"Slab Square”, as we knew and loved it, began life in 1927 alongside the famous Council House building and lions. Throughout the later decades of the twentieth century, it became the central hub for the booming Nottingham skate scene, and weekends in the eighties and nineties would see skaters from all neighbouring cities travelling down for those legendary sessions. It wasn't until 2005 that the redevelopment transformed it into the flat, open space that exists today.
It's hard to say what the architect had in mind when they envisioned these sloping brick humps dotted around the side of Broadmarsh; unless, perhaps, they had some incredible foresight into the coming skateboard revolution. A quiet pocket away from the city centre, this was the spot for skateboarding, BMXing and graffiti artists from the mid seventies through to the early 2000s. Its demolition was on the cards for some years in the new millennium, until finally in 2009 the bricks were uprooted from their home with no obvious purpose. Today the space remains flat and unused, where passions and creative expression were once free to spill out.
A patch of disused land – the leftovers of the Boots complex from decades before – sat stagnating for many years before skaters happened upon it. Cement slopped when a thriving bunch of young skaters, taking their cues from the more seasoned DIYers, saw the chance to create their own skate obstacles and their own secret paradise. It became one of the best DIY skateparks in the country, and a tight-knit community came with it. But these things are so often temporary, and when the creations were demolished, the privately-owned wasteland was reclaimed once again to sit idly with promises of redevelopment.
As an addition to their original Derby store established in 1985, Rollersnakes opened in Nottingham and was the first shop to feature an indoor mini ramp, attracting some of skateboarding's biggest names from around the world including Eric Dressen and Mark Gonzales. The ramp also featured in one of the most influential and groundbreaking skate videos of all time, Blind's Video Days.
Run by local skate legends Rob Johnson and Scott Underdown, Forty Two revitalised the Nottingham scene when they opened in 2011. Since then, they’ve become the central hub for skating and the first port of call for visitors to our city. Constantly supporting the rise of new skaters, Forty Two often run events around the city, including the Sunday Circuit competitions which send skaters to a variety of skateparks around Nottinghamshire. Skateboarding is what they know and love.
When the Old Market Square was redeveloped, Nottingham lost that crucial central meeting point for skateboarders. Fortunately, a few years later, Sneinton Market was inadvertently redesigned as a perfect skate plaza. It quickly inherited the title as the go-to spot for skaters, and is a world-class spot attracting professional skaters from all over.
Non-Stop was the glue of Nottingham's skate scene for many years, and earned itself the title of longest-standing Notts shop in its time from 1988 – 2015. Robin and Ant held it down throughout most of those 27 years, and today the instantly recognisable arches of its St James's Street home look odd with no skateboards and clothing in the windows.
It can't be understated how important an indoor skatepark is in the winter. Flo was a much needed addition to Nottingham after many, many years without an indoor park or undercover spots for the rainy season. After a temporary closure in its first couple of years, it’s been run as a community, not-for-profit space since 2015, regularly hosting competitions and providing beginners’ lessons most weekends. After this year’s long, dry summer, its current status is under question again. We’re hoping it’s something that can be resolved, so our community can continue to thrive on it.
The only seventies skatepark in Nottingham was built inside a disused cinema building in 1978. Stories from locals painted a picture of a lump of concrete that was tough to skate on; it still lacked the design and build knowledge of those California skateparks of the same era, but nonetheless it was an indoor skatepark and probably a good thing for the scene back then. Due to the lack of photos or footage, Malibu Dogbowl remains something of an enigma to those who weren't there to experience it.
The tower blocks of the sixties – where ASDA stands today – were home to various community spaces in between, including the concrete “bowls” alongside the children's play park. Sessions throughout the seventies and eighties saw skaters utilising the banked concrete in their own ways, and occasionally dodging missiles hurled from above.