The top ten UK street plazas
Above photo: CJ
The UK is better known for its rough, crusty spots rather than Embarcadero style tech meccas, but amongst the cracked floors and cobblestone banks there are some plaza style gems which have raised some of the finest street shredders to grace these shores. OK, some of these plazas are adorned with cracked floors and cobblestone banks, but they have still gained legendary status as meeting points, lurking spots and incubators of local talent. Plazas can become focal points for an entire town or city's scene and so here's our ode to some of the best the UK has to offer both current and sadly demolished. Lets Get Plaza'd...
Lloyds Three, Bristol
Above photo: Korahn Gayle frontside no comply, by Leo Sharp
Undoubtedly one of the most iconic UK plaza spots; Lloyds in Bristol has been getting shredded for years, is a non-bust to the point of yearly comps being held, and has helped raise more than one skate-household name in its time.
Check out a compilation of Lloyds footage below from Tim Crawley, Louis Gane and George Nevin;
Sneinton Market, Nottingham
Above photo: Mark Stern frontside nosegrind, by CJ
Sneinton Market in Nottingham is another long-serving spot, with a choice of stairs, ledges or just smooth, slightly downhill flatground to keep pretty much any street skater happy.
The Playhouse Theatre, Leeds
Above photo: Tom Brown pop shove, by Leo Sharp
Apart from the famous stairs which you can see Tom Brown pop-shove'ing above, the outside of the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds also includes a selection of ledges and a quick footed ollie up/curb gap type job which has kept Yorkshire skaters and visitors alike busy for years.
Above photo: Mark Gonzales frontside pivot, by Andy Horsley
After the hard fought battle for the legendary Southbank to be kept safe from developers' prying hands, Long Live Southbank are going on the offensive and aiming to have the original layout of the Undercroft restored - keep an eye out for more details...
Milton Keynes Bus Shelter, Milton Keynes
Above photo: Leo Smith switch nosegrind, by CJ
Like Southbank, the Buszy Building's official redesignation as a skatepark (and recognition as a heritage site this year) has seen it safely placed out of the hands of Tesco's for the foreseeable future - good news for the next generation of ledge technicians!
Market Square, Nottingham
Above photo: Craig Smedley 360 flip, by Donovan
Three sets and benches, the four wheeled shangri-la of the chalk-kneed among us...the clip below starts off at the legendary and original Market Square in Nottingham and brings to mind the immortal words 'Don't ollie down what you can't ollie up'.
Forster Square, Bradford
Above photo: Dough McLaughlan backside air, photo by CJ
The least tech-welcoming of the plazas on this list, Forster Square's whippy quarters and 'teepee' volcanoes were pure Bradford crust and there was no spot quite like them. However while the teepees still stand, the whippy banks have been replaced with curved blocks, so the ledge skaters out there may find the spot of renewed interest. Those of you who appreciate a good street QP, myself included, will quietly weep in the piss-scented archways which line the spot...
Dave Tyson rock n rolls before the revamp. Photo by Paul Graham
Above photo: Joe Gavin nollie flip noseslide, by CJ
A legendary Manchester spot which seems to witness new lines found with every new Mancunian release that drops. Joe Gavin and Tony da Silva have a special relationship with the place, which can be seen below...
Bute Square, Cardiff
The above image and below clip, taken from Cardiff's Go Skateboarding Day at Bute Square, pretty much sum up how good a well located plaza spot can be for a scene.
The Crucible, Sheffield
Above photo: Neil Chester, by Horsley
Another classic spot, this one in Sheffield, with very little in the way of photo coverage. However a few mag photos did appear over the years, and Mark Baines' section in 'Through the Eyes of Ruby' does include a blindside fakie nosegrind shuv out which can be seen in moving action at 1:25 on the timeline below...
Above photo: Boo Johnson frontside flip, by CJ
Wednesfield Plaza, near Wolverhampton, is one of those spots that has you marveling at how it was built without skaters in some way in mind; proper Copenhagen style, except they actually encourage skateable architecture while this seems to be a happy accident!
Bristo Square, Edinburgh
Now demolished, Bristo Square played such an important part in the Edinburgh seen that we felt it warranted an inclusion here. Watch Fergus Wood's edit from its last days below...
The Paradise Forum/Central Library, Birmingham
Above image courtesy of When We Was Rad
Birmingham's famous Brutalist library/public space bred a whole generation of skaters, including some who would go on to play a major part in the UK industry (when the demolition plans got underway Vice spoke to Ideal manager Zippy and Supreme manager Jagger, both alumni of the spot).
Shell Centre, London
Above photo: Ben Jobe noseslide, by Wig Worland
Another sadly no longer skateable street gem, the Shell Centre got a ridiculous amount of coverage througout the 1990s and early 2000s. Remind yourself of how good it was with the Shell Centre-themed Jake's Crates, nostalgic skate hype!