Water Turn Off

Photo: Graham Dolan

One of the most common things that crops up in the Phantom Postbag is the ‘water feature’ in Cutty Sark Gardens which, frankly, has to be one of the least-exciting fountains in the universe. Most of the time it looks like the photo above, but on high days and holidays it occasionally gets some fluid in it. Here it is in full, glorious, gushing flow:

Photo: Jeremy Eaton

Now I absolutely love fountains, water features, cascades, waterfalls – anything to do with decorative, tinkling ornamental displays. I always thought that given the choice I’d go for a water feature every time but this is not what I expected when they said we were getting one at Cutty Sark Gardens. I knew it wouldn’t be Versailles but I did expect SOME water.

When I walked past the other day with a visitor, which must have been the same day Jeremy took his pic, my pal thought there was a leak somewhere. Except, of course, water main leaks actually have some poke to them and given past experience last longer than a few hours.

Trouble is, when the thing’s switched off, it leaves weird lumps, bumps and cracks in the pavement, which some have complained is a trip-hazard. The council’s answer to potential court-cases is to cordon it off with scruffy bits of tape and a few metal fences. Classy.

Photo: Graham Dolan

Personally I don’t buy the trip-hazard thing, being a Phantom that believes in individuals actually taking responsibility for their own safety, but really – is this the best Greenwich could do for its shop window? Cutty Sark Gardens cost a packet and though I do like the little bits of greenery they’ve dotted around the place, I find myself wondering if the whole is really much better than what it replaced – and whether that water feature was worth bothering with at all.


the attachments to this post:

Photo: Graham Dolan
water feature Graham Dolan 2

Photo: Jeremy Eaton
water feature jeremy

Photo: Graham Dolan
water feature Graham Dolan 1


14 Comments to “Water Turn Off”

  1. JR says:

    If that’s a trip hazard then I’m a monkey’s uncle! I’ve got a spare 50cl bottle of Evian – I’m sure that’s all it’ll take to refill the water(less) feature.

  2. Boogie Bear says:

    Water on or off as installations go it’s a cross between a badly laid pavement and a drainage issue.

    I’m a creative and love originality but as this one goes it’s silly.

    It speaks volumes (forgive the pun) that the council are citing the “trip hazard” line after the thing has been installed.

  3. Tina Lewis says:

    Tape and metal barriers? What a shoddy solution!

  4. Daveh48 says:

    A lady had a nasty fall there a few weeks back which resulted in the yellow hazard tape and metal railings but they were taken away during the festival.

    Lets face it that whole area is a bit of an accident waiting to happen – thinking about the person who broke their leg on the shallow steps. That resulted in black tape, which is now wearing away, being put along the edges of them.

    Perhaps some sections of low wall running along each side to match the flower beds would bring it to the attention of people walking around and would also add some extra seating. Either that or just level it off and be done with it.

    I agree with you Phantom that people should look where they are going but in this day and age of the “Injury Claims” mentality councils and the like have to cover themselves.

  5. Stephen says:

    I thought there was going to be much more greenery. It is still in essence a concrete jungle and as you say not much better than it was.

  6. Simon says:

    I actually tripped there !!
    When it first opened I was carrying my newborn in my arms, and stubbed my toe on the raised bits and nearly fell over.
    - I now know better, but unfortunately it is a trip hazard.

    Next we’ll get slime on it (when its working) and some kid will brain themselves – just like the Diana fountains.

    I dont know its point. Maybe to break up the expanse of tile.

  7. Crossfields says:

    When the water is running the stupid half inch steps are much more obvious, since the shallow water reflections indicate a change or refraction in surface levels. When it is not (most of the time) it is a total trip hazard for anyone with sight difficulties. It was always an accident waiting to happen. A stupid and meaningless design if the water is not there.

    There is more of a water feature when it rains, and all the rainwater gathers in the western end of the Cutty Sark surrounds to create quite a pond. Am pretty sure this feature was not designed in.

    The barriers are ugly. A pretty poor show all round. Tourism figures for Cutty Sark aren’t that great, they’ll be even less with that eyesore.

    Simple solution, run the water, no need to build a wall!

  8. Michael says:

    I’ve got to admit that I’ve tripped a few times…and I do look where I’m going. The problem is the steps are neither here nor there. Not convinced the solution is fencing it off though.

  9. Fatty Fatty BumBum says:

    Some expert probably got paid a fortune to design that, what is probably the worlds worst water feature. It looks like dodgy paving when off and a leak when on. Why turn it off anyway??

    Together with the Nandos and the glasshouse around the Cutty Sark, whoever came up with this whole area should be held accountable for doing such a terrible job.

  10. LW says:

    So how come the water feature in Woolwich centre is so much better and always has water and no one seems to trip, complain about that?

  11. Mr. H says:

    Even I (who is careful where i walk and believe more people should take personal responsibility in where they are going) tripped over on that pathetic water feature!
    The problem is much worse at night time. Yes it may only be the slightest of steps, but if you don’t know it’s there then you are likely to get caught out.

    I guess people see the rest of the area and it’s a smooth surface and assume it’s all like that and never would think there’s a crappy water feature up ahead that never seems to have the water running!

    Typical of the council, wasting tax payers money on a rubbish design feature that nobody (as far as i know) requested, is rubbish if and when it does function and is quite dangerous!

    If it was a small business or a resident who wanted to do something, there would be a long list of health and safety regulations to overcome!
    The irony!

  12. Mr. H says:

    In response to LW:

    My guess of why there isn’t as many problems with the Woolwich Water feature, is that is actually has water running (every time i’ve gone there), so you can hear it up ahead, and the design means it isn’t blended as much into the middle of a public walkway. It’s one big square of water with more visual clues (small block walls etc). Compare that to numerous rows using levels blended in the flooring in the middle of a walkway of the Greenwich feature.

  13. 58frankh says:

    Of course it’s a trip hazard. If a Phantom acquaintance had tripped over an equal sized raised pavement slab (and not even looking upwards at ancient rigging at the time)I bet you would have taken a different line.

  14. Actually I take much the same line with paving slabs.