Clapham Common and Stockwell Skateparks

I am not one of these nauseating people who sets to work at every aspect of their life, professional or personal, by applying determination, discipline and organisation. Nevertheless, I do vaguely aspire to continual self-improvement in my hobbies, and so it is in a very haphazard (and hence, I don't doubt, slow) fashion that I attempt to progress with my photography, occasionally having a whim to impose some fleeting sense of structure on my practice.

This was one of those moments, where I realised that in my usual pursuit of landscape or architectural subjects, I generally treated people as an annoyance and an obstruction ("get the hell out of my frame", mutter, mutter), or, at best, occasionally useful in discreetly offering a sense of scale.

A nagging sense that photographic abilities, or a photographic sense of style, which depended on the absence of people was not much cop, especially in London of all places, prompted me to set myself a challenge to make people the focus of my photos for a change.

So it was that I headed off to Clapham Common, the first of two nearby skate parks on the afternoon's agenda.

Clapham Common Skatepark Clapham Common Skatepark

I hopped off the 37 and started sizing up the location. For the umpteenth time, the sun was in a highly inconvenient place, and I reminded myself that considering angle of sun -> time of day in advance of planning when to actually visit a place, was another area where a little more discipline and rigour would pay dividends.

One of the lads saw my camera and headed over, asking somewhat suspiciously what I was taking photos of. I explained that I was hoping to get some cool tricks or air or something, you know, and he was mollified; more than mollified in fact, he insisted on ollying repeatedly until satisified he'd given me a decent one.

Clapham Common Skatepark

Photographic privileges earnt, I tried to fade back into invisibility and capture the natural activity of the skaters... although, despite my supposedly people-centric mission, I wasn't about to ignore the sharp lines and vivid colours of the graffiti covering the setting.

Clapham Common Skatepark Clapham Common Skatepark


Being one of those people who wears skaterish hoodies and shoes but doesn't actually skate, I'm not up to speed with skatepark demographics, so I was surprised at the weight of scooters.

In daily life I'll be something of a prematurely grumpy old man and say these scooters are something of a menace. Round my way, they're regularly wielded on pavements by speeding 6-8 year olds with seemingly, shall we say, laissez-faire parents.

But in a half pipe, in the older and practiced hands of "green t-shirt guy" in particular, they were something else altogether. Very impressive, and thoroughly not captured by still photography.

Clapham Common Skatepark Clapham Common Skatepark

"Bladers only"

Inline skaters were well represented too.

To be honest, I don't have any other waffle to fill this space with, so I'll stick in the trusty fallback of the infobox...

... you know, just in case anybody needed it explaining that Clapham Common skatepark is on Clapham Common, accessible via Clapham Common tube.

Clapham Common Skatepark Clapham Common Skatepark Clapham Common Skatepark Clapham Common Skatepark


Presently, I opted for a switch of scene, and strolled the short distance across town to Stockwell skatepark.

Mostly a large smooth bowl affair, this is physically a very different kettle of fish to the street furniture style at the Common, although here again the graffiti ensured the concrete backdrop was anything but colourless.

Here, BMXs dominated...

And again, I don't have any hilarious or fascinating BMX-related text to pad out all these photos, so I'll give you an infobox again. At least this one is slightly more useful in pointing out that Stockwell skatepark is slightly closer to Brixton tube than Stockwell tube... although only by the most trivial of margins, so that not useful really.

Brixton Victoria
Stockwell Skatepark Stockwell Skatepark Stockwell Skatepark Stockwell Skatepark Stockwell Skatepark

Clapham was a teenagers' world, but there seemed a wider age range here, with younger kids on their bikes, and older skaters on their boards.

Unsurprisingly, being set in a residential area rather than in the middle of a large open space, it also had more of a community vibe, with the sprinkling of (presumably) locals chilling and watching in the background.

Stockwell Skatepark Stockwell Skatepark Stockwell Skatepark
London Borough of Lambeth