You Can’t Move History – a film by Winstan Whitter

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Winstan Whitter’s association with Southbank goes back so far that it’s no surprise that he decided to make another documentary on skateboarding’s most famous UK spot. With the recent fight to keep the space in the hands of British skaters, Whitter’s new short web documentary ‘You Can’t Move History‘ looks into the process that saved Southbank from relocation and the communication behind LLSB’s efforts to get the job done.

Get the teas on and look back on an important happening in British skateboarding.

Southbank Centre respond to questions

Photo: Fos by Dom Marley.

The Southbank Centre have answered questions submitted from the many users wondering what exactly will happen when the redevelopment of the Undercroft takes place in the future. The relocation plan is to move skateboarders (bmx’ers, graffiti people, hangers-on, jugglers etc) under the Hungerford Railway Bridge and to retain and enhance the Southbank Centre as the iconic home for urban arts in an even more diverse cultural setting.

There’s a huge amount of information that should be read today from the document that has been released. The answers bring up some interesting responses. Here’s a few that stood out:

CLOSURE: Firstly they expect to have to close the Festival Wing site from autumn 2014 to spring 2017.

CURRENT LOCATION: They have confirmed that the current and legendary skate spot is the most profitable area due to footfall and the main reason they would like to relocate skateboarders is that “Its prominent location makes it the place that most people will first experience the Festival Wing” and that this location is the “most commercially valuable space, the income from which will support commercial loans to pay for the capital cost of the refurbishment.” It’s somehow fitting that timed with the death of Margeret Thatcher only yesterday that privatisation of space reigns over the public use of space. Social viability is once again undercut for economic gain.

RELOCATION: They have “identified the Undercoft under Hungerford Railway Bridge as a possible new location”. There is certainly no alternative location mentioned at all. There are certainly no plans to keep the current area open for skateboarders in 2017.

RELOCATION SIZE: “The Hungerford Bridge Undercroft is roughly similar in area to the current QEH undercroft at 1,000 m2.” The question here is that the original space before it was taken away and boarded up was at least double this size.

HERITAGE CENTER: The history of the Undercroft will be showcased in the new building. “So as part of the co-commissioning process we would like to discuss with the Undercroft users how they would like to tell their story and what special events they would like to hold in the heritage centre to celebrate their continuing contribution to the
Southbank Centre.” This will be a nice touch.

REPORT: There’s too much information to post here but you can download the full PDF report from this question and answer session here and still have your say at www.southbankundercroft.com

The Southbank Centre have called meetings inviting various people to discuss the future of SB but unfortunately they have not issued these with enough notice so far, (i.e 4 days before the Tuesday of a bank holiday) so we are unable to bring you inside knowledge just yet and have still not met the people involved sadly. Hopefully there will be more sessions with decent notice so we can be more involved moving forwards, especially when it comes to events and structure of the new build.
Various Southbank reunions have come on our radar recently too and are currently being arranged on Facebook, so look out for invites.

Remind yourself of some of the historical skate sessions with Tony Luckhurst, Matt Dawson, Jason Maldini, Curtis McCann, Reuben Goodyear, Ben Wheeler and a few other South Bank locals from this footage filmed from 1991.

Discuss the future of Skateboarding at Southbank

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Proposed plans have been unveiled this week in regards to the future of the Southbank. Over £100m is being talked about as a cost to redesign and redevelop the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery all at the same time. Obviously this would impact on London’s most cherished skate spot so where do skateboarders fit into all of this?

Firstly, this spot is the central hub of the London skate scene and has history as long as the Thames itself. Pretty much every pro skateboarder who has flown into Heathrow has graced the infamous concrete banks there since the 1970s, not to mention the huge amounts of UK skaters that have traveled to skate here to register countless tricks and NBD’s into the spot’s history books.

The thought of Southbank not being there at all is absolutely gut-wrenching. Secondly, if approved, the work is said to take between 2-3 years, so where would London’s skateboarders go when it rains? And what happens when BaySixty6’s latest lease runs out after the 2 year contract that was approved for the latest redevelopment there? London is in desperate need of skate spots undercover and fast. If plans are not put into place soon, 2014 could be the worst year on record for London’s skateboarders.

The Guardian has stated this week that “the skateboarders who use the graffitied area on the riverside will have to go somewhere else – possibly under Hungerford Bridge. There will, though, be a place for urban arts – skateboarding, BMX biking and graffiti art – if it is wanted in the new development.”

We have heard today via Marcus Willcocks (part of the team designated to assist skateboarders in the move) that the proposed new space under the Hungerford Bridge would “open significantly before the existing Undercroft space is used for anything else (at least a year before), so if things go as Southbank propose, there would be no ‘void’ of time without a protected area to skate.”

This leads us to the most important points that need to be discussed openly: What do we all want? How can we make sure that our relocation is prioritised? Will the Southbank have a skateboard facility in the new, redesigned area and will we be relocated in the interim period?

Nick Zorlac hucks a fs wallride off the legendary wall. Possibly the very last trick before it was ripped out. – Photo: Styley.

Nick Zorlac, FS wallride grab off. Southbank.

A website launched today by researchers behind the ‘Socially Responsive Design and Innovation Hub’ at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. Marcus Willcocks from the group made contact with us on Monday and has been assigned to liaise with skateboarders to see how we can all work together in the best way possible. The website has been set up so you can voice your wants and needs and also post up your memories of the good times too.

This team will also be at the Southbank to meet people on the following dates to discuss their thoughts. Yep, as you will see, there’s not much in the way of advance warning but still, these are the dates.

Saturday 9th March 12pm-8pm
Sunday 10th March 2pm-7pm
Thursday 14th March 5pm-9pm

It’s best to end this with the fact that Southbank will not be going anywhere just yet, so don’t panic. The first round of funding to raise an initial £20m via the Arts Council has only just been approved. A further application will be made in September this year, so this project is still in its infancy and ongoing. Start thinking about this today though as it will be key to the future of our spot. The Southbank has been a home for Skateboarders forever and long may that continue.

All you need to do is have your say. So visit www.southbankundercroft.com and share this article with every single skateboarder you know today.

Reminisce our events at SB from 2006 and 2007 – pre-HD of course:

Spacial Dependents – Undercroft edit

Hold Tight Henry has released another Spacial Dependents edit featuring footage at the Southbank during the filming sessions with Mekka for the Slam video, City of Rats.

“Determined to give as accurate a snapshot of the scene as possible, the inclusion of such staple figures in London’s skate community was a must. I met him down there late and chilled for a few hour, bunning and reminiscing about the golden years of Shell Center (look out for some bloggage on that front soon) until the place was quiet enough and he set about his work. Mekka is not someone you would fuck with on road; tough and experienced in the most shady of situations, he aproaches his skating much like I imagine he does the rest of his life – by not fucking about.

“He was trying a line ending on a powerful frontside nollie down the bank to flat, a path rarely taken when the infamous 7 set sits right beside it waiting for the lemmings to fall. He landed on every attempt, either buckling under the impact of his epic pop technique or hitting one of the many elevated slabs that litter the roll out. At one point I’m pretty sure he broke or fractured his arm, having already crippled his shoulder and snapped his board. Either way he did not skate after this night for a good month or so after getting a cast on it. But before that he just drank some beer, smoked a joint and ploughed through the pain until he rode out a few goes later, the results are one of my favourite clips from the video.”

Spatial Dependents – Mekka – The Undercroft from HOLD TIGHT LONDON on Vimeo.

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.

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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.