Does skateboarding have a future at Southbank

Words by Henry Edwards-Wood

Photo’s courtesy of Dom Marley

Mark ‘Fos’ Foster one foots London’s most prestigious spot.

fosheroinskateboardssouthbankThis Wednesday (23rd February 2011) saw what will hopefully be the first of many Southbank user meetings at the Royal Festival Hall. The meeting was organised by the Southbank Centre and its aim was to open communications between themselves and the skateboarding community who use the Undercroft area.

Before the meeting I was fearful that we would be told that Southbank was going to be shut down or we were to be relocated to some crappy skate park somewhere else, a fear shared by my fellow SB locals and London skateboarders alike. However the other meeting attendees and I were pleasantly surprised. It seems as though Southbank is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and what’s more the SB authorities have said they will work closely with the skaters to improve the space.

It was established that BMX riders did not care about SB as there was not one present at the meeting. We spoke about the serious injury a BMXer caused a pedestrian last year and voiced how BMXers are dangerous and ignorant and should have no place in the Undercroft (as it used to be). The skateboarders were also quick to ask why graffiti had been allowed to take place in Southbank for the past four years. The organisers had no idea that we objected to the graffiti, in fact they thought we loved it as it was part of the “urban culture” that everyone so easily pigeon holes us into. The meeting organisers, Julia Sawyer and John Gray were very receptive to these revelations and have vowed to address the graffiti situation as well as to look at banning BMXers from riding at Southbank.

Other topics that were discussed were better lighting, replacing the original railings and adding barriers to separate the public, more bins, the temporary beach that will be opposite the Undercroft in the summer and CCTV that will be installed. They also said that they would provide us with squeegees and other equipment for us to dry the floor when it is wet down there, which is a result.

Andrew Brophy floats one of his legendary ollies high above the rubble.


These meetings will now be held quarterly and there is talk of setting up a page on the Southbank Center website to allow for the skateboarding public to be kept up to date with the goings on in the Undercroft. Some changes will be almost instant, some will be more long term, but the bottom line is that Southbank isn’t going anywhere!

Overall this is a massive result and a good start to what will hopefully become a strong alliance with the Southbank Centre authorities. The notes from the meeting will be written up and emailed to the attendees so keep your ears peeled for more info on the changes to our beloved Undercroft.

Scroll down to comment on this first session or discuss it on our facebook page.

36 thoughts on “Does skateboarding have a future at Southbank”

  1. Thats a load of bullshit. The BMXers care as much for Southbank as the skaters do. Its just that none of the locals seemed to be aware of the meeting at all. Riders have been using SB as long as the skaters have, if not longer and care equally for the future of BMX and skating at SB. Sighting a single incident of injury to the public in 20 years is just as laughable as saying we don’t care. Are you really expecting people to believe that the only ever incident of that nature in SB’s history was a BMX one? No skater has ever collided with a pedestrian? And you have the nerve to call BMXers ignorant? People and comments like yours are the main reason there is constantly an atmosphere between two groups of people that ultimately have the same goal. Having a good time at a spot that we could all easily use at the same time. As a BMXer with more than ten years experience on a bike (as well as a skateboard), I find your comments some of the most ignorant since caballero started his hate campaign.

  2. Miaooowwww, way to make a generalisation about BMXers, imagine if people made one about skaters liking graffiti, oh wait…..

  3. ha, this is seriously a joke. i am also a sb local who rides BMX and did not hear anything about these meetings. as you have posted such an ignorant and saddening write up on the whole story i will make sure i attend every meeting that happens and will get the backing of as many BMX riders as possible. i cannot believe skaters are so close minded to even think anything as bad as this. as a BMX rider i totally respect every sport/ culture i.e skate and graffiti and have never had a problem with you guys even though the majority of london skaters are complete douche bags as agreed by almost every other skater not from london. i will also make sure i argue as hard as i can for us to be able to ride the grind blocks without being threatened and intimidated by the skaters. the blocks are there for the public to do what they wish with(within reason). as for the graffiti, well some of it is some of the best i have seen in my life and it attracts many tourists and other graffiti artist to display their work.

    this write up has just made me loose so much respect for you guys. i think the sport you do is amazing and love watching it and had all the time in the world for it. its a shame that when you actually meet the people that do, do these amazing things they actually turn out to be the most pathetic, close minded, moody, self centered people you will ever meet in your life.

    cheers guys

    much love

    but not to the SB skaters


  4. i am too a bmxer, and in all fairness, one idiot on a bike may have hit a pedestrian, but im damn sure in the whole time ive been bmxing ive seen more skateboards roll along the ground hitting people than i have bikes, shit like this is what feeds the hate between skaters and bmxers, SB is a spot where people socialise, meet up, and ride and have a laugh, im sure its just the same for skaters, sometimes accidents happen, and some stuck up skaters just need to realise that.

