London skatepark to be given listed status by culture department

Rom Skatepark in east London has become the first in Europe to be given listed status.

The Rom - picture from Played in London by Simon Inglis
The Rom - picture from Played in London by Simon Inglis

The Grade II listing by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of English Heritage reflects its importance to British skate culture as well as the classic lines of its pool, moguls, snake run and half-pipe.

‘The Rom’ as it is commonly known, was built in Hornchurch in 1978 by Adrian Rolt and G-Force, the leading skatepark designers of the period, and is the best example of a small number of skateparks that still survive from the early heyday of the skateboarding boom in the UK.

Heritage Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: "The Rom was built for the very first skateboarders and is as popular now as it was then. Its listing at Grade II is testament to its design and also 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."

It is only the second in the world for a skatepark after the "Bro Bowl" in Tampa, Florida, added to the USA's National Register of Historic Places in October 2013.

Designation director at English Heritage Roger Bowdler said: "Skateboarding is more than a sport: it has become a world-wide cult. The Rom is the finest example in England of this aspect of youth culture."

Sports Historian Simon Inglis, whose research work on the park, in the London Borough of Havering, for his new book Played in London was used in the decision, said: "Lots of people thought that like Chopper bikes and Space Hoppers the fad would soon pass, but as we can see in London alone, where there are at least 75 skateparks currently in use, skateboarding is still as cool as ever.

"I think it is wonderful that not only has English Heritage supported the research and publication of Played in London, but that it is also taking practical steps to protect this amazing piece of late 20th century heritage in Hornchurch."

The Rom takes up 8000 m², in a corridor of green land, next to the River Rom from which the skatepark takes its name. The central 4,000m² is surfaced in shotcrete, with a series of bowls and hollows of various shapes let into its surface. Today it is used for a mixture of skateboards, BMXs and kick scooters.

Inglis added: "I really hope that 'the Rom' will now become a place of pilgrimage for young skateboarders wanting to learn more about the sport's early days, and have a brilliant time while doing so."


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