26 Things To Look Out For On Fleet Street

26 Things To Look Out For On Fleet Street

There were plenty of headlines about the 'last journalists' working in Fleet Street leaving in 2016. Whether you believe that the former 'street of ink' really has closed for business or not, there's still plenty of evidence of the area's journalistic past, if you know where to look. This guide covers the street roughly from west to east on the north side, and then east to west on the south side. You may have to cross over a few times to admire the taller buildings in all their glory from the other side of the road.

St Dunstans in the West

J. L. Garvin's plaque (left) and Lord Northcliffe's memorial, partially obscured by a coffee truck.

This church, more complete than its eastern counterpart, carries a memorial to Lord Northcliffe, publisher and former owner of the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. Close by, there's also a plaque dedicated to JL Garvin, former editor of The Observer.

To see the plaques, enter the churchyard via the black metal gate between the church itself and DC Thomson's building (pictured below). They're on the wall below the hanging black clock, although more often than not, a pop-up coffee cart takes up residence on that spot, obscuring the view.

The DC Thomson and Sunday Post building

Although its main base is in Scotland, publisher DC Thomson — best known for the Beano and Dandy — still has an outpost on Fleet Street. It's obvious from the outside which building we're talking about, but if in doubt, peer through the glass windows into the foyer at the life sized Beano cutouts and old printing press.

That's an old printing press in DC Thomson's foyer.

As the building itself tells you, it also housed the Sunday Post for several years — this was where the final two reporters on Fleet Street worked until August 2016. Here's a photo of them looking suitably forlorn at their departure.

185 Fleet Street is just a shave too close to Sweeney Todd's potentially fictional address, 186 Fleet Street. Google Maps actually locates Sweeney Todd's Barber Shop within the DC Thomson building.

The eight courts

Eight different alleyways lead off of the north side of Fleet Street; Wine Office Court, Hind Court, Bolt Court, Cheshire Court, Johnson's Court, Red Lion Court, Crane Court and Hen & Chicken Court.

At the entrance of each of these courts, laid into the pavement, is a plaque commemorating an aspect of the printing press industry. Johnson's Court has a bit of work going on when we visited, hence the workman's fence in the photo. Yes, those are Space Invaders you see before you — apparently they represent "new computerised printing technology".

The former King and Keys

Now a Chilango Mexican takeaway, 142 Fleet Street used to be home to The King and Keys pub, frequented by staff of the Telegraph. Look up on the building — the pub's name can still be seen.

The Telegraph Building

The building at 135-141 Fleet Street was built in the 1920s for the Telegraph's staff. It's a grand, art deco, Egyptian-style edifice. The Telegraph moved out in the 1980s and the building is now known as Peterborough House, owned by Goldman Sachs. It's listed now, but we wish this clock was still outside.

Mersey House

Here's what 132-134 Fleet Street looked like in 1959, when it was still home to the Liverpool Post and Liverpool Echo. The building's name — Mersey House — is presumably a nod to the newspapers' north-west England heritage. It's often overlooked, wedged between the two behemoths on either side.

The Express Building

A couple of doors down from The Telegraph Building, at 121-128 Fleet Street is the Express Building. It causes a bit of disagreement here at Londonist Towers, with one member of staff describing it as "one of London's sexiest buildings", and others writing it off as a brooding harbinger of something bad. Whatever your thoughts, it's Grade II* listed. It was built in 1932 and The Express left in 1989.

Today, both the Telegraph and Express buildings house offices of Goldman Sachs, not that you'd know it from the outside — those curtains remain resolutely closed at all times, no sign no any Sachs branding. In 2013, Channel 4 got access inside the building.

Stationers' Hall Court

Head east of Fleet Street to the courtyard of Stationers' Hall, located halfway between Ludgate Circus and St Paul's Cathedral. Take a left down Stationers' Hall Court, and when the alley opens out into a courtyard, look over to the left and you'll see the above plaque on the wall.  

Wynkyn de Worde was known as the 'father of Fleet Street' as he set up the area's first printing presses. The sun symbol on the plaque was stamped on the back of books printed by de Worde to identify him as the printer.

The Punch Tavern

The Punch Tavern at 99 Fleet Street was so named because of its association with Punch magazine, whose offices were close by. The pub was previously known as the Crown and Sugar Loaf, and a nod to this can still be seen around the corner on Bride's Lane:

St Bride's - The Journalists' Church

Grade I listed St Bride's Church is known as the 'Journalists' Church' due to being the local place of worship for the many hacks that once inhabited Fleet Street. The church still bears a sign, visible from Fleet Street, announcing itself as the 'Journalists' Church' (and, not shy of tooting its own trumpet, another declaring it the 'Cathedral of Fleet Street').

Completely separately, the steeple of St Bride's is believed to have been the inspiration for the tiered wedding cake. See what happened when we climbed that spire in 2013 — or if you've not got a head for heights, venture into the crypt instead.

