Please scroll to the bottom of this article to read the account of the recent Steering Group meeting held at StayCity Aparthotel on Thursday 19th October 2023. URGENT REQUEST for anyone who might have an early colour photo, slide or transparency of the fountain that could be shared with us as an aid to understanding better the exact design and colour scheme of the fountain when first inaugurated. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
There continues to be much interest in the Bucket Fountain (or Piazza Fountain to give it its full title!) and there is a Task Force led by Merseyside Civic Society that is meeting regularly to progress the expressed wish of so many citizens to see this wondrous kinetic fountain fully restored and enjoyed by new generations.
There is a lovely video produced by The Modernist about the Fountain which is well worth watching:
Conversations with the National Lottery Heritage Fund are on-going and have been very helpful in orienting us to resolve the outstanding issues about ownership and future maintenance to be ready to apply for funding to support the restoration.
Some of you might be interested in the Survey Report delivered by Clancy Consulting about options for the refurbishment and restoration: Kinetic Fountain Survey Report June 2023
There is also slide presentation prepared by Dr Richard Moore about the refurbishment proposals: Restoration Options v3 and below is the same presentation but with a video of the fountain in operation embedded in the slides:
A fuller version of the above prepared by Dr Richard Moore and called A Waterfall of a Strange New Kind can be studied here: Fountain Restoration Options Full Report
UPDATE on the width of the Piazza Fountain pool wall prepared by Dr Richard Moore: Receiving Pool Wall Width Report
An option that we like is to use Welsh slate in the refurbishment to enhance the fountain’s connection to Wales and its Welsh designer Richard Huws: Fountain Tiled Finishes Options
Update: 9th September 2023
We have been exploring options to make the refurbished fountain net zero and Dr Richard Moore has drawn up a discussion document to look at the possibilities for a more sustainable fountain operation. You can read the document here: Piazza Fountain Renewable Energy Options
Many of you might appreciate understanding more of the links that the fountain has with Liverpool’s slave trade and the best interpreter of this is the famous Liverpool historian Dr Laurence Westgaph. You can follow his comments about the original Goree street name and Goree Warehouses at 11.30mins and the Goree Fountain from 16.00mins to 20.10mins:
Update: 19th October 2023 steering group meeting
A meeting of the Piazza Fountain Steering Group, which hadn’t met for some time due to the covid pandemic and the difficulty of resolving some of the background questions, was organised for 6–7:30pm, Thursday 19th October 2023, at StayCity Aparthotel, Drury Lane. Report follows:
Present were the Chair of Engage Liverpool Gerry Proctor, and Pam Wilshire from Merseyside Civic Society (MCS), alongside the two local councillors Nick Small and Christine Banks, as well as a resident from Beetham Plaza Sheila Lane, and one from Strand Plaza Tony Folan. It was disappointing that others from the mailing list were unable to be present, two of whom sent apologies. Despite the poor turnout the meeting was very productive.
Firstly it was required to register in the account of the meeting a statement from Liverpool City Council that Councillor Small “was attending the meeting in his capacity as one of the councillors for City Centre North and not as Cabinet Member for Growth and Economy, and that he has no authority to make any commitments on the Council’s behalf, especially but not limited to on any development control or conservation issues and that he will feed back on the outcomes from the meeting to relevant council officers”.
The meeting started with updates from Engage and MCS about the latest conversations with the leaseholder and with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). An Expression of Interest was submitted by MCS to HLF and the feedback was very helpful. It is expected that we will need to find in the region of £350-400k to fully refurbish the Fountain. But first we need to clarify the question of the relationship between the monument and its ownership. This was made clear in the fact that the bid was not submitted by the owners but by concerned citizens.
As a result a conversation was held with the leaseholder Elliot Group’s (EG) Elliot Lawless and MCS and Engage. That was extremely positive and a willingness was expressed to support the efforts to refurbish the Fountain. Follow-up conversations with the Council are still on-going and this meeting was helpful in identifying the options to be considered by everyone.
- Option One: A partnership agreement between LCC and EG which has the challenge of due-diligence needing to be done by all partners to the agreement.
- Option Two: That LCC might attempt to renegotiate the lease with EG and take the Fountain back into public ownership which has the challenge of future maintenance costs being prohibitive given the current economic climate.
- Option Three: Explore a Community Asset Transfer to an independent group which has the challenge of the difficulty of establishing such a group and the virtual impossibility of commercialising the fountain.
Further discussions are now on-going to see if these issues can be resolved. It was also mentioned about asking United Utilities to enter into a partnership with the Steering Group to get their support for the water fountain refurbishment and to request some funding to support the process.
Should we be able to progress the ownership question to the satisfaction of the HLF we will need to evidence a Community Engagement Programme, an Education Programme and an Events Programme – all of which require more volunteers and citizen commitment than we currently have. MCS has suggested to HLF that we could offer Training to local ‘White Badge’ Guides once there is a pathway to full refurbishment.
In the meantime we are pushing ahead with studies and research to find the best way to restore the mechanism of the fountain. We already have completed a Feasability Study and a Structural Engineer’s Report paid for with the crowd-funding support by ordinary citizens. We are also looking into designing an Information Board to put up at the site which would include some exploration of the links to Liverpool’s historic connections to the slave trade.
You can also find out more information directly from Merseyside Civic Society on their dedicated page: MCS webpage where you can also find a link to contribute financially to the support of the restoration project.