Friday, May 14, 2010

Balls Up

In the end, apathy and lack of money won the day.

About a year ago, the Shelly Fountain, Horsham’s iconic and vaguely pornographic water feature, fell into such disrepair that it was shut off and left forlornly empty. As time went on, the town polled the citizens to see what they wanted to do with this marvellous work of art that had put Horsham on the map.

The Glory Days.

The response was underwhelming.

I wrote to the local paper stating the case for repairing the fountain, but it appeared I was a lone voice crying in a sea of curmudgeonly complaints. No one, it seemed, had wanted the poxy thing to begin with and they saw this as their chance to get shut of it. A Facebook page dedicated to bringing back the Horsham Christmas lights enjoyed 3,037 supporters; a similar page to show support for the fountain rallied only 315. Condemned by social networking, its fate was sealed; The Council decided it would have to go.

So the great ball was propped up on steel girders and the fountain area surrounded by a metal fence, and there it sat, sad and broken, like a death-row inmate waiting for the padre and warden to lead it on that final walk to the metaphorical gallows. There would be no phone call from the governor.

Waiting for the hangman.

But then a miracle reprieve arrived from an unlikely source: the economy collapsed, austerity budgets were adopted and, when The Council looked into removing it, they found digging it out and paving over the area would actually cost a lot more than fixing it.

Repairs began in March, which The Council made very clear were not paid for out of the district coffers but with grants from the art foundation. The fountain was cleaned and fixed and filled and ready to be re-unveiled at a ceremony during Horsham’s popular English Festival.

At the appointed time, the crowd gathered, the speeches were made, the fountain revived…and shut off due to an electrical fault.

That's all folks...

So now it sits, a little cleaner, but empty, nonetheless, waiting for the repairman.

But at least it’s still here.


  1. Anonymous6:24 PM

    Friday 14/5/10.
    |just been to town today and I can happily report that the ball was working. The waters were flowing

  2. Does this sculpture have a historical or local reference? And who was Shelley anyway? It's amusing that the thing only survived because it was cheaper to preserve it.

  3. Ms Sparrow: Yes. Officially, it is titled Universe Rising, but it is better known as Shelly's Ball. It was put up as a tribute to Percy Bysshe Shelly (who was famous for being the husband of author Mary Shelly who was indirectly responsible for Frankenberry breakfast cereal).

    Shelly was born and grew up in Warnham, near Horsham, so Horsham claims him as their own. Subsequently, the town had this fountain commissioned by Angela Connor. During the debate about whether to save it or not, a story went around that Ms Connor had actually created the sculpture for a different town and, after they refused to buy it, fobbed it off on Horsham.

    I understand there is a bit of truth to that story, which in my view only enhances the fountain's worth as a landmark.

  4. So, do I call you Mr. Viagra or the less formal Generic?

    F&%K off spammer!

  5. 3-G: Thanks, and good luck with it