Marble Arch Mound: Campaign launched to save London’s ‘worst’ tourist attraction

Tongue-in-cheek campaign demands capital’s new ‘icon’ is saved

Colin Drury
Saturday 08 January 2022 20:51
<p>A steward and no visitors on the Marble Arch Mound, which will close this weekend (PA)</p>

A steward and no visitors on the Marble Arch Mound, which will close this weekend (PA)

It has been labelled London’s worst ever tourist ever attraction: the now-infamous Marble Arch Mound was billed as a verdant green terrace looking across the West End but ended up as a geometric scaffold-and-wood-board pile with some grass tacked on.

But after Westminster City Council announced the much-mocked hill was to be closed and dismantled from Sunday, a petition has been lunched to save it.

The tongue-in-cheek campaign calls the 82ft mound an “icon of modern London” and demands it stay in its location between Oxford Road and Hyde Park.

“This…should be preserved and the many happy memories people have enjoyed on it should continue to take place,” the petition’s author Alexander Bowen writes on the website. “The Mound is both a piece of art and a piece of community - it must not be cut down in its prime especially in light of the money and joy already invested into it.”

Some £6m pound was spent on the bizarre project as a way to entice people back to the area following the end of last year’s coronavirus lockdown.

Yet after it opened — behind schedule — in July, visitors and architect critics alike were left distinctly underwhelmed. Issues included spindly vegetation where lush greenery had been promised and a summit that ultimately was not even high enough to offer views over nearby buildings. Adjectives used to describe the hill included “geometric” and “low resolution”.

So bad was the feedback that initial £8 tickets were scrapped and the attraction made free to access. The council’s deputy leader Melvyn Caplan resigned over his role in the costly white elephant.

Announcing the mound’s closure on Friday, the council said the attraction had achieved its aims by bringing some 250,000 people to the area and increasing footfall for nearby shops and restaurants.

Yet a sense pervades that, if it had have been a true success, it would have probably lived to see a second summer.

Either way, it seems that petition is unlikely to change the authority’s mind. By Saturday afternoon, it had achieved just 46 signatures.

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