  5. bmxer – Get off your bike and calm down. Your comments are what give bmxers a bad name. Just for your info skaters were using SB way before BMXing was ever around. I skated SB way back in the 70’s.

  6. Dave B so are you saying just because skaters were there first makes it automatically yours, if you were around in the seventies then i assume your are an adult so please act like one and if this article was written by a bmxer you know the outrage it would cause and rightly so, this is not needed in any way we need to get along otherwise this stupid battle that has arisen will just keep going.

  7. Amazing news. Thanks for putting in the effort to keep the home of skateboarding in the England alive. Most people don’t bother and passionate people are needed when our opinions are mostly disregarded due to stereotypes people make about us.

    Obviously you didn’t write this for BMXers to read it but calling them all ignorant is pointless and hypocritical when you judge people for stereotyping skateboarders in the same paragraph.

    Think about what you write before you put your name to it or people will lose respect for your opinion.

  8. Yo you BMX twats. I’ve been skatin southbank for nearly 15 years bruv, skate everyday, i’ve been to all the meetings that concern its well being, it was also skaters whomade the petition to save southbank and the ones who worked in conjunctin wit the festival hall to get blox there that you stupid fucks chip so fuck you both. So no bruv you didnt do shit. You’s lot are good at moaning when its convenient. you have no interest in what happens to SB if you did you would of been at that meeting so no mate you have no interest.proof right there when you talk bout that person who got hit it was a bmxer so why should skateboarders suffer for your ignorance and anyways Southbank hasalways been for skateboarders, as for you ridin there best find somewhere else G coz hopefully your gonna have to. Like tottenham thats your shit go there we wont bother you. and for respect being lost, we didnt have none for you to begin wit. you never show us none.
    andif you wanna talk to me in person bout this subject you know where to find me, coz i’m a real local. not some halfway crook like you bitches.
    Southbank Local

  9. what you on about the blocks were put there by moving units who are skateboarders an bmxin has not been there longer than skatin do ure research before u put up fake facts. it is true bmxers have a right to cycle there cause uyou guys have been there for few years now, but graffers need to do one so many fights involved cause of writing on walls.

  10. FUCK YOU,i have seen at SB some of the biggest twats and they were on Skateboards and of an age that should of known better. the most damning thing i would say against the Bmxers, that you see maybe a younger crowd,
    burn in hell Henry!

  11. If u bmxers had cared you would have bothered to make an appearance or sign any save sb petitions over the last 20 years . As it is whoever made the claim that u have been bmxing there for twenty years is talking rubbish the barriers were pulled down about 6 years ago or so by bmxers .So thats kinda impossible . All the health n safety issues of that place are to do with bmxers doing stupid things n endangering the public . You guys have never supported any of the save sb petitions etc or ever helped take care of the place . Do i go to a bmx spot n leech of u guys i think not

  12. nice one!
    I think that the railings definitely need to go up again. that will stop the head on traffic from both sides.
    thats probably why the skate/ bike thing is such an issue at south bank.

    ban graffiti before anything. thats the reason we lost viccy benches. some dumbass tagged a bench.

  13. This is all so typical, childish, and very disappointing of the ‘skaters involved’ in creating misinformation to the South Bank Centre about BMX riders local to South Bank.

    So what if skaters used the area before BMXers (Dave B.)? You used to ride there in the 70s, so how old are you now?

    We all take out tourists accidentally once in a while – boards and BMX.

    I was aware of the meeting but couldn’t take part due to pressing issues. We missed one meeting and this is the decision made behind our backs? One meeting fellows. I have a photo of the invitation that was posted on the column and it in no way stated how deeply important for the long term that meeting was. It mentioned details of an event that would take part on a weekend and they wished to discuss safety, etc. Nothing to do with the future of South Bank… Unless there was a different invite. If that’s the case, then none of us BMXers were notified via our skater buddies or South Bank Centre.

