When the “Marble Arch Mound”:https://themarblearchmound.com/ opened in July 2021, it attracted much criticism and closed two days later. Early visitors claimed it was the ‘worst attraction in London’ and instead of the anticipated lush landscape, it was said to resemble a slag heap with rubble, building works, sad trees and brown turf.
However, I’d already booked my tickets (£4.50 each) but by the time of our visit in September, it had reopened, and costs were being refunded.
On arrival at 11am we joined a short queue. Staff checking tickets and conducting bag searches were friendly and efficient and we were soon setting off up the 130 steps to the top (22.5 metres). The climb was surprisingly easy as the wide metal steps had a little bounce in them, and they were in manageable flights of eight. With a couple of stops for photos and to catch our breath, we arrived at the large viewing platform.
As well as information boards pointing out the various sites, the security staff extremely friendly and knowledgeable.
We learned that the nearby Tyburn Covent was founded near the famous site of the Tyburn Gallows where more than 100 Catholics were martyred during the Reformation.
We spotted the Marble Arch Fountains in full flow. Having been installed in the early 1960s, they were decommissioned in 1999 and filled with soil until 2009 when they were brought back into play.
We could see down Oxford Street with the information board telling us it was also known as ‘The Nation’s High Street’, ‘Retail Heaven’ and ‘The Ox’. I’ve visited many, many times, but had never known it by any of these names.
In the distance were famous landmarks: the London Eye; the recently developed Battersea Power Station; and the tall buildings of the city including the Walkie Talkie and the Shard.
We spent around 20 minutes at the top before walking down a second set of stairs which took us through the heart of the mound. This allowed us to see the huge volume of scaffolding supporting the structure.
At the bottom was a sound and light show, Lightfield, by a British/American artist, Anthony James. Having gone through a curtain we were immediately plunged into disconcerting darkness until our eyes adjusted. It’s hard to describe the amazing installations, so I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Despite all the criticism, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and would happily have paid £4.50.
The mound is open until January 2022, and we’d like to return in December when the mound is open until 8pm, to experience the Oxford Street Christmas lights from a different perspective.
There is also a lift to the top for those unable to climb the steps.