Locality: Wakefield by Faro Phiri

Updated: Jan 29

Following on from Lucy Adams in Crawley last week, today our nationwide Locality trek sees us land north, in the skateboarding mecca of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, for a guided tour by Martin Kennelly's surregate son, Rufaro ‘Faro’ Phiri.

Gain some insider knowledge and West Riding skate history now, as Faro gives you the lowdown on his Yorkshire hometown...

Faro at Thornes. Photo: Brendan 'Brenna' Harrap

Best skate spot - back in the day:

Got to be The Wreck. I think it was a warehouse knocked down right by Westgate Train Station in town, so it was banging for the after school skates. It had everything; there was always random things getting built to skate, and the gaps were like the proving ground. You were sick if you were getting tricks down the gaps (laughs). Brenna’s nollie flip was the talk of the town for a hot minute - see below.

I remember one day, I’m pretty sure it was Ben Powell, Joe Lynskey and Tom Harrison were there skating the big gap. Tom tried switch heel and I was just sitting there in awe, keeping well out of the way (laughs).

Brendan 'Brenna' Harrap - nollie flip at The Wreck, filmed on a Nokia 7650.

Best skate spot - present day:

Definitely the ledge spot in town by the college; the lighting’s not great, but beggars can’t be choosers in winter. It’s got that ground that dries up quick as well, so I’ve been absolutely rinsing it with the homies, and on my ones. It’s nice having a spot people actually come over to skate, rather than just going to Thornes, and you’re guaranteed fun there! Locals please tidy up after yourself though; would be a shame to lose it because of that reason, ‘cos it’s been un-nobbed for ages!

Best shop:

None other than Division24! I’ve got nothing but love for Wayne (Miller); that guy’s integrity and support for the Wakefield scene is unreal. Proof is in the pudding isn’t it, by how long he’s been around! Since I started skating - and still, to this day - he’ll go above and beyond for anyone. If you want or need anything specific, he’ll get you it, and keeping the locals skating has been his main priority since all this coronavirus stuff. Absolute legend Wayne! And obviously there’s Slugger if you’re in Sheffield (laughs).

Best local video part:

Brenna‘s Sore Skateboards Reprobates part; it’s not that old but the intro is classic Brenna (laughs). I mean before that, I’d always just YouTube ‘Wakefield skating’ and watch the original WUG crew, if you want to call it that [Editor's note - I'd say second generation WUG crew...]; what they were doing was sick. Aiden Blaymire, Drib, Jerome Alexander, Tom Dooley, all those guys…they’d always be making videos constantly, and that hyped us up; they were definitely the guys we looked up to, the sick locals. It meant a lot, getting props from - or even getting invited to the session with - those guys, whenever we’d catch them at a spot or something.

Best skate photo shot in Wakefield:

You know what? I’m pretty certain Lance Mountain has a picture shot in Wakefield! The spot has been knocked down now, but it was a bank to wall at the DSS building, and he was doing a wallride. I’m pretty sure the photo is in Division24 as well. Obviously that’s a sick one because of Lance Mountain being in Wakefield; I wonder what they thought of the place? Other than that, Nick Remon’s crook bonk Sidewalk cover near Hepworth Gallery is up there too!

Lance Mountain, wallride at Wakefield's DSS office, 2006. Photo: Leo Sharp

Best local - back in the day:

It’s got to be the elusive Brenna (I better get some Dunks somehow from mentioning your name so much, Brenna). He was the ‘sponsored guy’ we’d see a lot, but he’d always be chilling mostly. I remember once, I think it was before we became good friends, I asked him, “how come I never see you skate? I thought you were sponsored”, to which he replied, “I don’t have to skate hard all of the time, ‘cos I’m sponsored”. That’s literally how me and Frank Spacey Helder thought you had to skate to be sponsored (laughs). Frank would be in this category too, though he lives in Spain now. He is also amazing at skating; there was a good period of time when just me and him be at Thornes, pretty much every day, surviving on the sausage and chips kids meal from the chippy! Can’t forget Wapo (Paul Watson) the legend, or Wayne Firth either.

Best local - present day:

Would have to say Little Adam Weaver. He’s not so little anymore, but he’s still Little Adam.

Best skatepark:

Bro, Thornes.

Best eatery:

What, like food places to eat? Capri is nice, bit spenny, but if you’re strapped for cash and don’t mind risking an upset stomach, Dablish is your boy. Bring back the quid kebabs!

Best local band:

Psssh, Charlie P and Lobo I guess; they’re in the studio quite a bit. There is also a well-known band that’s mentioned a lot whenever I say I’m from Wakefield, but can’t think of the name right now…[Editor's note - probably The Cribs.]

Best local slang phrase:

“Naaahhh then”

Best local celebrity:

Alan Callaghan aka ‘Dr Tre’, duhh!

Best local point of interest/tourist must see:

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I’ve heard (famed inmate) Charles Bronson was in Wakefield prison (laughs). I never fact checked it, but I will forever run with it. Imagine being Tom Hardy, going to get a feel for the character you’re playing, and you get taken to Wakefield! I might’ve even shown my girlfriend Wakefield prison the first time she came here, because of that (laughs). It’s not like you can see into it, but still…

Best thing about living in Wakefield:

Family! And Thornes on a quiet day.

Faro getting stuck into an assortment of Wakefield street spots, filmed by Ben Powell.


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