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Birmingham: concrete city, bye bye

Concrete City. Close of article about skateboarding in Birmingham in 1991The picture at the bottom right has a poignant grimness to it. That really does sum up the idea of skaters making use of the spaces that everyone else would shun. It may look oppressive but we really had a great day there. So much stuff. I have a great fondness for that picture.
I wish we had done more in Birmingham.

I’ve also just discovered that the file still contains the notes which had been made to help us identify the skaters for captions. They were inadequate — it’s taken 16 years to put names to some of these faces.

We circled on, back up towards the Central Library for a final step session, and then everyone split up into smaller groups and headed back to different parts of the city. We’d only scratched the surface of Birmingham. We’d only been to a few of the spots in the central area and there are plenty of other little spots dotted around the middle of town. It’s an ideal skate city — good spots in a compact area, with a good sprinkling of banks, handrails and the like in the surrounding suburbs.
Like most large cities, Birmingham has so much skate stuff that it can support a whole crowd of rad street skaters who you never really get to see outside of their own area. There were so many there on that day that we could never remember who they all are, but here are some names. Our thanks to Benny, Wickhamb, Christian, Stephen Powers, Rich, Philip Hanks, Michael Fallon, Simon Carter, Sprog, Tim Jones and everyone else for showing us a rad insight into a rad city.

NAMES:
Benny: Grey New Deal top, grey shorts, UCLA hat
Wickhamb: Poor House long sleeve, grey trousers, Converse boots black Stussy hat
Wizzer: Yellow top, grey trousers
Christian: Black Vision top grey thtrash hat beige trousers, green board
Black New Deal hat blu blind top, Vison shoes, Stephen Powers
Richard: Brown Vision street wear top, grey trousers, green hat
Brown top grey trousers, Rich
Visin boots, hooded top, green new deal hat, Philip Hanks
Grey//wht G&S top, grey hat, black trous, Convers: Michael Fallon
Tim Jones: purpl stsu hat, black thunder ls t, glasses.
Strtw cap, deathbo hooded sweat red; Sprog

Issue 96 May 1991 &Local Scenes timlb 19 Aug 2007 1 Comment

Steps and bins: furniture for skaters to make the streets home

Litterbins and steps make Birmingham for skatersI’ve just realised that the top pictures of Whizzer are a sequence. Apologies. I should have stitched the two pages together. Once again Egan is much in evidence.

It’s not like these were all people who normally skated together: different groups from different parts of Birmingham were all sessioning the same place on this rare day. The energy level was boosted to astonishing levels. The only draw-back was the trouble deciding where to go next.
The result was a sweeping arc through the underside of the Birmingham’s notorious inner-ring road. In case you’ve never been there (or heard about it: this place is famous in its awfulness), you should know that the middle of Birmingham is dominated by the motor car. Fly-overs and elevated dual carriageways rule. Pedestrians are supposed to scurry around in underpasses — do they, heck. Yep: there’s a whole underworld there for skaters. It looks grim: the concrete’s well past its sell-by date and everywhere is covered in a layer of dirt, but you can cruise from spot to spot with absolutely zero trouble.
What do you want? Steps? Freestanding curbs? Down-hill car park curbs? Tons of them, all over the place. The curb in the car park in Moor Street was the best. What went on there is the kind of stuff you’ll only see in videos. Still pictures don’t do it justice. That rad, that fast, and that stylish — the use of curbs is an art in which Birmingham’s skaters are particularly well versed.

Issue 96 May 1991 &Local Scenes timlb 12 Aug 2007 No Comments

Moor Street Car Park Birmingham

Birmingham Moor Street Car Park Skating 1991 style“Three hearty young lads give the Moor Street Car Park their very best.”
I always thought that NCP should sponsor a “King of the Car Parks” series. But I doubt if they would have seen things the same way. In the grim damp cities of winter, car parks provided one of the few indoor places to skate. That curb looks well marked by careless hubcaps. Oh yes.
Top left is Jagger, top right = Whizzer and Peter Egan is bottom right.

Issue 96 May 1991 &Local Scenes timlb 05 Aug 2007 No Comments

Birmingham Days Gets Going

Egan and Powers skate Birmingham streets from 1991 Rad skateboard MagazineNow we get down to some words, at last. In this case I can’t be quite sure who wrote them. Probably me, but I’m not quite sure. The theme of ‘space left over’ by the planners is one of my pet themes, but “you get the feeling that you’d be mugged by the environment before the human villains got to you” reads more like Gavin. The captions certainly look like Gavin’s work — but they would have been done separately, and often in desperate rush by anyone who could be press-ganged into doing it.

Prince Charles is probably bumming and so are the skaters: they have enclosed part of Birmingham’s Central Library Square and built a poncy modern shopping precinct. Whether the architecture fits in with the Victorian surroundings is debatable, but there’s no question about the skate effect: that area is wrecked. Continue Reading »

Issue 96 May 1991 &Local Scenes timlb 22 Jul 2007 No Comments