Join me as I seek out Fifteen Famous Fleet Street Newspaper Reminders. Fleet Street, London EC4, is named after the River Fleet. It is famous for being the former home to British national newspapers from the 16th to 20th century. Having worked in the PR industry after leaving university, it was a destination of importance to me. Many of the newspapers moved out during the 1980s for cheaper rents and technological advances, but the media legacy lives on. The area is steeped in history, not only for the journalist connections but it was a significant route since Roman times. Fleet Street has the Strand one end and Ludgate Circus on the other which is near St Paul’s Cathedral. My Fifteen Famous Fleet Street Newspaper Reminders includes former newspaper offices, pubs frequented by journalists, memorials, and churches. Wynkyn de Worde is the ‘Father of Fleet Street” because he set up his press by Shoe Lane in circa 1500 and the Daily Courant in 1702 kick-started the newspaper legacy.
Fleet Street Sign
15 Things To See on Fleet Street:
Edgar Wallace Memorial Plaque
St Brides Church
Former Reuters Building
Former Daily Express Building
Eight Court Alley Pavement Stones
TP O’Conner Bust
Former Daily Telegraph Building
Former Liverpool Post and Echo Building
Former Scotsman Office
Former Glasgow Herald Office
Former News Agency Building
DC Thompson Building
Lord Northcliffe Memorial at St Dunstan’s in the West Church
JL Garvin Memorial at St Dunstan’s in the West Church
Fifteen Famous Fleet Street Newspaper Reminders
I’m starting my tour from the Ludgate Hill end of the street near St Paul’s Cathedral. I will tell you the key points of interest in order as you walk towards The Strand and Temple Bar, indicating what is on your right and left-hand side.
Edgar Wallace Memorial Plaque, 107 Fleet Street (on your right): Under the Ludgate House clock (at eye level) is a memorial plaque which reads, “Edgar Wallace. Reporter. Born London 1875, Died Hollywood 1932. Founder member of The Company of Newspaper Makers. He knew wealth & poverty yet had walked with kings and kept his bearings. Of his talents, he gave lavishly to authorship – but to Fleet Street, he gave his heart.” There is a pub named The Edgar Wallace at 40 Essex Street, which is a short walk away.
Punch Tavern, 99-100 Fleet Street (on your left): Grade II Listed Public House. In the 1840s the pub was renamed after Punch Magazine who had nearby offices. The tiled façade is charming. You will notice plenty of pubs in the vicinity, and I expect many prominent news stories were discussed in these watering holes by journalists over the years.
St Brides Church is set back from Fleet Street (on your left): Dubbed the “Spiritual Home of the Media” the gate has a plaque saying, “Erected by the Newspaper Society 1936.” You will also see a poster saying, “Welcome to the Cathedral of Fleet Street.” The church dates back to Roman times but was ruined after the Great Fire of London. It got a redesign by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672 only to be devastated during the London Blitz in 1940. It became a place of worship for journalists during the Fleet Street heyday.
Former Reuters Building, 85 Fleet Street (on your left): Magnificent building by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens built 1934-1939 for the Press Association who vacated in 1995. Look out for the statue of fame above the front entrance.
Former Daily Express Building, 120 Fleet Street (on your right): Stunning Grade II* Listed Building in a curved art deco design with black façade and glass detailing designed in 1932 by Ellis and Clark.
Eight Court Alley Pavement Stones, north side of Fleet Street (on your right): Look out for the eight ‘Courts’ alleyways (Peterborough, Cheshire, Wine Office, Hinde, Bolt, St Dunstan’s, Johnson’s, Red Lion and Crane. At the entrance of each court on the pavement is a stone commemorating an aspect of the printing press industry. My favourite is the one at St Dunstan’s Court with space invaders. It says “1980’s new computerised printing technology brought about the demise of the traditional Fleet Street printing process.”
TP O’Conner Bust, 77 Fleet Street (on your left): Memorial of TP O’Conner, a journalist and politician. The inscription says, “His pen could lay bare the bones of a book or the soul of a statesman in a few vivid lines.”
Former Daily Telegraph Building, Peterborough House, 135-141 Fleet Street (on your right): Grand 1920s Art Deco building with attractive Egyptian decorations and an ornate overhanging clock. The building was designed by Charles Ernest Elcock which opened in 1928.
Former Liverpool Post and Echo Building, Mersey House, 132 Fleet Street (on your right): Grade II Listed Building which was the previous Liverpool Post and Liverpool Echo Offices, hence the reference in the Mersey name.
Former Scotsman Office, corner of Fleet Street and Bouverie Street (on your left): The Scotsman was the first newspaper from outside London to open up on Fleet Street.
Former Glasgow Herald Office, 56-57 Fleet Street (on your left): Grade II Listed Building. The architects were Percy Tubbs, Grahame Burnell Tubbs and Donald Aver Duncan. It was built in 1927. The narrow building is decorative mixing several styles including Egyptian and Greek Revival. Look out for the engraved lion heads on the front. The windows are painted a vibrant rusty red colour.
Former News Agency Building, 44-46 Fleet Street (on your left): Photo and text agency who occupied the building from 1893 until 1971.
DC Thompson Building, 185 Fleet Street (on your right): The DC Thompson Scottish publishers still have a home on Fleet Street. The building is now used for the Beano Studios, “a rebellious content business.” Look through the glass foyer where you will see letters spelling out Beano and an old printing press.
Lord Northcliffe Memorial at St Dunstan’s in the West Church (on your right): Lord Northcliffe was the publisher and former owner of the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror.
JL Garvin Memorial at St Dunstan’s in the West Church (on your right): The former editor of the Observer has a plaque. Look under the overhanging clock.
Sweeney Todd’s barbershop was said to be at 152 Fleet Street which is next to the church and the DC Thompson offices!
More Historical Sites Near Fleet Street
While you are in the area venture down the side streets and alleys shooting off Fleet Street. Keeping on the newspaper theme, you will find some historical printing images on the side of the former Northcliffe House building on Ashentree Court, and the tiled Magpie Alley has information and pictures referring the area’s history.
Magpie Alley History References
Dr Johnson’s former House, now a museum, is open to the public at 17 Gough Square, which is close by. He was an eighteenth-century writer and lexicographer. The house is Grade I listed, and it is sparsely furnished but worth a walk around if you are in the vicinity. I love the bronze statue of Dr Johnson’s cat called Hodge in the square.
Hodge the Cat Looking at Dr Johnson’s Former Home
At the end of Fleet Street towards The Strand is the Royal Courts of Justice, an elegant Victorian Gothic Revival style building. The London Dragon sculpture by J.E. Boehm sits a plinth near the Royal Courts where the City of London Gates once stood. For more information, read the Wikipedia Fleet Street Page. The Londonist has a great Fleet Street feature. Enjoy your visit!