In 1991 a 146-metre-tall glass, concrete and steel beast was erected in between Sherwood Court and Barrack Street. The land was leased to the Exchange Plaza building owners for the next 135 years. Seems kind of odd that you can takeout a lease for two lifetimes? We know who the traditional owners of the land are, but the official owners are actually the Weld Club a Gentlemen’s Club for … you guessed it: “gentlemen”! No not everyone agrees with the Weld Club. These gentlemen still don’t admit women! Even ex-WA Attorney-General Jim McGinty said, “In my view organisations like the Weld Club are dinosaurs from the past.” In renting out their back lot for the next 135 these dinosaurs from the past sure did momentarily hook up the youth of the future.
The building may have been finished in 1991, but it wasn’t until the end of 1994 that it came onto our radar. The actual plaza out the front was behind temporary fencing for what seemed like eternity. It wasn’t full revealed until January 1995. The first time I was skating it was a week night, I’d just gotten back from France and after hearing some bad news I headed into the city on a rampage with Kye (Stanley). We did the usual bomb down from Leederville to the city. Hit Forrest Chase. Got kicked out of Forrest Chase and then headed over to St Georges Terrace. We ended up at the freshly revealed plaza, which seemed so pristine that it is highly doubtful it was skated prior to our visit. The place seriously had so many options. There were ledges of all sizes, consecutive sets of stairs (a three and a four), various gaps, an octagonal fountain, a seven set and of course the rail. It seemed sketchy at first, mainly because we had never skated a glass rail. But despite its clearly shatterable appearance it was sturdy as. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to learn 5050 grinds down this new rail. Mid session Brett (Margaritis) and Grant (Eastland) rocked up. Brett lipslid and front boarded the rail (probably both first shot) and before too long they said their goodbyes and left. There I was trying 50/50’s into the depths of the night. I took so long to make it that Kye and I nearly missed the last bus.
Before long the word got out about the spot. Luckily we were really just coming out of the major lull of the early 90’s and there were only about twenty odd skaters regularly skating the city during this era. I think Wednesday nights and Sundays were the ritualistic hit times. The progression that happened over the year or so it was getting heavily skated was phenomenal. The absolute heyday of the spot was for the duration of 1995, and many of these sessions were captured whilst filming for Fox Force Five (the second momentum video). For a little while there the far away lands of EMB and Love Park were on our doorstep.
For a year or so it remained uncapped, but slowly became a bust. Firstly the small ledge at the top got capped and then removed only to be replaced by a cafe. The cafe took up a third of the plaza. It was never the same after that. Next up the fountain and the ledge down the exit ramp got capped with the fierce steel caps that still garnish the plaza today. The rail remained uncapped until about 2003. Today it is a bit of a graveyard, but is worth a visit purely for its role in shaping the scene we have today. – MC
This video (below) was all shot at Stockies aka Exchange Plaza in 1995 during the production of the second Momentum video “Fox Force Five” – and has been assembled to accompany the photos in this Turf article, to give you a bit more of a grasp of what was at the spot.
Skaters in order of appearance: Morgan Campbell, Brett Margaritis, Kye Stanley, Van Peacock, Graham Withey, Grantley Miller, Jonno King, Craig White, Dean Murray, Mark “Sparky” Winter.
Filmed by: Morgan Campbell, Simon Woodacre and Kye Stanley.