Thursday, July 25, 2019

Aqua-phobia

We are, as I write this, experiencing the hottest day ever recorded in the UK. Fortunately, Horsham has a fountain, the kind that shoots water up from the pavement at various heights, to please the eye and provide a place for children and the adventurous to frolic and, on a day like today, cool off. Unfortunately, the Horsham District Council decided to celebrate the hottest day ever, by shutting the fountain off.

Horsham's Non-Water Fountain
Their excuse: sunscreen, it might get into the filters, and it might damage them. Also, children might slip.

This might have made sense (well, actually, no, it wouldn’t) but for a few extraneous reasons:

- Fountains in cities all over the world are famously packed with people on hot days. Some of these fountains are hundreds of years old and they all seem to be working fine, and as far as I know, no one has died.

- This particular fountain has been operating fine, even with children gamboling about in it, for several years now. Would another week have hurt? Why shut if off on the hottest day…ever?

No problems  here; must be Horsham-specific.
While it may seem illogical and indefensible (because it is), they did not do it because they hate children (although there is nothing to suggest that they don’t); they did it because they are afraid of water.

This makes perfect sense, when you take this recent move into historical context.

The Shelly Fountain, it was an icon of our town, it put it on the map, it was what people thought of when they thought of Horsham, but the Council shut it down, put a fence around it, left it to rot and then dug it up and made a planter out of it.

Such a joyful fountain...

...left to rot...

...now pushing up birch trees.
The Swans, a much-loved sculpture in the Swan Walk Shopping Mall, depicted swans coming in to land on a sheet of water, about 1-inch deep. There were little jets of water that shot against the swan’s feet, giving the impression of movement. It was a lovely image, until they took the water out and replaced it with glass.

Before

After
There was a water feature in the plaza near the Bishopric, a babbling brook that ran over a waterfall. This was turned off some time ago without funfair or explanation.

No reason. I guess they just didn't like it.
There is also a water fountain that was put in the town during Queen Victoria’s reign. It was restored in 1977 and hasn’t been active for as long as I can remember.

I can't recall ever seeing water in this thing.
And even the town watering trough has been turned into a planter.

Think of the poor cows!
So, you see, the move to turn off the fountain in the plaza was the next logical step toward a water-free town. If you come to visit Horsham now, you will find not a single water feature working. Apparently, this is what the Council is aiming for.

I understand their next move will be to drain the River Arun.

The River Arun, and The Riverside Walk, soon to be The Dried-out Trenchside Walk