An innovative water display makes a big splash in Great Britain.

Water features are gaining in popularity - for private houses and gardens, but no less for major public events. At the British Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations, in front of Buckingham Palace, dancing fountains were powered by Lowara pumps. A little later, an innovative display featuring dancers with controllable sprays from head, shoulders, waist and fingertips made a splash.

From the glory days of English country houses and European palaces, architects and landscapers competed to provide the most extravagant fountain, the longest cascade or the most realistic canal or lake. Today, gardening stores report that the small garden pond, complete with solar fountain; the trickling spring fed by a re-circulating pump; or the mock stream flowing through a rockery are the must-haves for today's landscapers and gardeners, with their - in most cases - much more restricted horizons.

But there's still an opportunity to make the bold statement with water and, increasingly, people are discovering its potential for when something special is called for; events for which a few years ago (when we were perhaps less concerned about safety and noise) fireworks might have been the solution of choice.

Waterfalls, jets, dancing fountains, water screens and fog and rain systems suitable for television and film use can be installed for permanent display or a single one-off special event. Matched with computer controls to turn on and off the water pumps and vary their performance and to mix in colored lights, the resulting display can be spectacular - while also being peaceful and safe.

Plainly, the driving force behind any water display is the quality and reliability of the pumping equipment used. When Water Sculptures Ltd. of England was called upon to join in the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations, the firm selected Lowara pumps for the high profile installation immediately in front of Buckingham Palace.

Lowara's Ken Attwood remarks, “We really were delighted to be involved in such a high profile project and to be working with Water Sculptures. The business was held by another major pump manufacturer, but we'd been working with the company for 12 months, trying out various options from our range and working with them on their display designs. We feel we impressed them with our level of service and cooperative attitude. Pumps are a very competitive business, and, increasingly, it's not always the cheapest price that makes for the best applicant. We really seem to be getting a name for the service we offer our customers.”

The Buckingham Palace display featured 34 single-phase pumps, which were evenly spaced out in two fountain pools either side of the Queen Victoria landmark memorial outside the main gates of the palace. The computer controls programmed over 10 different sequences into the display, including Chases and Mexican Waves, with water jets fired up to 25 feet high.

“The Water Sculptures people are very experienced in what they do,” says Attwood. “They're very knowledgeable, and that makes it more of a partnership operation where we could go and see them, talk through the plans, try things out and work together on getting the right result.”

The partnership between Lowara and Water Sculptures Limited continued a little later in Manchester, England, for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games featuring athletes from around the world.

The extraordinary display featured a main stage surrounded by four satellite stages and - in a play on Manchester's reputation for rain - 50 citizens were transformed into dramatically choreographed 'water spirits', with hidden tubes fuelling fountains of water from head, shoulder, waist and fingertips.

“Using real people in this way was a new idea,” explains Attwood. “No one had any experience at this sort of thing, so we were all learning and had to try a few options to get the right size of pump and so on. But it all worked well and really was very impressive on the day.” ND