Birmingham’s iconic water feature – The River – was officially switched back on in Victoria Square in the city centre. The fountain has been repaired and refurbished as part of a £12.395m city centre public realm scheme – the first phase of which has seen improvements to Victoria Square.
Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Muhammad Afzal, and the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward both led a countdown before water flowed from The Goddess to the lower pool for the first time since 2013. Dhruva Mistry’s creation, which was installed as part of the pedestrianisation of Victoria Square in 1993, was intended to instil a feeling of ‘peace and safety’ in the public space.
Cllr Ward, Leader of the city council, said: “It is my absolute pleasure to welcome back Birmingham’s beloved water feature. We’re looking forward to a fantastic summer with the Commonwealth Games and a golden decade for the city, this is a great way to start that journey.
“Our city centre welcomes more than 42 million people a year – and following the regeneration of Centenary Square and Paradise, it’s time for the business and retail areas to be revitalised. Improving the public spaces around the city centre will enable us to offer a world-class welcome to all those coming here to enjoy Birmingham 2022 – and we are ready to show the world how brilliant our city is.”
During the first phase of the scheme, The Goddess – who had been in her ‘bath’ for 28 years – was sent away on a six month ‘spa break’ to ensure she was cleaned and restored, ready to spend many more years in the water.
Birmingham Museums Trust, responsible for the care and maintenance of public art on behalf of Birmingham City Council, liaised directly with the contractor throughout these works to ensure best practice. These works also include improved connectivity by pedestrianising areas of Colmore Row and Waterloo Street as well as the installation of permanent security features to ensure a safe and accessible area for all.