ! STRT BANK HRAL Lots of places. Update: transitioned flowerbed banks at Pavilion causing confusion: they’re always skateable, but there’s no car park near them. Railway Station: steep brick banks. Municipal Offices car park. Banks, evenings only. Wooden handrails off esplanade onto the beach.
? [P] RAMP In front of pumping station, near town centre. 6′ high, 8′ transition, 8′ (4′ wide) extension (?), 16′ wide, 12′ flat. No charge, always open, skaters and bikers are welcome. Chris Hebbern
++ ! STRT BANK CURB Various Tescos: rad banks everywhere in car park and near road in front. Simon Harris
+++ ~.067 MINI MET Go to Benfleet station, ask for swimming pool: it’s right behind. 6′ high, 24′ wide, metal surface, slightly gnarly lip. Big platforms, hardly any snaking. Fast. OR: This is a metal surface with no ply ramp so big noise. Small trans, so it nearly goes to vert. Coping sticks out a mile. Hang-out for casuals and tossers. Sez one who thinks the place is a pile of shit. Go to the Gunney, he recommends. Or look out for secret Southend minis. Max Ayres & Anon
? ! BANK ? The pool…
++ ! STRT BANK CURB Various Cinema: good wall for slides, grinds, more good crete. Swimming pool next door: small banks to fence. Bus station: small low banks, curbs, low walls. 45~.007 banks by new bus shelter with grindable lip. Health centre: curbs, wooden railing interesting. Large mellow slope with lip. Train station: 2 car parks with banks. St Mary’s school rad 45 degree ish banks all round. Meridian school, split level playground, benches. Gateways banks,wall curb Simon Harris
+++ [P] RAMP Pioneer Club, Harpenden Rd, next to Fire Station Mini/midi? ramp. Solid. Tuesday 7-9, Sunday 9-1, 2-5. Maybe Monday 8.30- 10.30, Friday 8-11pm. #2 per year plus 50p per session. Safety gear required. Phone St Albans (0727) 50741. Barbara Tanner
! STRT Various Mini in barn now a complete bust. Gateway car park local spot: freestanding curbs, concrete barrier 1 foot high, grindy, slidy. Market bank sometimes used. Couple of handrails around. Steps and benches’n’stuff at Civic Centre, all in same area. We’ll probably rebuild mini soon. Peter Fielder-Shaw
? [P] QUART Back of Lords skate shop in Parson Street, facing MS car park Quarter pipe with platform. Richard Sutton
?? ! STRT BANK HRAL Various Big brick banks opposite bus station. Lots of steps/ handrails at the old market (up the road first left). Brick blocks, steps, handrail at Assembly Rooms. Steep banks under bridge (watch for 30 foot drop into river) Also benches and other dossy things. Andrew Smart
??? [P] RAMP BANK Wyndham Park near St Wulfram’s Church 8 foot half-pipe, 14 feet wide. Recently resurfaced. Also bank to walls. 30p per session. Helmets and pads sometimes required… Is this the same as the Old Swimming Pool? Mark Chambers
+++ ! STRT BANK Various Thanks to all the people who write in about Leeds. But we get so much hassle every time we mention the Poly, the Uni, Dorman Square, Pig and Whistle, Lloyds Bank or the Art Gallery that we think it’s better not to list them.
+ Worth a visit if you’re passing.
++ Worth a visit if you’re in town.
+++ Worth a visit if you’re in the area.
++++ Worth a visit.
+++++ Definitely worth a visit.
~.066 Opening times, cost etc unknown
~.067 Free, unsupervised
! Not a designated skate place
[P] Private – check opening times and cost
£ Commercial – check opening times and cost
Use this list very carefully. Some of these places are far from hot. Use your head: check before making a long journey. Be very careful about places marked !: they aren’t proper skate places as such, people have just written in and said they’re good to skate. And be careful out there: some of the inner city sites may be a bit gnarly if you’re not used to that kind of thing.
If you know somewhere we should list, write and tell us. Tell us where it is, what it is and what you think of it. Don’t forget to include your name, address and telephone number so we can check the details
A DIFFERENT WARNING: This list has been compiled over the last ten years. Whilst the information contained in it is freely available to those prepared to invest the effort, the errors are the stuff of art. Some of them have been maturing for years. One day we’ll clean them up, but right now there’s more fun to be had. Use your head: if all you want to do is skate these places you won’t go wrong.
Within days St Albans was attracting visitors like Stinger
St Albans feels bigger than your average mini and the regulars mix in air as well as the familiar lip tricks
Aaron Probyn’s one of the new locals who’re already shredding the Pioneer ramp. (below) Rain does not stop play
This material was the original source for the Knowhere Guide to Britain where it lives on to this day.