Long Live Southbank by Paula G.
As a tourist when you visualize London, you think of mainstream iconic landmarks like The Houses of Parliament, Big Ben (St Stephen’s Tower), Buckingham Palace to name a few. There is though a place that is steep in history, culture and the embodiment of London life. A place I visit frequently, anyone who lives in London knows about the Southbank. The vast array of cafes, the National Theatre, not to mention the London Eye. If you walk along the river front you’re greeted by vendors, street acts of every kind all trying to attract the surge of tourists that frequent the area. As a Londoner I’m always amazed at what I see, I love this part of London because of its love for community living.
The riverside walk will also bring you to a special place, quite different from the other attractions. In the 1970’s the Southbank undercroft was a place of shelter for the homeless, However this partly subterranean space soon became a center for graffiti artists, skateboarders and freestyle cyclists.
Everyone and anyone who wanted to skateboard, meet other artists maybe hold events would visit the undercroft. It is a place of inspiration, bursting with the creativity of the many voices that stamp their mark on this cultural landmark. Unfortunately it is now being threatened of closure, in April 2013 the Southbank Center proposed the development of the area for commercial units. A group was formed to oppose this development, they are called Long Live Southbank. Amazingly they have the backing of the local council, the Mayor of London and many celebrities. Thousands of people have signed the petition to oppose the redevelopment of the undercroft. Here are just a few of the quotes supporting this petition.
“The skate park is the epicenter of UK skateboarding and is part of the cultural fabric of London. This much-loved community space has been used by thousands of young people over the years. It attracts tourists from across the world and undoubtedly adds to the vibrancy of the area – it helps to make London the great city it is.” – Boris Johnson “I urge you to please preserve the integrity of Southbank, a sanctuary for skateboarders, and an important piece of London history.” – Tony Hawk “Southbank is the oldest surviving skateboard spot in the world and hailed as the birthplace of British skateboarding. This space has empowered generations of physical, visual and collaborative expression and informed and directed the lives of people from all walks of life. This world famous landmark and cultural icon must be preserved for future generations to flourish.” – Henry Edwards-Wood.
If you would like to pledge your support by signing the online petition here is the link for their Change.org campaign. Also have a look at their website ‘Long Live Southbank’ if you want to find out more plus keep up to date with their progress.