Fleet Street is named after the
Fleet River, one of the many rivers that now flow beneath
London's streets to the Thames.
Running eastwards from the Strand
towards Ludgate Hill and St
Paul's, Fleet Street was once synonymous with Britain's
national daily and Sunday newspapers.
The association began in 1500
when William Caxton's assistant, Wynkyn de Worde, moved his
printing presses from Westminster and set up opposite Shoe
Lane. Fleet Street soon became the haunt of many important
The playwrights William Shakespeare
and Ben Jonson were once patrons at the old Mitre Tavern,
now No. 37 Fleet Street. Samuel Pepys and Dr Samuel
Johnson drank at the Devil's Tavern, at No. I , and Dr Johnson
was also a regular of the most famous of Fleet Street's taverns,
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Parts of this building, set
on the corner with Wine Office Court, date back to 1667, when
the tavern was rebuilt after the Great Fire. It is one
of the few pubs in London to have retained the 18th century
arrangement of small rooms with fireplaces, tables and benches.
Dr Johnson's association with 'the Cheese' made the
tavern a place of pilgrimage for many 19th century literary
figures including Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.
The first newspaper, 'The Daily
Courant', was issued from Fleet Street in 1702. Journalists
made the most of Fleet Street's convenient location near the
City and Westminster, where most major stories originated.
Fleet Street remained the centre
of London's publishing industry until the late-20th century.
However, in 1985 News International suddenly transferred its
production of the Sun and the The Times to Wapping, ending
the restrictive 'Spanish practices' of the London printers
and, with new technology, made it easy to produce the papers
away from the centre of the London.
The printing presses that once
stood below the newspaper offices in Fleet Street were abandoned
as the other newspaper organisations moved out to Docklands
and sites south of the river.
Most of the newspapers left their
offices in Fleet Street and only Reuters remains, at No. 85.
UPDATE: Reuters now re-located as well, no newspaper
business now left in Fleet Street
stately, grey Daily Telegraph building, at No. 135, is now
occupied by finance houses. The black glass and chrome
Daily Express building, at Nos. 121 - 128, dating from the
1930s and England's first glass-curtain structure, stands
Even with the newspapers gone,
St Bride's, one of Wren's churches, is still thought of as
the printers and journalist's church. The church is
the venue for memorial services to departed journalists and
many are remembered by plaques on the walls.
El Vino's wine bar at the western
end of Fleet Street opposite Fetter Lane, still remains the
haunt of journalists and lawyers.