Wed, Jan 12, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Princess Di fountain shut

ONGOING PROBLEMSEngland's only memorial to the late Princess Diana -- which has been called a `sewage works' -- closed down for repairs again

An ill-fated and costly fountain in central London commemorating Princess Diana closed to the public on Monday for further repair work due to take four months, officials said.

The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, which has already been shut twice for repairs since it was inaugurated last July, will officially re-open on May 1, said Royal Parks, which manages Hyde Park where the site is located.

The work will enable wheelchair access, improve drainage and replace the existing lawn with one better adapted to the huge number of visitors to the site, which welcomed up to 5,000 tourists an hour last summer.

The shallow granite oval channel filled with running water was intended as both memorial and play area, allowing visitors -- especially children -- to splash around inside the fountain's flow.

The fountain, designed by US architect Kathryn Gustafson, was however plagued with problems after being opened by Queen Elizabeth on July 6, with drains blocked by leaves just two days after the water was switched on.

The site was then closed down in late July after a series of visitors lost their footing on the slippery stone surface and fell, injuring themselves.

Even when fully functional, the ?3.6 million (US$6.5 million) water sculpture suffered harsh criticism, with the British press dismissing it as a "puddle."

Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of the department store Harrods, whose son Dodi died in the same car crash that killed Diana, said it resembled "a sewage works."

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