This weekend, Long Live Southbank (LLSB) and Southbank Centre will publicly open sections of the Southbank Undercroft Skate Space which have been closed to the public since 2005. This will mark a conclusion to several years of joint discussions, planning and fundraising by LLSB and Southbank Centre to help reopen a space considered by many to be one of the world’s most important and iconic skateboarding sites.
Saturday 20 July will see skateboarders from across the country travel to the Southbank to enjoy the newly reopened space. There will be a free skate school from 11:00 – 12.30, followed by an open jam, competitions, best trick competitions, throw-outs and general celebrations. The LLSB team, past and present supporters and project funders will be reflecting on the project from 14:00.
The Undercroft, which is managed by the Southbank Centre, has been used by skateboarders since the 1970s and is considered by many to be the home of British skateboarding. Sections were closed to the public in 2004 and 2005 due to renovation and maintenance works. The local community of skateboarders, BMXers, graffiti writers and other creatives approached Southbank Centre in 2013 and 2014 and a partnership was formed to develop the space. After planning permission was granted, £1.1m was raised in a joint fundraising campaign.
The work has restored Southbank’s little banks, one of the most important sites in UK skateboarding history. The work will also restore the wooden ledge, a large area of flatground and create a new jersey barrier for skaters to use in the space. This weekend’s reopening of the space is the first of a two-phase project which will also include the development of a proposed learning space.
Continuing the celebrations, from 31 July – 3 August The Long Live Southbank Exhibition will run at Bermondsey Project Space. It will feature a detailed overview of the space’s five-decade history, the LLSB campaign and the future of the space. There will be a full programme of film screenings, speakers, panel discussions and community events with three stories of photography, film and artefacts from across the decades.
Naila Scargill is the publisher and editor of horror journal Exquisite Terror. Holding a broad editorial background, she has worked with an eclectic variety of content, ranging from film and the counterculture, to political news and finance.