Skate Nottingham's Skateboarding in the City

  • Skateboarding in the City

    Words and Photos: Jarrad Thomas.

    Nottingham is in the spotlight this year with the ‘Skateboarding in the City’ festival, which was made possible by a grant received from The National Lottery Community Fund. The aim of this festival is to help produce a positive outlook on skateboarding and the wider culture and community surrounding the sport, inspiring people to pick up a skateboard and learn.  It all came about after last year’s National Lottery-funded skate photography workshop, covered by Sidewalk (RIP) here.  Immediately after that workshop, Chris Lawton from Skate Nottingham was asked to join the ‘Skate Friendly Cities’ panel at the first Pushing Boarders conference at House of Vans London (with Pushing Boarders coming to Malmö this year), which gave him the opportunity to ask fellow panellist Gustav Eden how on earth they’d managed to get the ball rolling with their council to make Malmö as rad as it is. To which Gustav helpfully replied “you need a fucking big event.” 

    So that’s what the Skate Nottingham team set about trying to do with ‘Skateboarding in the City’, a multi-venue nine-day programme of events that tried to celebrate skateboarding as a culture as well as a sport, and a community that makes worldwide connections just like those boys from Magenta like to say. The increased popularity has definitely stirred the city and the founders of local social enterprise Skate Nottingham. Simon Bernacki and Chris Lawton organised heaps of events for the week including competitions and talks. The event’s remit is to try and spread the positivity with the community outside of skateboarding. 

    The week started off on Friday the 26th July, in the evening with an exhibition from a photography workshop which was held at the Photo Parlour, a community darkroom and studio with deep skate links. The event included photographers from Nottingham and people who took part in the workshop. Work from Neil Turner, Sidewalk legend Andrew Horsley, Document legend Stephen ‘Kingy’ King, Joe Walchester, Tom Quigley, Alice Ashley and of course, myself was on show for the public to see. 

    The 27th of July was the first skate event, at Flo skatepark, where Skate Nottingham organised a jam with prizes that were up for grabs, alongside Ellie and Maisie from Girl Skate Gang Notts baking cakes, spreading the stoke and collecting donations for Mind mental health charity. The day after was the Nottingham Open competition where first place in the bowl and street comps got a £200 prize. Jesse Thomas bagged first place in the bowl and Joe Hinson did the same in street.  This was all followed by “Who wants to be a melon air” pub quiz at the King Billy pub, the local skaters’ adopted home following sessions at Sneinton market.

    Also part of the programme, Skate Nottingham set up the ‘Radical Places’ talk session discussing how the skate environment can further the community. It was quite interesting to learn all the different scenarios people experience and go through on a regular basis. The way it sounded, skateboarding goes way deeper than just rolling around with friends trying to get good clips, it rolls off onto education and everyday family life, for some people skateboarding is all they have. The talks included Kelli from We Can Fly and Brent from the FAR Academy, which is a school providing alternative education post-16, inspired by skateboarding alongside Brent’s less positive experiences and insights on how traditional, mainstream education can fail too many young people.  It’s great to see someone not being willing to let kids fall out of society.

    Right in the thick of the talks (as well as laying down some of the best lines at Flo on the Saturday…  360 flip the pyramid, back noseblunt the quarter, frontside 270 ollie the hip… Viktor’s a beast) were a crew of skaters from Tampere, Finland - Mikko, Teemu, Vantte and Viktor. They are part of an organisation called ‘Kaarikoirat’ - the Ramp Dogs. Their original goal was to create skateparks and to give the skaters of their city somewhere to go skate through seven months of winter, but their project grew to become so much more than that: creating jobs, changing how their city viewed young people and the unemployed, providing space and facilities for other creative, cultural and DIY projects - basically becoming a regeneration movement with tattoos and heavy ramp skills. They work with their council’s unemployment office to give people experience in construction and other things involved with building skateparks. All this helping each other out is what drives the skate community onwards.  I have never not felt welcome at any skate event or anything where there is a large skate presence, but to be able to use your influence to help people make a living is true spirit.


    The next long anticipated event was the skate film night at the Old Angel microbrewery - formerly a legendary punk, hardcore and metal pub in Nottingham, now somewhere you can drink good beer and eat amazing veggie and vegan food, and still listen to really loud music. There were a few films being shown, including: Trent Side, an eerie documentary/drama from Charlie Delaney; Abkhazia, the amazing, award-winning documentary from Tampere’s Vantte Lindevall; and the Dishonest skate edit that the local crew have been working on for about 6 or 7 months. The energy inside that small packed room was electric cheering and banging on the floor as we saw our mates on the big screen, it was magic.


    Tuesday the 20th also signalled the start of the City Circuit skate filming competition, with crews rushing around the city trying to get clips in the rain, and doing so successfully. To inject some spice into the competition, and to demonstrate to Nottingham City Council that skateboarding can positively change underused spaces, the Ramp Supply Co. were on hand to bring some ramps to Sneinton market, but the rain had other ideas so we packed up and moved to under the Nottingham Forest football ground. The next day was a similar jam at Nottingham’s life sciences innovation campus, BioCity, with amazing obstacles constructed by the homie Bedir Bekar for Innoskate (borrowed from Long Live Southbank - nice one Stu!) plonked in front of the skaters for them to interpret, jump off and over, and win prizes from Supereight and DC Shoes. 

    After all the chaos it was time to see everyone's entries for the video comp. They were definitely entertaining to say the least. The winning team(s) won a trip to Malmö to take part in Skate Malmö Street 2019, which this year is taking place at the same time as Pushing Boarders - to be part of an even bigger scale international skate festival.  It was ace to see a variety of people's different edits and this competition was open to anyone with a team of 4 including the filmer. This was all supported by Nottingham’s premier independent skateshop, Forty Two Shop - somewhere that proves a good skateshop is everything from first and last sponsor to unofficial youth club, counselling service, and free kingpin and bushing repair consultancy.  Forty Two teamed up with Keen Distribution and Skate Cafe to ensure the week was furnished with amazing prizes.

    The best edits in my opinion were Nick Hanson (and his dog, Bella) with its funny light hearted edit based off Gummo. It was great to watch. The Dishonest video allso stuck out to me, I personally love the fisheye angles, and the skating was top notch with Myke Trowbridge with a no comply off a loading bay over a bin. Winners were selected by popular vote, with 3 edits finishing in a 3-way tie and, after a bit of wrangling and checking of diaries, a combined team of 5 will be repping Notts in Southern Sweden: Adam Gaucher, George Worthington, Mikey Gee, Ethan ‘Bubba’ Cornell and Conor Andrews.  Conor also won the prize for best overall male skateboarder, with Bubba taking the prize for best overall (and all switch!) line, Mikey getting the prize for best line at Sneinton Market, Gaucher clinching the All Terrain MVP prize, and George being rewarded for his comical slam on Bedir’s rainbow rail, complete with stupid sunglasses and a frothing bottle of beer. 

    Overall Chris and Simon did a great job keeping it all afloat and running smoothly, despite the rain. I just wish it had lasted longer than a week!