A neglected Victorian drinking fountain was restored by Oxford Preservation Trust and Oxford City Council to save the much-loved local landmark for future generations.

The Victoria Fountain

Built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, this charming little building sits on the Plain roundabout. Occupying the site of the old St Clements Toll House, it marks a historic entrance to the city and is still a prominent landmark for all those crossing Magdalen Bridge. Octagonal in shape, its tiled roof topped by a timber cupola, it incorporates a drinking fountain, a clock, a weathervane and drinking troughs for the city’s tram-horses, all essential public amenities in Victorian England. Around the clock tower can be found a Latin inscription which translates as: ‘The water drips, the hours go by. Be warned, drink, catch them ‘ere they fly’. The Victorian Fountain was designed by E P Warren, who was also responsible for the Eastgate Hotel, buildings at the Radcliffe Infirmary, and at Balliol, Magdalen and St John’s colleges. It was paid for by G H Morrell, of the Morrell Brewery, who lived nearby at Headington Hill Hall and inaugurated on 25 May 1899 by Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s daughter. 

Black and white image of a crowd of people at the Victoria Fountain

The Conservation Project

By the early 2000s, this local landmark was neglected and forlorn. OPT worked with Oxford City Council, the owners of the fountain, to raise the funds required to conserve it. The stonework was cleaned, and the roof, weathervane and clock repaired. Access to the original plans assisted the work, which was enhanced by a careful lighting scheme so that the fountain now shines like a lantern at this important crossing point.

Victoria Fountain


In 2009 the restoration of the Victoria Fountain was completed in partnership with Oxford City Council, with the support of the East Area Parliament, and additional funds from Magdalen College and the CPRE Oxfordshire Building Preservation Trust. 

Victoria Fountain