Conspicuously placed on the Victoria Embankment is the famous granite obelisk known as Cleopatra's Needle. It was put up at Heliopolis by Pharaoh Thothmes II., about 1500 B.C., and twenty-three years before the Christian era it was erected at Alexandria -- Cleopatra's city. For centuries the obelisk lay neglected in the sand; but in 1819 it was presented to the British nation by Mohammed Ali as a memorial of Nelson and Abercromby. Dr. (afterwards Sir) Erasmus Wilson expended £10,000 upon its removal to this country in 1877. Owing to stormy weather the transport ship had to be abandoned in the Bay of Biscay but fortunately the monument was rescued, and in the following year it was placed in its present position, near Waterloo Bridge. It is 68½ feet high, and weighs 180 tons. The sphinxes are modern.
source: The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896