Updated: Apr 23
You'd struggle to find a better guide to skateboarding in Newcastle than Krishna 'Bish' Muthurangu. Not only has Bish been a stalwart of the scene since the late 1990s, he's also produced a solid stack of local videos over the years, documenting countess moments of Noertheast skateboarding heroics.
So, without further ado, we'll hand the Locality reigns firmly over to Bish, as you gives you an in-depth guided tour of his beloved Toon. Read on, marra...
Bish by Blind Johnny, 2021.
Best Newcastle spot from back in the day?
There were many spots before my skateboarding era, like the Hippie Green and the original monument ledges. However, the spot that had the biggest impact for skating in the Toon for me was the Haymarket. It was like a smaller version of Market Square in Nottingham, or the BBC ledges in Birmingham; it was one of the only spots in the centre of town that you could meet up at and skate for most of the day, hassle free. One long low ledge bordering it all, a monument in the middle, with some gaps, stairs and lots of lovely smooth ground. It was also built just around the time of the resurgence of skating in Newcastle, in the early ‘00s. Before that, the Toon scene had sort of died out to only really a handful of skaters, and the Haymarket helped build the scene back up, creating a real focal point for everyone.
Seeing Harry Bastard skating it in the Unabomber video Headcleaner was so sick, and local OG Rosey used to have lines for days there, all while wearing triple XL jeans and some dubious early ‘00s shirt choices!
Rosey at the Haymarket ledges.
Best present day Newcastle spot?
Sunniside Plaza. Even though it’s not in Newcastle, maybe the Sunderland lot will let us have it because it’s still on the metro line… People will have seen the Plaza in loads of UK videos - it’s been in OG Blueprint vids, loads of Big Push edits and has been visited by pretty much every touring team. It’s obvious why though; it’s a massive plaza space with manny pads, gap to metal boxes, two massive humped snake ledges, regular ledges of all sizes, and various gaps. It’s a great place to clock footy, and it’s generally bust free; it can be a bit sketchy at times, but as long as you’re with a few people you should be fine. That said, I probably wouldn’t skate there by myself in the evening. Mark Baines’ gap to noseblunt, the long way, on the box in the Blueprint vid is a highlight from there, or maybe Dylan Hughes throwing down the N.A.C (tre crooks) on the smaller gap to box to complete his ‘Street Dreams’.
Best local video?
There’s this great video called Bishcam, probably one of the best videos ever made… (laughs)! But seriously I think Way Up North by Jimbo (James Coyle) is the best video to come out of the Toon. Jimbo and a few of the other skaters from Ireland came over for uni in the mid ‘00s, and they made a massive impact on the scene. Not only did they improve the standard of skating, but Jimbo in particular made the quality of video output from the North East go through the roof. There were only a few of us filming and editing before, and to be honest, the standard was pretty average; well, for me in particular.
It was more about documenting than making the slickest vids. The making of Way Up North changed that. The standard of filming and skating was so high that it made everyone else get better by osmosis! It really made me try and improve the way I filmed and edited, and more importantly, it’s an absolute sick vid, filled with wall to wall hammers. It’s online so get it watched! Some stand out tricks are Jimmy Boyce’s tail stall flip into the bank at Five Bridges, Dan Sammon’s switch frontside flip at the Pilgrim stairs and Scott’s switch heel then switch flip at Law Courts.
Way Up North by James Coyle (2008)
Best local video part?
This is always going to be a tough one as there’s been so many bangers over the years. I don’t want to say any ones that I filmed as it’s a bit CMOAC (laughs).
Two that I rewatch quite regularly are Jimbo’s part from Way Up North, and Connor North’s Welcome to Fabric part.
Jimbo’s section is a bit of classic; good music, good skating and a good era for Newcastle skating. The switch inward heel he does at the end of a line at the Get Carter carpark is absolute steez.
Connor’s section was part of his introduction to Fabric, so it’s not officially a local vid, however 99% of the footage was filmed in Newcastle so I think it gets a pass. Connor was a bit of a ‘wunderkid’ who could do really impressive tricks, but this section was when his actual style on a board had started to come to the forefront. The line at Five Bridges ending in a halfcab manny backside flip out is particularly spicy.
Connor North - Welcome to Fabric (2011)
Best Newcastle trick committed to film?
I think it might have to be Adam Stoddart’s kickflip down the Tesco double set from his Mischief Northbound section. It’s a cliché when people describe how gnarly spots are, but this isn’t a spot to mess around on. It’s only ever been ollied before that, and since Adam’s kickflip, no one else has stepped up to try anything else - which is a testament to how gnarly the spot is. When Adam was out filming with Steven ‘Bingo’ Binks (RIP) all the time he was regularly throwing down insane NBDs, and to be honest, there’s quite a few tricks he’s done in Newcastle that could take the mantle as the ‘best trick committed to film’.
