When I last visited, it was 1968. Then, as I walked down the street, and a few of its offshoots, I could see the buildings (housing offices and printing works) of every national newspaper in the country. It was tremendously exciting.
Now that has all changed. The last couple of news journalists (from The Sunday Post) left Fleet Street in 2016 following the exit of Reuters from their grand Luytens building in 2005. Bear in mind that Fleet Street was not just the heart of journalism, it was the London heart of printing and writing.There is a Press Gazette article which lists the remaining buildings and plaques in Fleet Street and its surrounds which hark back to the era when the street was the heart of British journalism. But yesterday I didn’t have the benefit of that article in front of me, and instead had a poke around to see what I could find as I walked up the street. The spirit of discovery heighten my enjoyment of the visit.
One of the things that caught my eye, was the wonderful, colourful image of Dennis Menace and Gnasher from Beano (right above). This is in the front ground floor of the London office of newspaper publisher, D.C.Thomson.
The D.C.Thomson front showroom also has an antique printing press proudly displayed to the public.
Just off Fleet Street is Bouverie Street. Harmsworth House at 13-15 Bouverie Street is, I suppose, the former Daily Mail building – perhaps even the site of the former News Chronicle, which was a Liberal supporting newspaper. I cannot ascertain that.
Also just off Bouverie Street is the wonderfully named Magpie Alley. This has a fantastic, informative mural about the history of printing and journalism in Fleet Street/Bouverie Street.
By going down some narrow alleyways (of which Dr Samuel Johnson was very keen) you come to Gough Square, which has writer Dr Johnson’s house (which is open to the public) and a lovely statue of his faithful cat, Hodge.
I’ll continue my story of this visit in a future post.