The Rom becomes first listed skatepark in Europe

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The Rom becomes first listed skatepark in Europe

A skatepark in east London became the first in Europe to be listed as a heritage site on Wednesday, after the government decided its concrete bowls and ramps were of national importance and worth protecting.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 29 Oct 2014, 5:39 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 3:47 AM

The Rom skatepark, known as “The Rom”, opened in 1978 as the sport was taking off in Britain and is still popular, used for skateboards as well as BMX bikes and kick scooters.

Modelled on parks in California, it covers an 8,000-square-metre site by the River Rom in Hornchurch, half of which is surfaced in pressurised concrete, known as shotcrete.

It becomes the second skatepark in the world to be listed, after the “Bro Bowl” in Tampa, Florida, was added to the United States’ register of historic places in October 2013.

“Skateboarding is more than a sport: it has become a world-wide cult,” said Roger Bowdler of English Heritage, the body which advises the government on which sites should be listed.

“The Rom is the finest example in England of this aspect of youth culture, and we are delighted its special interest will be protected for future generations through listing.

“It gives the whole idea of heritage an extra twist.”

The work of Adrian Rolt of G-force, the leading skatepark designers of the period, the Rom comprises a series of bowls and hollows of various shapes, including the main “pool”, a slalom run and a half-pipe.

The shapes were inspired by the urban areas used by the US pioneers of skateboarding, including the oval and kidney-shaped swimming pools of rich residents of Los Angeles, and the concrete drainage features of the California coast.

The Grade II listing designates the Rom as of national importance and of special interest, although it is not a guarantee against changes or even demolition in the future.

The Bro Bowl in Tampa is threatened with demolition and relocation to another site as part of a major redevelopment of the surrounding area.

In a statement, Britain’s Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey said the listing “highlights how the UK’s unique heritage reflects all parts of our culture and history”.

“I hope the protection provided by this listing ensures the pool, moguls and snake run can be enjoyed for years to come,” he said.

Earlier this year, the concrete banks at the Southbank arts centre in central London, one of Britain’s best-known skateboarding sites, were saved from demolition after a campaign supported by London mayor Boris Johnson.

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