Mazda fountain shines again

The Mazda Electric Fountain in Brighton’s Victoria Gardens, unlit for 30 years, has been lovingly restored by a local lighting business.

It was originally given to the city in 1930 by Thomson-Houston Ltd following an exhibition and has stood in Victoria Gardens for nearly 90 years.

The fountain used to have lights weaving rainbow colours through jets of water that could reach up to 35 feet (10.6 metres). Using today’s technology with LED lighting, and DMX control (Digital Multiplex), the fountain now has an almost limitless colour palette and any colour scheme can be programmed. It will also be more robust and easier to maintain.

Our building services team worked with transport officers on the Valley Gardens project and specialist lighting contractor StarTek Lighting (UK) Ltd to restore the fountain.

When the fountain was previously working and lit in the late 1980s, the lighting power consumption was around 27,000W. The new LED lights will use just 340W – an energy saving of almost 1000%.

Labour of love

Technical director Jake Sharpstone said: “It’s been a labour of love restoring this great fountain to its former glory, and a real pleasure to be able to gift light to this fountain and the people of Brighton & Hove.

“Over a year ago when I saw on social media that the fountain might be removed from this prime spot I thought something had to be done to try and save it. I realised that as an owner of an LED lighting manufacturing company we could help save it by restoring the lighting.”

StarTek set about designing lights that would enhance the water jets, maintained over many years by Tim Fowler of Fowl Electrical Services and Peter More of PM Lighting Services.

Restoration so far has taken a year to complete – next year further work will be done to light up the rim of the fountain.

The fountain has a ring of five water spouts with ring jets around them, plus one powerful jet in the middle. All will be lit with additional lights around the rim for maximum effect.

Petition by residents

In 2015 the fountain was drained as there was no council budget to repair it at the time. Residents petitioned the council to re-instate the fountain but it was not until 2017 when a second petition was made that the council agreed to restore it as part of the Valley Gardens scheme.

StarTek offered to restore the lighting at no cost to the council. The company will be able to use the Mazda fountain to market their business.

Councillor Anne Pissaridou, chair of the city’s environment committee, said: “This is a great example of people power and social enterprise. The fountain is loved by residents, has been saved by them and restored by a Brighton company. The fountain is even better than before, adding extra colour to our colourful city.”

The council will service and maintain the fountain.

Iconic feature

Jake added: “We look forward to seeing people’s reaction to the new lighting as most people won’t have seen this fountain lit up as it was intended – we hope it will be a great addition to the many amazing, iconic features of Brighton and Hove.”

The Mazda fountain is in an area of Victoria Gardens that is currently fenced off for open space improvements as part of the Valley Gardens scheme. It will be in full view when the garden works are complete next spring and when the fountain is formally switched on for the public to enjoy.