Now, if they could only get rid of the dirty pigeons! When I lived in London, I'd pass through the square en route to Embankment tube station to catch a Circle Line train for the ride home, stopping occasionally to watch one of the many demonstrations taking place.
... As Joel Schobs, the engineer in a chlorine-scented lair deep beneath the square's flagstones, cranked up the pressure and eased open valves that had been closed for a lifetime, the plume in the western fountain gradually and almost imperceptibly rose.
Within a minute it was visibly taller than its twin. Within two it was high enough to splash the bronze cloak of General Charles Napier. Within five it was a spurting glory, 35 feet high – higher than anyone has seen it in at least 30 years and probably twice as long as that. The ducks that arrive every summer from nearby St James's Park quacked ecstatically.
"Not bad, is it?" said Richard Genn, who is in charge of the square for the Greater London Authority and has supervised a year-long £190,000 project to restore the fountains to their intended glory. ...
The original Victorian fountains had nothing to do with beauty and everything to do with reducing the amount of open space and the risk of riotous assembly. The police post concealed inside a granite column in the corner, often wrongly called the smallest police station in London, was added in the great depression of the 1930s: it was linked directly to Scotland Yard and has slots through which the solitary occupant could fire on any rioters.
[Photograph: Zak Hussein/PA]
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