Shelley Fountain: Love it or hate it, it’s bust again - scrap it?

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Should Horsham’s most famous landmark be scrapped as the Bishopric and West Street areas are readied for redevelopment?

The Rising Universe water feature is once again not working, and enquiries to Horsham District Council which is responsible for the water feature’s upkeep and maintenance revealed it is currently awaiting repair and replacement parts for a fractured hose.

However, a spokesperson for the council also said: “In view of the financial challenges being faced by Horsham District Council, it is necessary to review all areas of expenditure and options for the future operation of the water features in Horsham town.”

Does this spell the end for the sculpture also known as The Shelley Fountain, commissioned to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Percy Shelley in 1992?

In recent times the moving sculpture, designed by Angela Conner, which releases 6.5 tonnes of gushing water from the giant globe when fully erect, has been blighted with mechanical issues.

It has spent a significant proportion of the past five years non-operational and even fenced off.

But should it be removed? West Street is being ‘re-branded’ and the developer Westrock, subject to planning consent, will be developing a new public realm in the Bishopric, and stripping out the rockery and other water features, as part of the new West End and Waitrose development?

What do you think? Comment below or contact the paper by tweet, email or post to have your say.

Speaking to people near the fountain this week, it remained obvious the controversial landmark still divides opinion.

Mrs Knight, from Crawley, said she think ‘it looks like a poppy’ while another local was much less complimentary saying the feature look like ‘a giant cauliflower’.

Others in Horsham have far more colloquial names for The Rising Universe or Shelley Fountain.

Among those who defended it against possible plans to remove it was Mirek Skibinski, of East End, who said: “It’s a good thing really...you know it’s Horsham.”

Jessica Donne, 17 from Bennetts Road, and Brian Coats agreed with Mr Skibinski.

Miss Donne commented ‘I wouldn’t say I love it’ but said that the fountain ‘should definitely be fixed’ as it has become the ‘statue of

Horsham’.

However, others were far more free with their criticisms, including Mrs Tamplin, from Ryecroft Drive, who said the water feature is ‘the ugliest thing going’.

One regular visitor to Horsham added: “Every time we come here it’s broken.”

Whether or not Horsham District Council elects to remove or keep the landmark though, most people we spoke to believed something needed to replace it.

Mrs Tamplin suggested ‘a nice flower bed’, a move supported by a correspondent to the paper this week.

Andrew White writes: “Even though I dislike it, it is undoubtedly one of Horsham’s most famous landmarks and it would be a shame and a waste of money for it to be removed completely.

“I think therefore that it should be drained, the globe lowered permanently and planting installed where the water used to be.”

Meanwhile, back on the streets Mrs Knight said ‘they could put a lovely statue of a horse’ on the site’.

This would tie in with a new theme for West Street revealed in this week’s paper - see p13.

But what do you think? Have your say and comment below.