Nottingham is a large city in the UK’s North Midlands, with a compact city centre, so most of the skate spots, bars, shops and venues are within a short walk or skate from each other. With around 320,000 residents within the city, and more than 600,000 in the wider urban area, Nottingham is twice the size of Brighton or Coventry, and about the same size as Malmö in Sweden (a city which has become world famous for its successful use of skating in its development).
Nottingham is well known for its large number of bars and pubs, and also for its two large universities. Together, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent account for more than 60,000 students. The city is incredibly lively in term time and has one of the youngest population age profiles in the UK. Both universities draw in skateboarders from all over the world, with NTU’s strengths in the visual arts, fashion, broadcast media and architecture, and UoN’s strengths in the social sciences and cultural theory appealing to skaters’ interests. In post-16 Further Education, Confetti is a specialist creative technology college and New College Nottingham has a construction academy that could be linked with future skatepark development. Nightlife and cultural attractions include Rock City, a live music venue and sticky-floored nightclub, and more recent assets like the Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery, where the work of local and international artists is exhibited within award winning architecture. For a good guide to what’s on, check out our friends at Leftlion, the city’s long-running (and free) art, culture and social listing magazine – and regular supporter of skateboarding in Nottingham.
Key neighbourhoods for visiting skaters include:
Sneinton and St Ann’s
Nottingham’s most famous street spot is the plaza at Sneinton Market, featured in Adidas ‘Away Days’ and numerous UK skate vids, most recently ‘Get 420’. On most evenings and weekends, there will be a good number of skaters of all ages and abilities. Sneinton Market is a short walk from the new King Edward skatepark (small, street-orientated park) and, for the time being, Nottingham’s large DIY spot. Ask at 42 for directions to the DIY, and also make a £ contribution to the continued development and upkeep of the spot (use it while it lasts: with news that the waste-land in which the DIY is situated may soon be redeveloped). The Avenues Cafe on the corner of Sneinton market is a good place to get hot food and a cup of tea or coffee, whilst the King Billy pub is a few minutes’ walk from either Sneinton Market or the DIY, for post-skate beers and also the venue for our indie skate video nights. There are a range of street spots around this neighbourhood. With significant development of property and public realm, there are new spots appearing all the time.
Please be aware that street skating is still theoretically illegal in Nottingham, with a Bylaw passed in the early-2000s banning skating across the city. This has not been enforced for many years, and our relationship with the City Council and Nottinghamshire Police is currently very good. We are working hard to get street skating recognised as a positive use of public realm, to be actively encouraged where appropriate. Please be respectful of pedestrians, cyclists and other users of the space – it only takes one incident of a skater behaving badly, and years of hard work could be overturned.
Hockley and the Lace Market
On the east side of Nottingham between Sneinton and the City Centre. There are a few street spots around this area of Nottingham, including ledges, road gaps and the frequent appearance of wallie-poles (with steel bollards being hit by motorists), but this is also the heart of the city for a night out, with a high concentration of independent bars and restaurants, the Nottingham Contemporary and the Broadway Arts Cinema (where 30+ skaters are more likely to lurk, along with the Jam Cafe and the Suede Bar – for pizza as well as beer). Skaters in their teens and 20s will more likely be found in Bar Eleven – particularly on a Tuesday for the Phlebas club night.
The City Centre, Upper Parliament Street and Mansfield Road
Old Market Square in the 1990s used to be the city’s skate hotspot, with 100s of skaters every Sunday, attracting famous visitors like Kareem Campbell, Danny Way, Pat Duffy, Gino, Dill and Keenan. The anti-skate Bylaw followed by the redevelopment of the square (with built in skate-stoppers), mean that it is rarely skated – but good, granite ledges in Trinity Square and a range of spots across NTU City Campus make the loss bearable. Please avoid skating spots in the NTU Campus between 9am and 6pm on Monday to Friday, as almost 30,000 students will be in lessons, so you will be kicked off by security (all campus is private property) – and NTU are another potential ally with their interests in architecture, product design and support for educational and social projects that could involve skateboarding (so if you are asked to leave, please be polite to security – a couple of whom are former skaters and one is a local skaters’ dad!).
For nights out in this part of the city, you will find Rock City, Rescue Rooms and Stealth nightclubs, next to Spanky Van Dyke’s pub – another skater friendly venue that has hosted video nights and other events. Going north out of Nottingham via Mansfield Road will take you into Sherwood, via a range of independent restaurants and bars – including the Peacock pub, which has an all vegan menu. Sherwood and Carrington are neighbourhoods that are also full of street spots, all the way into Arnold, where Arnott Hill Park has one of the city’s older skateparks (a kidney-shaped bowl and small street area with a ledge and flatbar).