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June 2010 

Shelley Fountain
Updated April 2014

Since it was erected at Lynd Cross in 1996 the Rising Universe has polarised views. When working as it should it was undoubtedly impressive and gave many people, particularly children, a lot of fun. It also featured in a montage of local images to introduce the BBC regional TV news.

But from the start it was been dogged with problems. It underwent a major overhaul in 2005 which was supposed to ensure its continued reliability yet it spent 2009 propped on a beam surrounded by temporary fencing while the Council decided whether to spend a further substantial sum needed to repair the hydraulics.

The District Council consulted the public over three options: repair it, lock the mechanism in a static position, or remove it altogether. The Society view was that it should either be fully repaired or removed and replaced with a new public art feature preferably with moving water partly funded through public subscription.

In the event the Council decided on repair and the feature was reopened in May 2010.  Unfortunately by August the sculpture again failed; this time we understand due to a faulty weld.

By March 2011 the sculpture was working to restricted hours and on a slower cycle.  Then it failed again.  Drained of water it was a sad sight and a blight on this area of the town.

The developers of the new Waitrose site in Albion Way, and the Council, want to revamp the pleasant landscaped area to the west of the fountain. We say this is unnecessary and any money that is available should be spent on Lynd Cross and replacing the Shelley Fountain with a more suitable piece of high quality public art, preferably with moving water.

In June 2016 the Council finally removed the ball and stem, leaving the splash bowl into which have been planted 16 slender Silver Birch trees, pending agreement over a more permanent scheme. The result is much better than looking at a broken fountain, and once adjacent building work is completed it will look very effective.