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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 12:07 GMT
Timeline: Diana memorial fountain
A visitor dips his feet in the fountain
Walking and running were banned because of safety fears

MPs are questioning officials behind the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, about why it ran over budget and needed repairs soon after opening.

The 3.6m fountain history began with disagreement during the planning stage, followed by safety concerns and flooding once the site opened.

Here are some key dates in the memorial's short life:

September 1999

Tony Blair announces that a fountain will be built in one of London's royal parks as a permanent memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales.

February 2001

The Memorial Fountain Committee, headed by the late princess' friend Rosa Monckton, is formed to oversee the project.

September 2001

A competition to design the fountain is launched.

July 2002

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell says she is "greatly concerned" over delays in commissioning the fountain and that a design team must begin work the following month.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
Tranquil waters

The fountain is intended to open in summer 2003, for the sixth anniversary of Diana's death.

Reports claim the Memorial Fountain Committee chose a design back in January, from more than 100 entries, but that the Department for Culture Media and Sport delayed approving it.

30 July 2002

Tessa Jowell chooses a design by US landscape artist Kathryn Gustafson for the memorial. The culture secretary stepped in after the committee was evenly split over two shortlisted designs.

Ms Gustafson's plan for an 80m by 50m oval stone ring filled with water is said to be more traditional than the rival design - a 16ft dome of water - by Bombay-based former Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor.

December 2002

The full details of Ms Gustafson's design are unveiled by the Royal Parks agency.

The designer promises "inclusiveness and interactivity", with people able to touch the water and paddle. She says the fountain's two halves - one gently bubbling, the other fast flowing - represent the joy and the turmoil of the princess' life.

June 2003

Work begins on the fountain.

Contractors begin groundwork in Hyde Park. Stone blocks quarried in Cornwall are cut in County Down.

20 August 2003

Tessa Jowell lays the foundation stone of the fountain.

6 July 2004

Flooding at the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
Washout

The Queen opens the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, a year after the original target date.

The Prince of Wales, Princes William and Harry, and Diana's brother Earl Spencer are also present. It is the first time Diana's two families - the Windsors and Spencers - have been together publicly since the princess' funeral.

7 July 2004

The fountain opens to the public, but leaves blocking the drains cause it to flood. A few days later, a blocked pump stops the flow of water.

22 July 2004

The fountain is closed after three visitors slip and hurt themselves while paddling in the water.

The monument is surrounded by a 7ft-high barrier after the two adults and a child are injured and taken to hospital. The Royal Parks agency calls in health and safety experts, designers and engineers to discuss ways of improving safety.

20 August 2004

The fountain reopens to public, with signs spelling out new safety rules.

People can sit or stand in the water, but walking and running are banned. Six staff trained in crowd control and first aid will supervise the site in the summer. New fences manage the number of people using the fountain.

9 January 2005

The memorial closes for four months' renovation work, primarily to tackle problems of flooding and waterlogged ground around the site.

Drainage is to be improved, and a path around the site lengthened and resurfaced. Tougher grass will also replace turf being worn out by visitors.

6 May 2005

The fountain reopens again.

2 November 2005

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee question government and Royal Parks representatives about the fountain's repairs, budget and running costs.


SEE ALSO
Diana fountain design unveiled
31 Jul 02 |  UK News
Concern at Diana fountain delays
01 Jul 02 |  UK News
Diana fountain to be built
22 Sep 99 |  Europe

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