Horsham is awash with issues; be they in development, health, hustings, or employment, what caught my attention though was the pairing of problems arising from the support, or lack there of, in two very well established public features.
One is falling to disrepair due to a lack of investment, a lack of interest, and poor publicity, and the other one is a broken down art installation.
Between the Shelley Fountain and the Fountain Inn there are public groups who are keen to see salvation for the objects of their desire; despite facing an almost consistent indifference or investment. One cannot help but wonder if those who start such Facebook pages and launch the email campaigns are experiencing a different Horsham to the rest of us.
A view of Horsham as it was, or as it could be. Maybe we need to borrow a little of that world view to consider the alternative perspectives and to revisit our intentions for these locations.
In the case of public houses, and beer gardens, it appears that interest in drinking at the bar and socialising in such settings may be dwindling; be it to cost of a pint or the possible intimidation of regulars deterring the casual visitor.
It maybe time for public houses to take another leap in purpose and to move beyond the simple pub ambiance to consider their role within our community. For sites such as The Fountain Inn there is a very real opportunity to reinvent its presence on Rusper Road; to offer something altogether different than the usual experiences. Such attempts though will require a commitment to try for the “different” and to accept that failure is always an option.
The alternatives are further flats, houses, and executive landlord opportunities already a consistent experience in our town. Meanwhile the options available to the Shelly Fountain are to remain the anatomically questionable installation constantly rising in conversation and being awash in opinions. As it stands, motionless and pigeon covered, the installation is clearly broken and missing many features.
It cannot be reinvented without being replaced and in doing so we would begin anew the debate as to taste and practicalities which coincidentally are concerns reflected in renovating public houses today. No matter the outcome for lovers of art or ale it is obvious that neither location will be flush with success without investment from a community confident in their delivery.