The St Bride Foundation Library next door is dedicated to the history of printing presses.

Old Bell Tavern

Now a Nicholson's pub, this boozer claims that it used to house a printing press. No doubt it's seen plenty of journalists in their cups here too.

Former Reuters building

Reuters, the last major news outlet to leave Fleet Street (in 2005 — having been there since 1939) was based in this building at 85 Fleet Street. It's now home to the Metro Publishing Group. Built in 1939, it was designed by Edward Lutyens who also designed the BBC's Broadcasting House.

Salisbury Court

Head down Salisbury Court to see the above plaque. Salisbury Court is also the birthplace of Press Gazette, founded in 1965 by Colin Valder.

T. P. O'Connor bust

Outside 77 Fleet Street (now a Sainsbury's Local), you'll find this plaque dedicated to Irish journalist and politician T.P. O'Connor. The relevance to this particular address isn't clear, but given the long list of publications to his name (The Daily Telegraph, The New York Herald, Pall Mall Gazette, The Star, The Sun...) it's more than likely that he worked here at some point.

The Hack and Hop

We can only assume that the name of this pub, on Whitefriars Street, is a nod to the area's former hacks. The walls are decorated with a selection of newspaper headlines from the 20th century.

The Harrow

If you're going to the upstairs function room, we suggest you use the stairs, not a ladder.

Another former journos' watering hole, the private function room upstairs is called the Vincent Mulchrone Room, named after a Daily Mail journalist. The building, at 22 Whitefriars Street, is listed.

Northcliffe House

This building at the junction of  Whitefriars Street and Tudor Street was formerly the Daily Mail's HQ. Known as Northcliffe House (after Lord Northcliffe, who is commemorated at St Dunstan in the West; note, Northcliffe House is now the name of the Daily Mail's new building in Kensington). Peer closely above the door of this one though, and the evidence is still there:

Head around the corner to Ashentree Court for further information...

Ashentree Court

Embedded in the back of the former Northcliffe House, on Ashentree Court, are a series of metal information panels. They depict the history of the newspaper presses at Northcliffe House, and more widely, on Fleet Street as a whole.

Magpie Alley

Follow Ashentree Court through until it becomes Magpie Alley and you'll come across another visual representation of the area's history; the printing press mural. A series of black and white tiles feature technical details about the types of printing press used, as well as historic photos of the newspaper and printing press buildings that used to exist in the area.

Bouverie Street

The Sun, previously known as The Daily Herald, was first published on Bouverie Street in 1964. The News of the World also used to be based on this street. Most evidence of either paper's existence has now disappeared, including those offices and that News of the World clock.

The Sun is now printed in Broxbourne, and its editorial staff are based in the News International building at London Bridge.

The Scotsman's office

The building on the corner of Fleet Street & Bouverie Street — now inhabited by optician The Eye Place — was previously the offices of The Scotsman. During the second world war, journalist Lesley Jerman from Theydon Bois chose to live in these offices rather than risk making the seven-mile journey home each night.

In 1866, it was one of the first newspapers from outside London to open an office in Fleet Street. Later, there was a private telephone in the House of Commons with a line direct to The Scotsman's Fleet Street offices.

London News Agency building

You get the best view of 44-46 Fleet Street looking across at it from Fetter Lane. It was once home to the London News Agency, a photo and text agency which resided in Fleet Street from 1893 until it moved to Clerkenwell in 1972.

Glasgow Herald Office

56 and 57 Fleet Street are home to the former Glasgow Herald offices, now used as office space for other companies. Here's what it looked like in 1927. It's the red colour that'll catch your eye first, but look up, and look closer — you'll see the Scottish flag and a lion carved into the building.

El Vino

This rustic-looking wine bar had long been a regular drinking post for the street's journalists, but is better-known for its outdated rules, insisting male customers wore suits and ties. Female customers were another issue altogether, being banished to the back room and banned from approaching the bar until journalist Anna Coote won a legal case in 1982. Hugh Cudlipp, the editor of the Daily Mirror, was among journalists banned from the premises for bad behaviour.

The founding family sold the bar in 2015, but the Fleet Street outlet has kept its El Vino name.

Fleet Street Press Coffee

We love a good punning name, but this one at 3 Fleet Street is a bit false, given that the coffee shop only opened in 2013, long after most of the press had cleared off to pastures new.

The Edgar Wallace

This pub, located on Essex Street at the Western end of Fleet Street, was named after journalist and crime writer Edgar Wallace, who worked for the likes of Reuters and the Daily Mail. The plaque in the right of the photo gives a more detailed history of Wallace's life and work.

Wallace is also remember in this plaque, which you'll find on the north-west corner of Ludgate Circus, at the opposite end of Fleet Street.

The Guardian has some fantastic photos looking back through the history of Fleet Street. Where else have we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Last Updated 19 October 2017

Harry Kobeans

How can you do a piece on Fleet St and not mention The Cheshire Cheese?