Saturday 14 March 2015

Further thoughts on the Mazda fountain.

Photo: Jax Atkins
Rivetted boilerplate would not normally be the material of choice for a public art work but the original purpose of the Mazda fountain was promotional. It was designed to flaunt the virtuosity of electric lighting in general, and Mazda equipment in particular, at an exhibition. On being transplanted to Brighton  it continued to do this to great effect as many Brightonians and long-standing residents will recall. The dancing jets illuminated from below by ever-colour-changing lighting redeemed, to considerable extent, its industrial appearance.

It is understandable therefore that the recently mooted suggestion for its removal as part of a Valley Gardens regeneration scheme has produced some strong reactions from those who already feel too much of familiar Brighton is being lost.

However longevity would not have been a concern of the original designers. The lighting was perforce housed in watertight chambers and the performance of insulation and sealants available in the 1920s would not compare with modern standards. Degradation is inevitable in such an item. After several intermittent and only temporary repairs the lighting systems were finally  removed on safety grounds in the 1990s. 

The cost of installing a new safe lighting system in such an ageing steel structure would surely be prohibitively high and the money better spent on commissioning a site-specific water-feature. A feature that, like the Victoria Fountain with its dolphins in the Old Steine, makes an aesthetically relevant  yet contemporary statement about the City.


  1. Oqh, I disagree with the fact that it would be prohibitively high to install a new lighting system - not in these days of LED lights & mcroelectronics. But before that, I still think it is worthwhile looking at the old lighting system & reappraising was a simple mechanical light-changing mechanism which had not much to go wrong. Maybe the Mazda-type bulbs could be replaced with LEDs . It is something that needs to be looked into before any decision is made.

  2. I agree low-voltage LED lighting would be the only way to go. But how much life is left in the ironwork? Look at the expensive problem of maintaining the seafront railings.

  3. Preserve it all costs. It's a part of odd, mysterious, quirky true Brighton and when working properly is very beautiful. If there are funds to rejig and modern-style Valley Gardens then there must be money to restore and get it working again. Such original, authentic Brighton features should be valued and cared about. Without them it won't be Brighton anymore. As to materials for sculptures .... !!!! .... this is the age of anything can be a work of art!


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