Manchester has always benefitted from a strong skateboarding community. The landscape of the city, with grand old mercantile buildings as well as modern skyscrapers, lends itself well to creating a strong sense of community. Skateboarding has thrived here as a result.
As the locals will tell you, you do have to be hardy to be a skater in Manchester. The city earnt the nickname Cottonopolis back in the 19th century because it always seemed to be raining. However, finding those sheltered spots off the beaten track is exactly what skating’s all about.
Skateboarding really took off in Manchester in the mid-eighties. Many cite this as a golden era in the city’s history, with local heroes such as Femi, Rick Cooper, Jabba and Animal laying siege to the Manchester streets, particularly Oxford Road. Animal even graced the front cover of R.A.D. magazine, with the cover photo taken in Manchester.
Since the eighties, skateboarding has continued to thrive in the city, led by a fresh faced Joe Gavin in the nineties. As a result, Manchester is often considered as the ‘skating capital of the north’. But where should you head if you fancy skating? Let’s take a look at Manchester’s top venues…
Projekts MCR was voted as one of England’s top five skateparks in The Guardian in 2014. Its owners have a simple ethos: make Manchester a better place for those who are regular skateboarders and BMXers. If you haven’t tried those disciplines yet, they want you to get involved. If you’re a beginner, they even offer skate coaching courses, so you can have the confidence to take to the ramps.
Easily Manchester’s most iconic skatepark, Projekts MCR sits underneath the Mancunian Way overpass. It’s an awesome piece of architecture, and is enjoyed even by those who don’t skate. Due to its location, it’s easily accessible from anywhere in the city. But, even if it wasn’t, it would be well worth the trip. One of the best designed skateparks in the UK, Projekts MCR is a street park with passion and soul.
It has everything you could ever need, too. It hosts flat banks, stair sets, ledges, hips, rails, bowled corners and even a bowled mini run. Whether you’re looking to practice your basic skills or master the lines, Projekts MCR is the perfect place. The gaps between the obstacles mean that beginners and experts can mingle harmoniously. There’s even a café so that you can refuel between runs. Plus, it’s undercover, so it’s perfect on those drizzly days that Manchester is so famous for. Beware though, because of this, it does get busy.
• Opening times:
o Weekdays: 12pm-9pm
o Saturdays: 1pm-9pm
o Sunday 1pm-6pm
o Hourly pass: £3
o 2-hour pass: £4.50
o Daily pass: £6
o Monthly pass: £22.50
• Address: 97 London Road, Manchester, Lancashire, M1 2PG.
• Website: http://www.projektsmcr.com
Built in 1999, Hulme Park was the first large scale new park to be built for over fifty years in Manchester. Hulme Park itself is an impressive place, hosting a children’s play area, football pitch, multi-use games area, and a BMX and skatepark.
The park itself is of fantastic quality; especially when you consider that it’s free to use. It’s especially useful for beginners and newcomers, as the quiet nature of the park means that you can use it to hone your skills before heading to busier parks like Projekts MCR.
It has a steel mini and street set up. One particular highlight is the epic rails coming off the quarter pipe. Even experienced skaters have said that they’ve never seen anything like it before.
• Opening times: From dawn to dusk
• Charge: Free
• Address: Stretford Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 5JD
• Website: Hulme Park
If you’re willing to travel outside central Manchester, then Bolton Skatepark is the place for you: it’s the ultimate proof that Manchester’s skate scene is booming.
Bolton Skatepark has been rebuilt to match its popularity. Built and designed by Freestyle, the new park opened last year. It cost £180,000 to build, and is more than double the size of the park that sat there previously. To make sure they got the design right, Freestyle even enlisted the help of 12 young skaters to help with the process. The result is something that skaters both young and old adore.
The open air park is all concrete and is set up in one long continuous flowing loop, with both street and transition elements. It is designed so that it can be used by BMXers and skaters simultaneously, and it works perfectly. The loop shape means you could hit different lines all day without getting bored.
The course starts with a taco leading onto two different paths. The first starts with a stair set, a rail and hubbas that follow onto a hipped bank. It finishes with a quarter pipe at the end that acts as a return ramp. The second path starts with a flat bank and pole jam, lined with hubbas and a rail. Then there’s an earthquake gap next to a rollover, finishing with a mellow quarter pipe as a return ramp.
There’s also a mini ramp with bowled corners and some scattered ledges. Finally, at the back of the skatepark, there’s a small rhythm run with two quarter pipes at either side, a jump box and a roll over.
• Opening times: From dawn to dusk
• Charge: Free
• Address: Dawes Street, Bolton, Greater Manchester, BL2 1HQ
• Website: N/A
With a rich skating heritage, numerous fantastic skateparks and a bustling skate scene, it’s perhaps no wonder that Manchester is known by some as the ‘skating capital of the north’. The only question that remains is: which one will you visit first? Image courtesy of iStock.