    How about we actually start to work together for once and make South Bank the best it can be for those it’s useful to?

    Note: I’m not afraid to actually post my full name.

  14. “coz i’m a real local. not some halfway crook”

    ive never said or typed this in my life…but LOL i hope you giggled to yourself when you thought you were havoc on a skateboard!!!

    skater…bmxers…we are all cut from the same cloth and ride the same spots, so just get over yourselves…….be stoked the spots still gonna be there, i am coz it keeps you lot out of the other skateparks!

    the article is stupidly written though.

  15. maybe all skateboarders were there at the time of the meeting but mos of the bmxrs have a job we just don’t stay all day at sb living of benefits or selling drugs

  16. Henry,

    I can’t thank you enough for your wonderfully articulated and vastly overdue article and observations on our current plight.

    I was, for a while, concerned that I might be alone in my disbelief at the widespread acceptance of this now commonplace infringement of human rights and the invasion of personal space inflicted upon us by these uninvited social groups.

    I am thankful that in more recent years, as a grown up, I have seldom had to endure these encounters.

    My daughters plight, however, is entirely different, and unfortunately it shares more than a passing resemblance to the struggle that you and your skateboarding companions at the Southbank have to contend with.

    Only last week, after collecting her from nursery, did I Iearn that earlier that day, the sand pit, which previously had only been visited by children from my daughters nursery, had literally been invaded by dozens of babies and toddlers from a neighbouring school.

    As I’m sure you can imagine, my daughter and her friends were mortified, as was I, and as the afternoon slowly played out, relations continued to deteriorate as it transpired that these uninvited and obviously ignorant children had not only invaded their space, but they had also brought their own buckets and spades!

    I can’t tell you how upset I was to hear of this and immediately contacted my local councilor to set a petition in place to keep these unwanted vagrants away from the sandpit, which might I add, my daughters nursery had blatantly been the first to play in.

    To make matters worse, it later transpired that at one point in the afternoon, a child had jumped in a puddle and splashed a passerby, slightly muddying their trouser leg and causing some distress.

    Obviously this is completely unacceptable behaviour and although nobody stepped forwards to claim responsibility, it is without question, not the kind of activity that the babies at my daughters nursery would entertain and yet another reason why these uninvited ruffians should stay away.

    Over the weekend I tried to explain to her (she’s only 2) that as she gets older, this sad and somewhat bizarre reflection of today’s society, which see’s individuals from different backgrounds and social groups, sharing a common space and getting along together, will from time to time rear it’s ugly head and that hers wouldn’t be the first generation to endure it.

    As fate would have it, later on over the weekend I was forwarded your article by a colleague and I was subsequently able to share it with my daughter.

    Luckily, even with her limited vocabulary, she was able to grasp the importance of your words and I can only hope that together, we have taken the first small step towards the positive education of our next generation, increasing their awareness of this unacceptable and frankly bizarre vision of a society that is free to express themselves, happily sharing their surroundings with their friends and peers.

    One last twist of fate is that as a BMX’er myself and also someone directly involved in the creation of one of the campaigns promoting the upcoming Festival of Britain, (which I believe was the intended agenda of the meeting you attended), I am able to feed the comments aired by you and your friends, directly into the system, where I’m sure they will be greeted with open ears, and I can only hope that we can find a way to share these sentiments with a much wider group, and together, we can fight for a truly divided and segregated society, where we no longer have to endure anything of any relevance, enjoyment or fulfillment to anyone other than ourselves.

    Here’s to a bleaker future.

    Many thanks once again.

  17. Ha, the article itself is extremely biased, so bmxers should take little notice- what they write about the southbank centre talking about banning them may purely be an exaggeration, and even if it isn’t, it’s pathetically childish of them to lay such hypocritical statements down. I, myself, am not a bmxer, nor a skater, but I enjoy watching both down there. So skaters? Get a grip, grab your balls, and learn to tolerate. It’s not like they shit on your parade or whatever, they’re there for the same reason as you are.

  18. Can’t belive some peoples views on this matter.get along with eachother and stop claiming this spot is yours and grow the fuck up.

