Water cascades across Sunderland’s all-new square as it nears completion.
But it was not just the pouring rain causing water to run down Keel Square, part of a £11.8 million development, which includes infrastructure to the nearby Vaux site and the realignment of St Mary’s Way.
Workmen putting the finishing touches to the new public place outside the city’s magistrates’ court yesterday switched on the jets on the two separate water features.
The centrepiece of the two sits flush with the ground and features variable jets and colour-changing lights, for different effects.
Once complete, Keel Square will celebrate Sunderland’s shipbuilding and industrial heritage, with a unique public art feature, known as The Keel Line.
The Keel Line spans the length of the Naess Crusade – the largest ship to be built on Wearside – launching from the JL Thompson shipyard on December 21, 1972.
At 291m, the line includes the names of up to 9,000 of the most significant ships built in Sunderland’s shipyards dating back to the early 19th century.
It spans from Stephen Broadbent’s sculpture – Propellers of the City – to the River Wear.
Broadbent’s 3.5 metre-high interactive artwork will include the photographs of up to 500 Sunderland people who worked in the shipyards, in roles from blacksmith and riveter to cleaner.
Landscaping, street furniture and space for cafe culture-style entertainment also feature in the plans.
Councillor Mel Speding, Cabinet Secretary, Sunderland City Council, said: “Keel Square gives the city a quality civic space for people to enjoy and also will attract further inward investment to the city.
“Today saw the final testing of the new fountains in the square. This new feature, which includes a number of plaza jets, foaming jets, a fountain, a pool, weirs and coloured lighting schemes, will soon be running on a daily basis and is sure to be a fantastic addition to the city centre.”