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British skatepark becomes first in Europe to get heritage status

Rom skatepark is now officially deemed of national importance and of special interest, by the Department for Culture Media and Sport. Credit: PA

As far as Britain's Grade II listed status goes, Rom skatepark in Hornchurch, east London, has has to be one of the most unexpected spaces to be awarded the honour.

The concrete facility, built in 1978 at the peak of skateboarding's popularity has today been given listed status by the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

It is the first skatepark in Europe and only the second in the world to be given heritage status.

ITV News' Duncan Golestani reports:

Spanning 8,000 square metres, it is one of the country's few original skateparks from the 1970s, after most were demolished when the sport's popularity dipped.

Now, its elaborate half-pipe, moguls and special skating pool are protected in recognition of its cultural importance to youth culture in the UK.

Heritage Minister Ed Vaizey said: "The Rom was built in the late seventies 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."

Skateboarding is more than a sport: it has become a world-wide cult.

The Rom is the finest example in England to 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.

– Roger Bowdler, designation director at English Heritage

Author Simon Inglis added: "Skateboarding has now been part of the nation's recreational life for over 35 years, since it arrived in Britain from California at the height of the 1970s. Some of the pioneers are now grandparents, passing on their skills and enthusiasm to the next generation.

"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, and has received a real boost thanks to the growing number of BMX bikers, who now shares the facilities at most skateparks."

Last October the Bro Bowl in Tampa, Florida, achieved listed status when it was added to the USA's National Register of Historic Places.