  19. hey jamel maybe the skaters that did attend took a few hours / the day off work to attend the meeting because they care so much about sb?

    it’s definitely a possibility that some people use ‘i cant come , ive got a job’ to justify not attending because they don’t actually care enough…we’ve all used that excuse at some point in our lives for not attending something right? i know i have in the past, havent we all.

    but look at us skaters….we attended in force and we spoke our minds, and we offered our services to help make things better for the people who allow us to skate there, and for the people who skate there who have made it what it a longstanding world famous skate spot…which has even appeared on top selling video games.

    we were organised and that says a lot. there was not ONE bmxer there even though posters for the meeting were stuck to pillars at sb for everyone to see, skaters and bmxers, general public, whoever.

    there was even a couple of people there supporting urban dance at sb! that says it all dont you think? dancers supporting dancing there but no bmxers supporting bmx. kinda funny and kinda pathetic really.

    there’s clearly way less dancers that use SB than bmxers so in my eyes the fact that there were dancers there speaking their minds and not one bmxer there doing the same, im sorry mate… it just doenst add up.

    thanks to leon, who clearly cares about sb for helping raise more awareness…he did that because he CARES…clearly no bmxers took that initiative themselves. not even one bmxer turned up let alone helped to spread the word! NOT EVEN ONE BMXER! there is NO excuse to justify that.

    but now, all this fuss has kicked off im sure that the next meeting will be full of you guys….a little too late though maybe? without all this fuss the next meeting would most likely have a low turn out of bmxers if any.

    But as it all seems to be kicking off now that youve been spotlighted for not showing any support i am sure you’ll all be there acting like you really care by fighting your corner…shame on you. it’s a shame that it takes this to get you to attend.

    yes some of the skaters are on the dole just like everyone from all walks of society but i wouldnt say ALL skateboarders that were at the meeting have no responsibilities / no job or are drug dealers(!?!?!)..what the hell????

    Everyone knows that there’s a good mix of amateur and professional sponsored skateboarders, industry people, freelancers, students etc etc etc that spend a lot of time at SB.

    lets look at the facts…southbank is made up of mainly skateboarders, bmxers and graffiti artists but only skaters who REALLY cares about sb? we care about sb like we care about a family member, every other ‘scene’ that uses it cares about it like its an acquaintance.

  20. darryl munroe…thats fair enough that you could not attend due to pressing issues but there was nothing stopping you from helping to spread the word about the meeting like leon and others in london who really care did? well done leon i say…pat on the back brother!

    i am sure you care, but you didnt care ENOUGH to make sure that bmxers did attend when you couldnt.

  21. oi you bunch of bmxer wankers, go peg fuck some other blocks somewhere else. Skaters run SB

  22. Chris, you have completely missed the whole point there buddy, and run the risk of making yourself an instigating fool. Stop and catch your breath there and think carefully: This has nothing to do with people not caring about South Bank. This is a matter of the meeting that stood for one thing at the start and ended up becoming based on something else ‘after’ the meeting was done (which is not unusual in meetings but still), then somehow it turned into this article and ridiculous ongoing waffle. If I were in that meeting as a skater, I would have suggested we handle the meeting as advertised and without swaying from the topics, then arrange a different meeting based on ‘The future of South Bank’ in the ‘Other Buisness’ section of that meeting. That’s how it’s done… With courtesy and respect for the others unable to make it to that meeting.

    Please read the poster of the meeting again and then tell me if anyone could expect to hear anything about ‘The Future of South Bank’ at that meeting. People naturally weigh the importance of a meeting based on it’s topic, especially when they have a very busy lifestyle. The topic of the meeting has nothing to do with South Bank’s future. There was no level of high importance depicted in that poster which encouraged people to drift from anything pressing they had at the same time the meeting took place. See where this is going? If that doesn’t help, then I can present you with the minutes of that meeting and official correspondense which confirms all this.

    Enough with all the continued childish nonsense and let’s get on with some proper productivity here. I’m done here – won’t be responding to anymore of this nonsense.

    South Bank can never be South Bank without our groups using this government space since the past. Present and future generations will be there after we are gone.

