There's more to skating in London than the South Bank's undercroft. Away from the tourists' cameras, there’s a unique network of parks to challenge you and some fantastic, friendly places to find the very latest and finest skating paraphernalia.
Expert London skaters Jamie Ross and Husayn Smart took time out from their work at Better Extreme, a health and fitness charity, to provide a guide to the best skateparks and shops in the capital.
Where to shop
Parlour is a fashionable fixture of the area’s skating community – ‘owned, run and renowned by skateboarders’ – and situated right next to one of east London’s best skateparks. Housed in one of Mile End skatepark’s neighbouring railway arches, with another store down the road in Hackney, Parlour offers both designer brands and one of only a handful of free indoor skating opportunities in the capital.
Arches 415-416, Burdett Road, E3 4HL. Find out more at parlourskatestore.co.uk.
This is one of London’s most well-known skating outlets. It's been a fixture of Covent Garden counterculture since 1988 and moved into a flash new shop on Endell Street in April 2015. With another branch in Bethnal Green, Slam City Skates now offers the best designer skating options to both east and west sides of the city. Their range covers everything you could need: from books and bags to boards and phone accessories.
37 Endell Street, WC2H 9EE. Find out more at slamcity.com.
Another historic outpost of skating culture in London, Slick Willies claims to be London’s oldest skate store. Based just a short distance from Hyde Park (itself the perfect spot for inline skaters), they’re open seven days a week and sell more or less everything: boards, scooters, skates and even Heelys. They pride themselves on being affable experts in all things wheeled and London-ish.
12 Gloucester Road, SW7 4RB. Find out more at slickwillies.co.uk.
Where to skate
Better Extreme is new in town, but it's already causing a stir on London’s skating scene. As the largest indoor skatepark in the city, Better Extreme offers something really different seven days a week. The layout has been designed to accommodate all forms of wheeled wizardry, built with expert care and precision; including a street zone, lots of ramps and an eight-foot keyhole-shaped bowl. Better Extreme is also home to an awesome climbing zone and soon-to-open trampoline park for those who fancy trying something a little different.
Mayesbrook Park, Lodge Avenue, RM8 2JR. Find out more at extreme.better.org.uk.
One of London’s oldest and most popular public parks, Victoria Park has long been a home for sports of all kinds. The skatepark itself is a relatively new addition, but is already hugely popular. It was designed and built by Wheelscape to offer London’s skaters something they couldn’t get anywhere else. As well as a large bowl with many a nifty line of approach to enjoy, there’s also a challenging cradle to tackle, which is one of only two in UK skateparks. Vicky Park is also close to Mile End skatepark. So if you feel like stretching your legs, take the Regent’s Canal footpath southbound for another treat only a ten-minute ride away.
Victoria Park Road, E3 5SN. Find out more at wheelscape.co.uk.
Uniquely located on a junction between Brixton and Stockwell Underground stations, Stockwell skatepark is difficult to miss and should not be overlooked. Widely regarded as the best skating experience in south London, it’s known fondly as ‘Brixton Beach’. The park first opened in 1978, during the initial skateboarding boom of the late '70s, meaning the design echoes some of the finest park layouts of the sport's US heyday. Resurfaced and expanded in 2008, Brixton Beach continues to attract skaters of all talents from across the city and beyond.
Stockwell Road, SW9 9TN. Find out more at friendsofstockwellskatepark.wordpress.com.