Adam Stoddart, kickflip at Gateshead Tesco. Photo: Leo Sharp.
Best Newcastle trick that you’ve personally documented?
I’ve got to split this up a little I think as there’s a few different ‘bests’! One of the craziest things I filmed was Kurt Mitchell trying Cramlington Double Set for his ender in my first ever scene video, Bishcam. It’s a nine flat eight and he was trying to ollie the rail to flat. Even though no one else was even going to touch it, we went crew deep with about four cars (laughs)! Jackie and a few others couldn’t even watch as they thought it was going to end pretty brutally, so they went to McDonalds until it was over (laughs). To be honest, I thought if he didn’t get it first go it’d be game over, as it’s so high, but to Kurt’s credit he gave it around eight attempts. Sadly, he didn’t roll it, but it’s still one of the craziest things attempted in the Toon.
Bar Scott’s switch heel from 2005, which I’ll talk about in a minute, I think it might have to be Helder Lima’s backside flip at Maddison’s double set, or James Bush’s switch backside 360 at Whitley Bay block four. Both were done a couple of years back; Helder while he was in Newcastle visiting some family, and Bush on a Fabric trip. Helder rolling away fakie at that speed from the double is something to behold; he cleared it by so much. After he lands it, you can see Dan Main visibly gasp, which deserved a slo-mo zoom-in on my last scene video Northern Souls. And Bush’s switch 360 was the last of about ten tricks he put down the set in that one session; that guy is too consistent!
I might have to give an honourable mention to Lazerflip Steve as well, who bagged the last trick of the friends section in my second scene video Pigs In Wigs with a switch tre revert manny lazerflip out. Try saying that after a few drinks! When he said he wanted to film it, I got pretty comfy as I thought it could have been one of those two hour filming sessions, but to both of our surprise, he got it pretty quick. He’s based in Leeds now, so if you see some guy throwing around lazerflips like there’s no tomorrow, go say hello.
Best trick done by a visiting pro?
That’s a tough one so I think I’ll split it into the best trick done by a UK pro and best trick by an international pro.
For the UK I think it might have to Neil Smith’s ollie at gap-to-bench. As the name pertains, people usually skate it as a classic gap-to-grind. There’d always been claims that you could ollie the whole bench but no one had even tried it, and then Neil Smith turns up on a Big Push and clears it like it’s nowt, (laughs).
For the international category, it might have to be Jereme Rogers with a backside tail and backside nosegrind at gap-to-bench again. Not only are the tricks gnarly, it was also one of the first times a Newcastle spot had appeared in a major American video - DVS Skate More. I know this isn’t such a big deal for cities like London, Manchester and so on, but for the Newcastle skaters at the time it was sick to see, and it definitely got everyone hyped up!
Best skate photo shot in Newcastle?
Scott Cherry’s switch heel at Maddison double set for a Document Magazine article around 2005. There are so many reasons this is the best photo. Scott is an underground Newcastle legend who's been ripping since the ‘90s. Up to this point, he and most of the other people in the article, hadn’t really had any proper coverage so everyone - including Scott - were going as hard as possible. Scott had tapped a switch heel at the double before, so that was the chosen spot for his photo. Unluckily for him, the only day he could try it was when it was lashing down with rain. The set has a tendency to be covered in used needles and puddles of general filth as it’s in a hidden walkway. It’s undercover but the roof leaks, so when Scott went to try the trick, it was pretty slippy, which was made worse by the tiled floor.
Scott Cherry - switch heel, 2005. Photo: Stephen 'Kingy' King.
Usually you’d get your speed by rolling down the non covered walkway bank into the tunnel, but because of the rain, that was not possible. This meant he had to try and get his speed from less than half the usual runway. Before Scott landed the switch heel, it had only ever been ollied and backside 180’d by Ronny Calow; Urwin had tapped a kickflip, but nothing else had been rolled, so it’s pretty unreal that he was chucking himself down it switch. Because he couldn’t get the speed he needed, he kept clipping the last step and slamming, but somehow - out of sheer grit - he managed to roll away from one. In the footage, you can even see the pool of water where he was popping from. I remember after he landed it, we went to the pub and just watched all of the attempts over and over again for a couple of hours (laughs).
Favourite Jimmy Boyes trick done in Newcastle?