  23. ok you completely misunderstood the point i was making about ‘caring about sb’. i dont really care much for your patronising way of telling me that i missed the point either but thats cool, i must have pressed your buttons as you were reading my post thinking that i thought the meeting was about sbs future, i never thought it was about sbs future… but i understand that theres crossed wires here…i was angered by jamels comment hence the tone of my last post.

    personally i didnt ever think of it as a meeting to talk about the future of southbank…i never thought that because i read the posters and they were very easy to understand!

    like you say the posters around the place made no suggestion that it was to do with southbanks future. i think people misunderstood the nature of the meeting…well they obviously did.

    >> personally i was there because the powers that be requested our attendance and i cared enough to attend. <<

    dont get me wrong, i have no problem with bmxers in general. i do have a problem with bmxers using the blocks because as we all know they get chipped so easily by the pegs. this isnt really an issue for me because local bmxers who know the deal respect that unwritten law and dont use them, the only bmxers that use them are most likely non locals….after all, wihtout us skateboarders there would not be blocks and might even be a dif something else.

    im not trying to instigate anything, it was mainly a reply that was fuelled by jamel's inane comment that seemed to be designed to tarnish our name.

    'maybe all skateboarders were there at the time of the meeting but mos of the bmxrs have a job we just don’t stay all day at sb living of benefits or selling drugs'

    but still no bmxers made the effort to turn up, not one regardless of the nature of the meeting.

    the bottom line is that southbank wanted to meet with the people who use it and the only people who made the effort and showed up were us skateboarders and the one dancer guy…there was

    it was a wet day, sb was soaking and we all still made journeys down from many parts of london to attend regardless of the nature of the meeting…i think that says a lot.

  24. chris, i myself am a BMXer, and although i have never skated, i love watching it and generally get along with most skaters. i would like to apologise on behalf of BMX for jamel as he seems typical of our scene these days, which has become saturated with arrogant kids that think the world owes them something. this is the problem. because of idiots like him that seem hell bent on causing disruption between two groups of relatively similar people, most skaters will think of riders as cocks, and vice versa. im not going to lie to you, i think that the article was out of line to bad mouth riders in this way, but i can fully understand the point you are trying to make. i am not local to SB in anyway but it is a landmark in the “street” scene, be it skating or riding, and it seems ridiculous that this petty divide between our two cultures is still prevailing. cheers

  25. A main issue in Southbank is that graffiti artists totally ruin the place and make it look like a dump.. they graffiti over the lights disabling you to see while skating and they make the floor wet and slippy. The bmxers as well .. this meeting (which i went to) must of been advertised at least somewhere or even skaters wouldn’t of known about it, and if no bmxers show up it’s obviously going to make others think that the bmxers don’t give a shit, its not as if the meeting was only advertised to skaters. Another thing about bmxers is that they take up an unnecessary amount of space because a bike is quite a bit bigger than a skateboard. Bmxers take up the nearly most of the banks (an important part of the skatepark) which doesn’t allow skaters to skate it with out getting hit by a bike. I’m sure pedestrians feel much more intimidated by bikes then by skaters and that there have been a lot more accidents involving bmxers and pedestrians than skaters and pedestrians.

  26. Seriously fuck off you bastard BMXers do care about SB just as much as skaters just skating’s more popular.

  27. im a skateboarder from Oxford and everyone I know would agree Southbank skaters are wankers who think they’re way too cool for school.

  28. but you live in oxford and don’t know any of them personally so your opinion is void of value. VOID.

  29. LOLZ…. I think its Proper ‘Bo that SB is not only staying but is actually viewed as a positive thing by the SB management. SHAMON !!!

    Secondly all you twats who brown nose Slack City and think you’re phuckin special grow up and get a life you sad twunts… Sk8 ? BMX ? Roller Skaters ? Scooters ?
    I bet you think whatever you’re told/read is coool, go and talk to people who don’t have shitty attitudes and have seen BOTH use SB for a long time. And yes I’ve been skating for 32 years so I DO KNOW what I’m talking about… :)

  30. I hope when you all get a bit older you will realaise how stupid and foolish you look, bmx does not affect your attitude, commitments or anyother personality. We’re all the same except from the thing we ride, Do you really think just because we jump on a bmx we become lazy assholes? NO ..we bmxers and skaters are just as bad as each other in different ways…. GROW UP

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