A real honour for us this week as we got chance to speak to A Third Foot skateboards co-founder Joel Winwood and ask him all about the beginnings of ATF. The only UK based manufacturer of high quality skate decks!

TVSC: Hi Joel, can you please give an overview on when, how, where and why the company began?

Joel Winwood: A Third Foot was started in 1997 with funding from the Prince’s Trust by two skaters from Worcester. We both had an interest in the manufacturing side, cutting our own shapes from uncut blanks we acquired from Shiner through our little shop we sort of ran as a hobby with a third friend that was situated next to the vert ramp at Worcester youth centre..

TVSC: What did people think when you said you were going to start a company pressing decks in the UK?

Joel Winwood: Responses ranged from ‘why would you want to do that’ to people being stoked on the idea and some asking what shapes & sizes we were going to be doing.

TVSC: Who is on the management team, and what are their backgrounds?

Joel Winwood & Keith ‘Ken' Gear. We had both been skating for about 10 years prior to setting up A Third Foot. I had finished University 2/3 years before and had worked at various jobs and Ken was a trained plumber but had worked at a fibreglass factory and a plumbers - neither of us were particularly happy doing what we were doing.

TVSC: What is the company ethos?

Joel Winwood: I don’t think we really have a definite company ethos. When we started we just wanted to show that you could make boards outside the USA, which most now are, of course. It’s not something we ever sat down and discussed really. Perhaps we should’ve done - it would make marketing a lot easier!

TVSC: What sets you apart from your competitors?

Joel Winwood: I suppose the fact that we are the only UK manufacturer of top grade skateboards (ie. not toy boards).

A Third Foot Skate and Lyle Deck / TVSC

TVSC Team Pick: Skate and Lyle Deck in Green - £40

TVSC: How do you support UK athletes and the wider skate community?

Joel Winwood: We support our team (current & past) with free boards and help getting them to any events they wish to attend. As for the wider community, we've done some Guerrilla jams, as we call them - just organising a gathering at a skate spot and building some simple obstacles and having a jam/contest. Apart from that, just donating product for prizes at other events.

TVSC: Which skaters do you currently have on your pro team?

Joel Winwood: Our full team consists of Ryan Price, Lucas Healey, Andy Coleman, Jess Young & Paul ‘Jim the Skin’ Atkins, and we have Henry Fox, Jord Lightowler, Luke Kindon & Dave Pegg on the flow team.

A Third Foot team rider Henry Fox

A Third Foot team rider Henry Fox

TVSC: You guys must have seen lots of changes over the years? What's the biggest and do you think things are better now or do you harp back to the old days?

Joel Winwood: We have seen a lot of changes over the years - hard to say what the biggest one has been. There are so many more skaters around now than when we started about 30 years ago. You used to pass someone wearing ‘skate’ shoes (this was before any actual skate shoe brands, except for Vans, perhaps, but they didn’t start as shoes for skateboarding, specifically) with the tell-tale worn spots and give them a nod of recognition. Events back then could have almost every skateboarder in the country in attendance. There are also so many more brands around now too, of course. When we started, it was such an underground activity, and you’d get disapproving tuts & comments from members of the public when skating down the street.
There is far more mainstream acceptance of skateboarding now, which has it’s upsides & downsides. There are more skateparks around and skaters now have all kind of terrains to skate, giving rise to plenty of good all-terrain skaters. Also, all styles of skating are now accepted, with 80s tricks making a welcome comeback, with an added modern take. Ryan Price being a good example. Young skaters can learn much quicker now too, thanks to all the skate footage available and also watching yourself skate helps you improve.

TVSC: What do you see for the future of ATF?

Joel Winwood: Hard to say. Hopefully, survival and increased sales.

TVSC: What do you see for the future of the industry in the UK?

Joel Winwood: Another hard one to answer. There seems to be plenty of skaters around to ensure it’s here to stay now. There hasn’t been a big slump for quite a while, as there was in the 80s & 90s. Will shops survive? Those who do well online will, I think, but some of the smaller ones may struggle.

TVSC: Where can we check out your videos/stuff?

Joel Winwood: You can see videos of the team on our site, of course, plus our Youtube channel, Facebook & Instagram.


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