It’s not technically in Newcastle, but Jimmy’s throw on boardslide at Durham uni 20 stair. Jimmy took a few of us to the spot when we were filming some last tricks for Kurt’s section in Bishcam, and by the casual way he mentioned he’d skated it, it seemed like an approachable spot. But when we got there it became very apparent that no one but Jimmy would ever touch it; it had crusty roll up and was ridiculously big! I thought the footage would never surface and would be confined to skateboard lore, but it randomly got used for his Superdead guest board clip.
Best local skater, back in the day?
Neil Urwin, by a clear mile. While there were skaters from the North East who were hooked by UK teams, I think it’s safe to say Urwin was seen as one of the big timers. Back when I started around ‘97, our crew kind of saw him and the whole Mischief crew as local heroes. Obviously there wasn’t the advantage of all footage and photos being online, so it was the classic chat of “I heard he did this'', or “I heard back in the day Urwin landed this here”.
It was mad to see a skater from Newcastle in 411 or in a New Deal video. I still love his section from the Reaction video Creation; there are some great long gone Newcastle spots in there.
Neil Urwin, as seen in New Deal's Ninety Six promo video (1996)
Best local skater, present day?
It’s a toss up between The Cougar, Connor North or Will Creswick. The Cougar is indisputably the gnarliest skater in the North East, and he’s doing stuff that no one else is doing around here. Some of the stuff he’s landed hasen’t even been touched by the various pros that have passed through. I think if he managed to get out skating in other cities, he could really end up being a staple of the wider UK scene.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have Connor and Will. Both are steez kings and they find the most interesting ways to skate the city; they’re always finding new lines and spots, as well as new ways to hit old spots. If you check out their footage online, you’ll see bits of Newcastle that haven’t been featured in any videos before, which is rare nowadays.
I have a few as my life consists of a lot of eating!
For a more restaurant vibe I’d have to say Cook House in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle, where all the best independent bars and cafes are. It’s got a bit of a cult following and has a good vibe - the menu always changes, and everything is freshly handmade or locally sourced.
If coffee is your game, Pink Lane Coffee next to Central Station is the best in the city, and you can spend a few hours chilling or doing work inside. And if you’re looking for some sweet stuff, hit up Cake Stories in Jesmond, as it’s outta bounds. My personal favourite is the Lemon Blondie.
For takeaways, it’s gotta be Papa Ganoush, it’s legitimately some of the best Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food in Newcastle, and to make it even better, it’s owned by a local skater!
The Trent House! There’s a few ‘skate bars’ in the Toon, but this will always be my personal favourite. In its heyday it was always the place to go after a weekend skate session, with its free jukebox, 50p pool, £1.50 vodka doubles - sadly that’s not the price any more - and a nice chilled crowd. Many a skate premiere was preceded with some drinks there.
Best local business?
It’s got to be Native, hasn’t it? Native is Newcastle’s only skater-owned store and the heart of the Newcastle scene. Even though Jackie doesn’t have the time to get out skating much anymore, he’s always helping in the background; be that hooking up the local rippers, or helping put on various events.
Also the rest of the Native staff - Azeene, Johnny, Connor, Glen and Lewis - are integral to the actual scene, so can give you the best advice when it’s needed. Also, Johnny is Newcastle’s go-to skate photographer, so on top of serving the Newcastle skate community, he’s also taking some of their best photos.
Bish frontside noseslide. Photo: Blind Johnny.
Favourite local slang phrase?
‘Radge/Radgie’ - I read that it was derived from the word ‘rage’ which makes a lot of sense. Radgeness is not so much a phrase, as it is a state of mind. If someone is being radge, they’re either absolutely kicking off about something, or doing something mad. Being a radgie however, is someone who lives radgefully.
Best local celebrity?
Paul 'Gazza' Gascoigne, because he was a beast of a footy player and he was always having a joke. Check out the clip online of him doing a promo for a safari park, it’s an absolute crease!
Best Newcastle affiliated band?
That’s got to be Venom and Dire Straits. Venom because without them there wouldn’t be thrash metal or black metal, and Dire Straits because they’re straight up legends. A bit of trivia I enjoy; Money For Nothing was the first music video ever shown on MTV Europe. Also, Local Hero by Mark Knopfler – the lead singer and guitarist for Dire Straits - is played before the start of every home game for Newcastle United...TOON, TOON, TOON ARMY!
Best thing about living in Newcastle?
Newcastle is small enough that you can feel that you’re really part of the community, yet still large enough that it’s not dull and monotonous. You’ve a city that’s full of great independent shops, cafes and bars, and retains its local personality. I’d like to think that anyone who visits will instantly be made to feel at home, and that’s probably why people find it so hard to leave. Also, we’ve got both a 24 hours Greggs and a drive-thru Greggs; we’re living in 2121 over here!