There are four stages to the lifespan of Britain’s sh*ttest tourist attraction. First there was the glamour and excitement when it was announced, along with glossy CGI renders that promised a true landmark. Then there was the general dismay, ridicule at the finished product, followed by a long period when everyone basically forgot about it. And now there’s the demolition, as the £6m folly is finally scrubbed from our collective memories. Rest In Peace, dear Mound.
It all started so well, Westminster Council decided that they wanted to make a big splash to get tourists and shoppers back into the West End. And rather than directly help struggling shops, or make material changes that might make it easier for covid-conscious customers, like maybe suspending the congestion zone to allow them to drive in, the council responded in the most rational way possible. By commissioning a whopping great burial mound style edifice at Marble Arch. Nobody quite understood why, but councillors were anxious to point out that it was a bargain at just six £mil…
The pretty renders were promising, too. The stylish creation had the potential to completely change what has always been a bit of a funny space, the roundabout where things get sort of left to be forgotten (Marble Arch itself was meant to be in front of Buckingham Palace before it was relegated to this funny spot at the top of Park Lane).
The pretty renders were promising, too...
But as the scaffolding went up and the project took shape, excitement gave way to dismay, puzzlement and general ‘er, what the actual flip, guys?’
The mound was roundly mocked for being, well, rubbish.
The hillside, with it’s lack of greenery and unnerving angles could not be further from the promises made by Westminster Council and was a complete failure.
The mound was roundly mocked for being, well, rubbish...
Which is a setback given this was meant to be the attraction that would somehow (and this bit was never quite explained) lead to more shoppers on Oxford Street.
The resulting ridicule led the council to apologise, sacrifice a mid-ranking official and make ascending the hill free for a period (did we mention it was eight quid to go up?)
And that’s when everyone basically forgot about it. We had a pandemic to focus on and, well, that was that.
Did we perhaps start to actually... like it?
But then a funny thing happened (I mean, another funny thing), did we perhaps start to actually… like it? Passing the thing on the bus from time to time you’d be reminded of its existence, and in a sort of British tradition of finding victory in failure perhaps it sort of grew on us? It was a laughing stock, but as Londoners it was OUR laughing stock. Like when Boris was mayor.
And although nobody actually bothered to really go up it (and those that did were generally disappointed as it wasn’t high enough to see anything interesting) it was, in its own way, a landmark.
The final day of operation was yesterday and today they start to tear the thing down (which shouldn’t take too long). A petition to save the mound experienced a rush of signatures, topping out at 95 signees by yesterday lunchtime.
Perhaps they could’ve left it there and it would, in time, be one of those temporary structures that becomes permanent, like the Millennium Wheel or the Eiffel Tower.
We’ll never know, but farewell dear Mound. Maybe we’ll miss you…