Victoria Tower Gardens are beautifully located, alongside the river Thames and right next to the Houses of Parliament. There could hardly be a better site, then, for this fountain which commemorates Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, his fellow anti-slavery campaigners, and the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834.
In fact it didn't move here until 1954, having stood until then in Parliament Square itself. The fountain was erected in 1865, the work of architect S S Teulon. (Buxton's son, a self-taught architect who commissioned the fountain, probably collaborated with him on the design.) It certainly has all the hallmarks of a fine piece of Victoriana. As well as the brightly-coloured enamelled steel roof, there is carving, mosaic, coloured granite, and barely a square inch without fancy flourishes of some kind.
When the square was redesigned in 1949, Victorian gothic was deeply unfashionable. The fountain was removed and the original plan was probably to quietly get rid of it. However, there were strong objections - particularly from the Anti-Slavery Society - and instead the Parliament Square Act 1949 was amended to require re-erection in a new site approved by both Houses of Parliament. (That displeased some parliamentarians: Sir Edward Keeling 'observed that the memorial had no artistic merit whatsoever, and he said that he hoped that it would be destroyed by the Ministry of Works.')