The Undercroft, nestled under the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the world famous Southbank in London, saw the birth of British skateboarding in the 1970s and is now the world’s longest continually skated street spot.
However in 2013, skateboarding on the site came under threat from redevelopment of shops and restaurants as part of Southbank Centre’s festival wing extension project.
The Long Live Southbank community formed quickly to save the skate space and in July 2017 campaigning for the restoration project and a legal guarantee for the Undercroft’s long-term future formally began.
The prospect of losing this nationally important skate space in the heart of the capital, which is a hub for aspiring beginners as well as veterans, inspired The London Marathon Charitable Trust to provide a £200,000 grant for the project.
Less than two years later, Long Live Southbank alongside Southbank Centre successfully secured the £1.1 million in funding required to begin construction.
As well as extensive renovations, the construction project opened up more than 400m2 of new space enabling more people to enjoy skateboarding, BMXing, roller sports, dance, street art and free running in central London.
The Trust’s £200,000 contribution helped to protect and regenerate the space but also to introduce a free Skate School for kids on Saturday mornings for three years with the aim to encourage more children, especially young girls, to give skate sports a go for the first time.
The new, extended area of the Undercroft is away from the public eye making it more appealing to those who are new to skate sports. According to Long Live Southbank, more women and girls are making use of the space as a result.
Stuart Maclure, Long Live Southbank, said: "Following the completion of the Southbank Undercroft restoration project the space has seen immediate increase in people coming down at all hours of the day.
“It’s been terrific to see the restored little banks bringing in more beginners and women to enjoy the space and we’ve also seen more people coming down to try out roller blading, BMXing and graffiti.
“Thanks to The Trust, Long Live Southbank's free Skate Schools have been a great way to introduce more young people to skateboarding and have been really popular.”
Sarah Ridley, Chief Grants Officer for The London Marathon Charitable Trust, said: “The Southbank Undercroft is a London institution and has provided generations of local people and visitors with a free and accessible space to be active.”
“One of the aims of this regeneration project was to support more young people to become more physically active, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is synonymous with The Trust’s overall vision to inspire activity.
“We are delighted to see the immediate impact that this grant is having on young people’s health and we look forward to seeing London’s local community and visitors to the Southbank benefiting for many more generations to come.”
Since 1981, The London Marathon Charitable Trust has awarded grants totalling more than £86 million to 1,400+ organisations in London, Surrey and other areas.