Last Orders at Lucian Hendrick’s

Text by Jono Coote

Photos by Alex Irvine

Read more in our Lucian Hendricks Made of Stone feature.

Head out into the suburbs of South London, roughly between Brixton and Clapham, and you will quickly enter a maze of back roads and identical houses easy to lose yourself in. This is suburban London proper, with the occasional shop but little waste ground or private space besides the houses themselves. While travelling (a fair distance) further South will bring you to industrial estates and rubble-strewn corners ripe for a guerrilla spot build, this part of the city seems to offer little opportunity for the budding DIY enthusiast. Thus, over the summer, it came as a surprise to head between two particular houses, past a small front garden and mattresses left out for the bin men and be greeted by the incongruous sight of a vert ramp.

Last Orders at Lucian’s

Ben Raemers picks his nose on a tree branch jutting handily from the platform

Built by 80s vert pro Lucian Hendricks and Stockwell local James ‘Stuntman’ Brann in a communal garden shared with other local residents, the ramp was a testament to what can be achieved with a combination of drive and ingenuity. The two scrounged wood and materials from wherever they could, eventually getting together enough to start building just as the weather started to improve. Realising after the first attempt that the ramp was too thin, they were forced to extend it around a nearby tree – the reason for the elbow you see in the photos and footage below. This was a far cry from the gleaming 14ft indoor vert ramps which have seen the next generation of vert foetuses spinning out 540s as a warm up trick; rather it was a throwback to the backyard ramps of the mid-80s. Standing at nine foot high, with unexpected kinks and holes which regularly need fixing, it took a few sessions to work out how to skate it and kicked the shit out of more than one person who got too comfortable.

Jake Snelling, classic invert shapes

While Lucian and his kids Caire and Akin hit the ramp hard all summer, visitors were surprisingly infrequent until the week these photos came from. An upsurge in interest saw various people heading through, but for the unfortunate reason of it being the last week of the ramp’s existence. If you build it they will come; but when you have an irate yuppie neighbour to contend with the council will also come, and they will bring notices to tear down the structure forthwith or risk a court summons.

Deciding that the ramp needed to be made the most of, we organised two sessions at the ramp’s leafy location. Tuesday saw a crew gathering at Stockwell Skatepark in a surprise sunny day amongst the gloom which bookended it – a good omen for the session ahead. The buzz was palpable, as a group who were no strangers to Stockwell skated it like it was a surprise find on the first day of the trip. We had time to kill before anyone was home at the ramp so everyone limbered up with coffee and beer to help lubricate synapses and joints. Getting to the ramp at 3, the session kicked in straight away with those who were keen for it. The two Jakes (Collins and Snelling) hit it hard with airs and lip tricks and Stevie Thompson, who’d already nabbed a couple of Stockwell NBD’s to add to his list, carried on shredding straight to the larger transitions. Lucian went on the daily school run while everyone got their tricks in then came back, padded up and showed us how it was done; big backside airs and solid inverts on lock fired the stoke hard, while the young Hendricks’ were charging straight behind him.

The first one to eye up the tree, Jake Collins threw down a backside boneless in no time

Friday was, if anything, looking to be an even bigger session – Stockwell was once again the meeting point and was full of people getting their legs going by the time I got there. We gradually headed to the ramp in dribs and drabs, with another day of good weather making a good days’ shredding highly likely. Add in Ben Raemers, Sam Beckett, Jordan Thackeray, Jake Collins back for round two, Taylor Jones and more and that was guaranteed. Everyone was warming up fast, even despite some mid-session ramp repairs – which were ably handled by Lucian, a hammer and nails and some wood filler. DIY at its finest…Once that was out the way things properly got going. Beckett kept it mellow but still handled the ramp with ease, big airs and back smiths as a standard, while Jake was charging as hard as the first session. In fact, he was the first to start eyeing up the gnarled tree branch growing through one of the platforms and sitting tantalisingly close to the lip…in short order he’d kicked a backside boneless into Mother Nature’s face, while Raemers and Jordan added injury to injury with a nosepick and a texas plant respectively. Back to the coping and Taylor Jones was able to perform bastard plants on request, Lucian tweaked a smithvert and Jordan’s lengthy runs were a spontaneous pleasure to watch. We carried on to a nearby pub to cut the adrenalin rush with booze (it didn’t work for Taylor and Jordan, who were still shredding House of Vans well into the evening), stoked that we’d got the chance to skate the kind of spot which has been becoming rarer and rarer since the very early 90s.

Me, slob plant

After leaving the endangered ramp on Tuesday evening we stopped briefly at Stockwell, but the night had become cold. We decided to head to Brixton’s legendary Queens Head pub, only to be told that it has been shut down. Meanwhile up the road, the Windmill is being advertised as for sale. The future of Stockwell Skatepark itself is not entirely certain, with the yuppie flats being built up next to it threatening to encroach the green space adjacent all the way to the park’s limits. The march of gentrification carries on building momentum, and in its wake lies the community spirit it replaces. Sometimes the only way to respond is to take things into your own hands, like with Lucian, Stuntman and their ramp – the council’s clamping down on a backyard labour of love will, in an ideal world, end with the ramp rebuilt, reinforced and safely ensconced in one of South London’s many public parks. If it does not, then it’s probably time to take matters back into our own hands…

Jordan Thackeray killed it all day, then at House of Vans all evening. Texas on a tree.


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