There are currently as many UK skateboard brands as there have ever been, with a new company seemingly rising from nowhere at least once a month. Whether there are too many for the market to bear, or whether it is heartening to see smaller dudes hooked up and more isolated scenes have a light shone on them, is not a matter for this article, but it is certainly an interesting time to be involved in UK skateboarding.
Amidst this current era of seemingly endless choice when it comes to what wood rests under our feet, it is worth looking back to some of the board companies who have shaped our scene, hooked up the guys who deserved it, and generally smashed it over the years, before unfortunately sinking into the ruthless marketplace sea.
From Benjy Boards to Blueprint, Reaction to Superdead, here's part one of 'The Departed - UK board brands of yesteryear'. And, for those who've noticed some glaring omissions already, expect these to be addressed in part two coming very soon!
To start off with here's much missed UK brand The Harmony, who sprung from the depths of Essex in 2004 and lasted for ten years with a solid team and killer video output until eventually going under in 2014. While you can peruse their entire filmography in our ode to the brand, here's a taster in the form of Jak Pietryga's section from their incredible 2009 promo 'The River's Edge'.
Clown Skateboards were riding high for a time during the late 90s/early 2000s, due in no small part to a banging team - Chris Oliver, Mattias Nylen, Simon Skipp, Benny Fairfax, Bryan Jones and Mark Calipe offering up a box of ATV delights which you can open by pressing play on their one full length video, which we've kindly uploaded for you below... Also on an unrelated note and for those interested in the intersection of graffiti art and Fisher Price political opinions, their logo was created by a pre-fame Banksy.
Reaction survived for six years under the New Deal UK umbrella, being dissolved unceremoniously in 2004 but not before dropping one full length in the form of killer video 'Creation' in 2004. You can watch Neil Urwin's section from said video below, as well as hitting the relevant text to watch sections from Flynn Trotman, Leo and Jody Smith and Matt Fowler.
Crayon represented the West Country and South Wales from 2007 - 2013, also hooking up some rippers from other parts of the country - see their retrospective edit below featuring Korahn Gayle, Dan Wileman, Steve King, Matt Davies, Chris Gibbons, Chris Jones, Andy 'Evz' Evans, Welsh Tommy, James Coyle and Paul 'Barber' Cooper.
Dave Mackey's East Skateboards hooked up many a talented ripper including Josh Perrett, Ashley Skidmore, Ash Brown (RIP), Owain John, Welsh Tommy, Tony Da Silva and Korahn Gayle during their time as a company, with their 2006 video 'Vapors' leaving us wanting much, much more!
Superdead appeared in 2010, with a powerful team (see the below image) dropping regular slices of banging footage up until a couple of years ago. We've uploaded their original promo below, and can also highly recommend both the parks and street sections of their two part Basque Country tour video.
Benji Boards were one of the earliest UK-based board brands to emerge during the 1970s boom, of whom we don't have much info on, apart from the persistent rumour that Pink Floyd invested money into the brand. We do, however, have footage, so check out John Sablosky's section from their 1978 promo below -with the added nostalgia bonus of Harrow's gnarliest pit before it was filled in - and watch more from the promo here.
Heroin Skateboards founder Fos started Organic with the help of Slam City Skates somewhere around the millennium, with a crack squad consisting of Olly Todd, Toby Shuall (who created a lot of the graphics), Joel Curtis and Daniel “Snowy" Kinloch. In 2002 they would morph into Landscape, who are still going strong!
The obvious choice to finish off part one of this article - Dan Magee's behemoth amongst UK companies began in 1995, merged with Panic (more of which will be covered in part two) and, up until 2012, shone a light on some of the most talented skateboarders to grace these shores. In the process they created more timeless classics video-wise than we could cover here, so we'll stick with their incredible 1998 'Build and Destroy' promo - for more, check out our Ode to Blueprint.