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Secrets of London : The Jubilee Boneyard

On the south bank of the Thames, London's historic artery of ancient commerce, drowned secrets, and furious tourism is an unnamed bunker (sometimes called The Undercroft) sheltering a vibrant counter-culture mix of street art and skateboarding. 


the undercroft

Recognisable to any Londoner, a constant source of fascination for visitors and locals alike, as the ebb and flow of onlookers watch a mix of skilled pros, fearless pretenders, and hesitant noobs tussle with the boundary of how far something (a leg, and arm, a board) can bend, or how hard it can be stomped, before it hurts too much, or worse, before it snaps.

When the Bankside skate park claims a board for good, when it decides that no, today you do not get to bounce back, the rider and her procession will carry the once carefully aged and beaten plank to a leeway on the nearby Jubilee footbridge.

the jubilee bridge

No ceremony is given, no speeches are made. Smiles are shared and maybe some word are spoken to cut the tension. It is a fleeting but solemn occasion. 

The board, sometimes in pieces - always irreparable, is thrown on to the grim, inaccessible concrete bridge support below.  It is launched on to this island, not quite set adrift like a viking funeral, not quite buried like a brother. It is an open tomb watched over not by ravens, but by gulls.

When you pass along the bridge, look over the sides and you'll find the boneyard. A reminder to the riders across the way that nothing is forever, and that we must not fear the ramps nor the launches, we must not shy from the falls. We needn't be ashamed of our shins, our scrapes, our scars.

We must live fully today, for tomorrow we may break. 

the boneyard

PS: The Undercroft is currently under threat from development. It would be a shame for this colourful part of the capital to be whitewashed and converted in to retail space. You can find out about the effort to save the area at