Entertainment

London’s newest attraction, the Marble Arch Mound, gets off to a soggy start

By Jacob Phillips, Local Democracy Reporter

A ‘muddy’ Marble Arch Mound has got off to a soggy start as building works continue on London’s latest attraction.

Visitors’ reactions were mixed but some slammed the mound’s views as “not great”.

Londoners were able to scale the 25m-high temporary viewing platform at Marble Arch Hill for the first time from 11am on Monday.

As heavy rains fell, parts of the mound were already falling away just eight minutes after it opened as the sculpture remained enclosed by unsightly fencing.

Grass patches also appeared to be slipping away at the back of the mound as further foliage was added by workers at the 5,000sq foot exhibition space.

Overnight, workers were spotted adding two trolley’s worth of plants to the mound – just one day after it opened.

Visitors paid between £4.50 and £8 to climb the pop-up attraction, which has received £2 million from Westminster council – despite an initial pledge of £900,000.

The attraction’s opening day was delayed by 21 days – but tourists and Westminster residents still queued to climb it.

London-based vlogger Paul Brown, who climbed the mound, said: “The plants haven’t grown quite yet. People’s feedback is that it’s a bit so-so. The views of Oxford Street aren’t great, the views of Hyde Park aren’t great but it’s something different.

“For £4.50 you can’t go wrong but don’t expect a lot.”

The Mound, with Marble Arch to the right

Tour guide Mike Dickson has booked a ticket to go up the Marble Arch Mound.

He said: “This sort of pop-up attraction is great. If I was visiting a foreign city and there was a one-off attraction like this I would be up there in a flash.”

Lifelong Westminster resident Stevie Pearce was so excited to go up the mound she arrived an hour before it opened.

She said: “Having lived here since the 1940s I have never seen anything like it.

“I immediately wanted to go. I was interested to see what the attraction was like. I think it’s great. Marble Arch was always a no man’s land.”

The attraction next to the grade-I listed Marble Arch will be open for six months and tourists will enjoy elevated views of some of the city’s top spots, including Hyde Park, Oxford Street, Edgware Road and Park Lane.

The project’s founders hope the mound will help entice people back to the West End and give them an open-air experience before they hit the shops in Oxford Street, and nearby bars and restaurants.

The project is part of the council’s new £150m Oxford Street District plan, with other partners to boost Central London businesses as they recover from the pandemic.

Organisers hope the mound will attract 200,000 ticket holders, with “millions expected to pass through the area to take a glimpse of the attraction”.

The mound won planning permission in March but the mound has so far divided opinion.

One objector wrote: “This is a piece of nonsensical rubbish along the lines of the Garden Bridge.”

Another Westminster resident commented: “Given current economic considerations and issues, this is completely unnecessary.”

A Westminster City Council spokesman said: “The Marble Arch Mound is a living building by design.

“Visitors are already loving the experience at the Mound and the spectacular views it has to offer. We’ll continue to adapt and improve London’s exciting newest outdoor attraction and will resolve any teething problems as they emerge.”

Pictured top: Parts of the Marble Arch Mound were falling away as it opened

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