From ghetto, graffiti laden concrete bowls dating back to the 70's to fully equipped parks by some of the biggest brands in skating, the best skate parks in London are helping to push the skateboard scene forwards. With the recent amazing news that Southbank will remain a London institution and the opening of new House of Vans, we thought “what better time” to look at London’s best skate parks?!
Don't worry if you're not an experienced skater. These parks are open to everyone from beginners to total pros and it's a pretty welcoming scene - you won't get better if you don't practice so just dive in (but maybe with a helmet on).
On the extremely well informed advice of hard-core skater friends in the skate industry (Craig Scrivener, Senior Events Manager at Whitelines and Mike B from FBBB) - we checked out some of their recommended spots. Thanks guys, our knees are now thoroughly bruised, but we're happy!
So, I took my customised skateboard made for me by Mat at Work Hard Ride Nice (thanks Mat!) and had a go... It did all end in tears being the ameteur I am, so skip the end of the article if you're squeemish (another tip, don't skate if you're squeemish).
Southbank skate park
Photo credit: standard.co.uk
We’ve heard it labelled as the “beating heart” of London’s skateboarding scene on more than one occasion so where better to get this thing flowing than a genuinely old school skate park – Southbank.
The park made the news recently after the ‘Long Live Southbank’ campaign, backed by London’s very own Boris Johnson, came to a successful ending with the conclusion that it won’t be replaced with a £120 million redevelopment plan. The proposal of the park being moved down the Thames and replaced by a shopping centre sparked an eighteen month campaign.
Check out the film Rolling Through The Decades to learn more about the history of Southbank and why there was such uproar when Southbank threatened to close it.
Southbank has a unique feel after forty years of evolution and features; banks, stairs, ledges, is under cover and free! Long live Southbank! Hope you don't mind being watched whilst you skate as there's always a group of tourists peering over the railing. The more the merrier!
Address: Lambeth, London SE1 8XZ
Photo credit: creativereview.co.uk
Although in its very early days having opened August 2014, this is sure to be very popular with anybody into alternative arts, culture and music as well as skateboarders. This is London’s first indoor skate park and sits in the five Old Vic Tunnels under Waterloo Station. House of Vans is also (or soon will be) home to a bar, restaurant, cinema, gig venue, gallery space and studios. The park has bowls, a street area and a mini ramp.
We’re not sure how skating purists will feel about the place being as it’s so new, however it does offer indoor skateboarding in London for the first time, which has to be a plus point for the House of Vans!
Address: Arches 228 - 232 Station Approach Road, London
Telephone: 020 79221180
Harrow skate park
Photo credit: skateparkhunter.com
AKA ‘Solid Surf’, this park was built in the 1970s and is largely the same as the day it was built making it a genuine throwback to a golden generation of Skateboarding. Solid surf has often found itself swimming against the tide of the council (I’m so sorry!) so there are a few tweaks to the park here and there.
Great bowls and an old-school snake run are among the best bits about Harrow Skate Park. It also boasts a half pipe, four moguls, the peanut bowl and pool.
Address: Harrow on the Hill, harrow, Greater London HA3 5
Photo credit: sk8loc8.com
For a little bit of everything (including plushness!) Bay Sixty 6 is the choice. The park is undercover but the sides are exposed, meaning it’s not completely impervious to Britain’s sometimes tempestuous weather.
Previously known as PlayStation Skate Park before becoming sponsored by Xbox, Bay Sixty 6 was kitted out by Nike SB. Included in this park’s portfolio are; wall rides, rails, big hubbas, driveways, quarter pipes, flat banks, ledges and gaps.
Facilities are great here too, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that if you get caught short, want to keep your stuff safe or need some refuelling, you won't have to go far, you won't have to leave the park for that matter!
Not bad for £7!
Address: 65 Acklam Rd, London W10 5YU
Phone: 020 8969 4669
Photo credit: sk8loc8.com
Located in the eastern area of the park that it shares the same name with, Victoria Park can be a busy, vibrant skate park and is home to London’s first, and the UK’s second cradle. Perfect for the more extravagant skaters out there. It features two quarter pipes and grind poles as well as the cradle.
Photo credit: geograph.org.uk
Meanwhile Gardens in Westbourne Park is another throwback of a skate park and is one of the “Big Smoke's” oldest. This skate park is fun if you know what you’re doing and has much more of an urban feel than some of the previously mentioned parks. It features three interlocking bowls varying in size (deepening as you get further in), pump bumps, hips and extensions.
There are some pretty sketchy areas, made that way by time through wear and tear, and is better for the more accomplished skaters out there. Prepare yourself for some road rash and some serious respect as you attempt conquering Meanwhile!
Photo credit: skateboard.com.au
Located in Brixton, this skateboarding park has a couple of AKAs; Stockwell Sands and Brixton Beach, which we think makes it sound rather glamorous! Some people say the names derive from when the park was made up with red concrete making it beach-like to the eye. Other people say it's because of the chilled out attitude of the locals (we'd like to think it was that one!!!) it now has grey concrete.
Again, this is another of London’s oldest skate parks. It has rolling, lumpy bumpy concrete that flows nicely into dips and snake runs throughout.
Photo credit: hackneygazette.co.uk
Clissold skate park is located in in the community park of the same name and is perfect fun for skaters who love bowls. The park was forced to close recently after a number of acts of vandalism, but the skate and BMX communities came together to get it back to shape and rise above the vandals.
The park consists of two bowls. The larger bowl has wide bowled corners and three street hips while the second bowl is smaller in size with a long back wall and three bowled corners.
Hanging up our skateboards for the rest of the afternoon but, we came away with some great mementos and a few bruises..!
If we’ve missed a few tricks here on the London skateboard scene then please let us know in the comments below! We’re sure there are some hidden gems we’ve missed out, perhaps you want to keep it that way, if not let us know!