Invoking a little sense of adventure for those unfamiliar with the spot, the occasion was open to anyone, providing they personally hit up the folks at Welcome for advice on finding dusty concrete gem beforehand.
‘The Spot’, as it is currently dubbed, is the latest in a long line of DIY builds tucked away within the arteries of the heart of the North. Leeds’ DIY efforts have been prolific over the years and showcased aplenty in all manner of print and online outlets, along with appearing in countless Yorkshire scene videos and wider productions (such as Albion) and inspiring two thirds of the Serious Sam Barrett ballad ‘Newbird, Needle and The Dustbowl’.
Harry Townend - frontside smith. Photo: Farran Golding
“I moved to Leeds in 2011 and one of the fucking reasons I moved here was because of Needleside," explains Death Skateboards rider, and recent addition to the Welcome shop team, Sam ‘Blinky’ Hutchinson.
“Needleside was Roz, Parffit, the LxBxP dudes. They’re still building now. They just built a little brick quarter over there. Roz is currently spraying it up with lacquer," adds Blinky, pointing to a two-feet-tall transition made of bricks which he was floating backside airs out of an hour earlier.
After seven years, and gaining a reputation of as one of the UK’s most well-known DIY spots, Needleside was demolished in 2016. However, towards the end of Needleside’s lifespan, another DIY build began to take shape on the outskirts of Headingley known by locals as ‘The Joint’.
“Liam [Matthews] from Eagulls built the first little wallride and then we ended up building more on that. Pat Godbert was a big contributor too. That was an older crew as well because I was still pretty young when that was being built," says Blinky.
“The Joint was our first little baby. That was there for three years - of building and skating it overall - but with two years of building. I remember as The Joint was getting knocked down me and Gary Giomarelli took loads of photos and tried to make a little project out of documenting it. The people who knocked down The Joint were gutted to knock it down. They were really cool because they saved loads of the stuff.
“Before it was fully bulldozed, Vince [Orr] and Gary G found The Dustbowl site. We all fucking hated that at first. The Dustbowl was our main spot for another three years, it got knocked down and within months we found this place which has been going for about a year and half now. The ground was shit at first. We’ve done more clearing up and sweeping than building," explains Blinky, amused that the amount of landscape gardening which goes into a DIY skate spot is probably overlooked.
Dean Greensmith - end to end ollie. Photo: Farran Golding
Obviously, a recurring theme here is the seemingly unpreventable demolition of DIY skate spots which raises the question of what keeps those involved from becoming disheartened at the loss of their efforts and motivated to simply start afresh elsewhere?
“I don’t know, that’s what’s funny about DIY, innit? I like to use the word… ephemeral," laughs Blinky. “With street skating – spots get jacked, they get fucked up, but what I like about DIY more than skating a park is that although it’s meant to be skated, you still have to adapt to it. I like skating something where any trick is a goal rather than being able to just do all your tricks. That’s pretty cool and DIY is great to just do your own thing and make something come to fruition."
Blinky - scooped backside ollie whilst the graft continues. Photo: Farran Golding
Josh Blasutto - frontside boardslide the CurryWurst. Photo: Farran Golding
Blinky adds that he isn’t fond of simply replicating terrain commonly found in skate parks and the first addition to this DIY reinforces the idea. “We built the sausage, the schnitzel, the currywurst first," he says, referring to The Spot’s lengthy escalating slappy curb. “There’s obviously stuff that ties everything together but what’s good about DIY is we can build stuff we don’t have. There’s not even a legit concrete bowl corner in Leeds," which might not be the case for much longer if things go to plan here…
Wakefield invader Josh Thornton nosepicks. Photo: Farran Golding
Blinky was hesitant to be the one speaking on behalf of ‘The Spot’ as it has been built by “a group of absolute legends who all deserve a real mention because I’m only one tiny faction." He says the input into all of Leeds’ DIY efforts has been a labour shared by ‘a very broad mix’ of people with backgrounds as career grafters and those who have simply learned through hands-on experience.
“When I was skating Newcastle as a young teenager, I went to the wasteland spot and helped the dudes there. I was stoked and I learned to built DIY from watching them. There has been some sick groups of kids down here. We’ll ask if they want to help and they’re just like, “Yeah!" I think it’s rad that kids want to help and hopefully one day they’ll go on to build their own spots."
DIY kingpin Lee Rozee - frontside rock. Photo: Farran Golding
Myles Rushforth shot from the bushes, pervert-style. Melon. Photo: Farran Golding
Questioned on his stance on the often controversial subject of people skating a DIY spot they haven’t physically or financially contributed to, Blinky says: “You can’t get too bugged out with that shit. The joy of DIY is that it’s anyone’s, it’s an equal project," with fellow RTWB cohort Jordan Kaye adding “It’s cool to just see other people skate something you’ve made."
Jordan Kaye - front blunt truck bash fakie. Photo: Farran Golding
“But it would be really nice that people contributed something as little exchange for coming to skate The Spot. We appreciate every bit of help," concludes Blinky, highlighting Welcome’s support of RWTB’s DIY projects: “They’ve always been the best, they give a shit and they help us put shit on. It’s our crew. Welcome’s the crew, Welcome’s the shop, Welcome’s the homies," he laughs.
So, if you’re ever keen to seek out The Spot, swing by Welcome for guidance and chuck a quid or two into their RWTB DIY fund for the courtesy because we’re sure construction for another addition to The Spot will be underway by the time you’re reading this!
Big shout outs to Welcome Skate Store and RWTB!
For coverage of earlier Leeds DIY builds mentioned here, check out the Needleside and Dustbowl tags for video and photos shot at earlier incarnations of the ever industrious RWTB crew's DIY projects across the city.