When We Was Rad:
Skateboard History from UK Vintage Magazine

The shape of things to come: Opening of Slam City shop in Neal’s Yard

Ken Park, Latimer Road, advert for opening of Slam City in Neal's YardAt first I wondered if there was anything particular to say about this Slam City Skates advert, other than that it features Ken Park at the wonderful Latimer Road ramp, and that the un-credited photograph would almost certainly have been taken by Paul Sunman. Then I noticed that it listed the famous shop in Covent Garden as “opens September”. So this issue dates back to the days when that London skateboard institution was just a gleam in Sunman’s eye.

I can remember being astonished at the time by the thought of a skateboard shop in such an expensive location. It’s true that my own career had begun behind the counter of a skateboard shop opposite Harrods. In fact those premises must have been even more outrageously expensive: we had 4, or was it 5, floors complete with an indoors quarter pipe in the back, but only one floor was open to the public. But in 1988 that was 10 years ago. 10 years in which skateboarding had been so far underground that less than a handful of shops had been able to pay rent of any kind — all of them in much, much, much cheaper locations. And all of them keeping going only by selling things like BMX bikes, or rollerskates. Those were very different times. So a skateboard shop in the heart of one of London’s prime shopping areas seemed an outrageous thing to try.

History proved Slam City very right indeed. That shop defined skateboarding in London for decades to come. Its influence on the course of skateboarding in the UK outweighed any of its predecessors and certainly shaped the skateboard culture of the R.a.D Magazine generation. But at the time that this magazine was published, all that was yet to come. It still seemed an outrageous gamble, just like the survival of skateboarding itself.


3 responses to “The shape of things to come: Opening of Slam City shop in Neal’s Yard”

  1. I used to go to school in Notting Hill back around that time, and we’d go down to the original Slam in the basement of Rough Trade at lunchtime to ogle the decks. I remember going to the new shop for the first time and being amazed at how big it was, and also at that sling/hanging chair they had.

  2. Of course, then M Zone opened up, and they had a deck cut in half as the door handle, and trucks on the walls of the fitting rooms to hang things on…

  3. Can anyone help.
    I appeared in R.a.D some 18 years ago and am desperately trying to track down the copy to show my kids!!!
    The issue had an emptied out duck pond in Bishops Park (Fulham) on the cover, and featured similar places to skate inside. That was my manor and R.a.D phoned and told us they were coming, the photo of me is of a frontside Olli kick-flip up a bank with the sun shine coming from behind, shining through a statue. Caption says – Luke Colson kick-flips to order.
    I would kill for a copy, better still I can pay!!
    Help…. anyone?

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