This marble bust, that is about eight times life-size, is of Sir Joseph Paxton MP who, to quote the plaque on the front of the plinth, was the "creator of The Crystal Palace which stood near this site from 1854 - 1936". The sculptor was W F Woodington who created this piece in 1869.
The Crystal Palace building was initially constructed in Hyde Park in central London to house an exhibition in 1851 that was entitled "The Great Exhibition of the Works and Industry of All Nations". The exhibition ran from May to October 1851.
It had been agreed that the building, now known as The Crystal Palace, would be removed from Hyde Park when the exhibition ended. This happened and The Crystal Palace was opened by Queen Victoria in 1854.
The Crystal Palace was destroyed by a fire towards the end of 1936 and all that now remain are the foundations and some statues.
The bust of Paxton was commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of the Palace and to commemorate Paxton, the architect. This was also moved a short distance in 1981 and rotated through 180° so that Paxton is now looking away from the site of the Palace.