World Famous Skateboard Park on London's South Bank Could Close

by KathleenDuffy

For over forty years skateboarders have been coming to a space beneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank to hone their craft. Now it is threatened with closure!

This would be a great loss to the young people of the area, Lambeth, including the generations of skateboarders who learned to love the sport, not to mention the hundreds of tourists who stroll along the Thames Embankment and stop to watch the thrilling spectacle of skateboarders going through their amazing routines.


The Under Croft Skateboard Park - Famous Skateboarding Landmark

It's a Global Icon, visited by skateboarders from all over the world!

London's iconic skateboarding 'park', known as the Under Croft, is situated in a 'dead' area of concrete  space underneath the Queen Elizabeth Concert Hall.  There is, therefore, a unique juxtaposition of high art above  and street art going on below, making this a  visual confirmation of a sort of democracy that London is famous for.

For forty years it has attracted young people who take advantage of its slopes, blocks of concrete and stout pillars -  and shelter from the elements.  They come to learn how to skateboard, to pick up tips from the experts and to refine their skills.  And there are many experts here - professionals who still come back to skate at the Under Croft.

Skater in South Bank, London
Skater in South Bank, London

I remember as far back as the 1970s this shadowy area under the Queen Elizabeth Concert Hall, which could have been so gloomy and even threatening.  But it was  soon taken over by youngsters who could see beyond the negative atmosphere. Thinking out of the box, they transformed it.

Eventually the walls were bright with painted graffiti; this lonely space became a colourful playground for enthusiasts of the new sport that was sweeping the world - skateboarding.

Skateboarding on South Bank



And as the tourists strolled along the South Bank enjoying the sight of the River Thames,  and concertgoers hurried by to their musical recitals, they stopped to admire the skills and daring leaps and jumps of these skateboarding innovators.


And it's been like that ever since.


Skateboarders from all over Britain visit the Under Croft, little children learn their first tentative tricks here, skateboarders from around the globe visit this spot and those who can't join in lean against the railings to enjoy the show.  


Graffiti in the Under Croft Skate Park, London's South Bank
Graffiti in the Under Croft Skate Park, London's South Bank

Shops Will Replace Under Croft Skate Park

It's a Dumbing-Down Situation

The South Bank's Skate Park has been under threat before, but this time it looks as though the planning permission could be accepted by Lambeth Council unless people make their voices heard.    

In the words of Jude Kelly, speaking for the Southbank Centre who are pushing for redevelopment, the plans will create 'a range of new facilities' which would include arts, cultural and retail facilities.

The skateboarders would be moved on to a space under Hungerford Bridge, one hundred yards away.  But it might as well be a thousand miles away. The Undercroft's unique history makes it an iconic place for skateboarders the world over - this cannot be replicated.

Hungerford Bridge - No Place for a Skate Park!
Hungerford Bridge - No Place for a Sk...

Henry Edward-Woods of the Save Southbank Skate Park campaign said on BBC London News that the skateboarders who used The Under Croft were never consulted about the redevelopment plans until they were well on their way to acceptance by Lambeth Council.

They feel very strongly that their skills, artistic talents and not least, their ability to attract tourism, are being marginalised in favour of mundane and elitist cultural pursuits.

Graffiti, Skate Park, South Bank
Graffiti, Skate Park, South Bank
Skating facility  South Bank
Skating facility South Bank

The South Bank Centre argues that removing the skaters from The Under Croft will allow more people to have access to the South Bank. 

But which people?   

The Under Croft is regarded by the people of Lambeth as their own space and they are proud of it. It would be replaced by shops and galleries which can be found in every tourist attraction - but a skate park is unique!  

 Some might argue that property developers are drooling at the mouth when they see an empty space which isn't making a profit!  An empty space which - horror of horrors - has been  taken over by young people! Whilst the skateboarding spectacle is entirely free to use and to watch - the new space would be full of shops generating rental space and profits.

Watch This Short Video - "Rolling Through The Decades"

Find out why the skate park on the South Bank is so important to generations of skateboarders.

Skateboarders are Fighting to Save The Under Croft

Lambeth Council Must Support Their Skateboarding Community!

Yesterday, 10th June 2013, skateboarders held a rally in central London supporting their bid to persuade Lambeth Council to reject the planning permission from the Southbank Centre.

They have presented the Council with the Save Southbank Skate Park petition which has received 30,000 signatures and is still ongoing.

Some people might feel that it is vitally important that enthusiastic and creative young people have a place where they can feel safe, meet other like-minded individuals, learn valuable athletic skills and just chill out and have fun!

And others might think this is much more valuable to the community than a row of posh shops...

Hopefully Lambeth Council will realise that what they have at The Under Croft is a unique spectacle, a really democratic space appreciated by everybody whether participating or watching.  Perhaps it will take a few thousand signatures to make them realise what they might lose and the people's enthusiasm will encourage them to make the right choice.

Let's hope so...



*********************************** UP DATE **********************************************
After a solid, vigorous and heartfelt campaign by the skateboarders, The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has come out on the side of the skateboarders. The project is now on hold and a final decision will soon be known.



Skateboarders, Skate Park, South Bank
Skateboarders, Skate Park, South Bank

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Here's a Film About The Love of Downhill Skateboarding

It shows the passion for the sport
Updated: 02/05/2014, KathleenDuffy
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


KathleenDuffy on 02/02/2014

Hello Anthony - thank you! I really enjoyed your film - beautifully made. I've put it in my article.

Anthony on 02/02/2014

perhaps this link to a film my son made will help - the 12 minute clip strives to tell the story of (downhill) skating from the skaters perspective

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