Victorian London - Districts - Streets - Fleet Street

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Fleet Street. — Fleet-street and its neighbourhood take good care that Londoners shall find London all the world over. However the tide of active life in town may ebb and flow elsewhere, Fleet-street is always busy, and its London is always full. The centre of the great newspaper enterprise of England can be marked on a London map very near the middle of Fleet-street and within a radius of little more than half a mile from that point some of the greatest newspapers in the world work and think for millions of readers. It is curious to contrast the way in which newspaper work is done now, with that admirable description of the newspaper office of his time that George Warrington gives Pendennis in one of the most graphic chapters of that wonderful London book. There is no dashing up now of late expresses; there is none of the pomp and circumstance of the old press days. Electricity and railways have taken the romance out of that, as out of most things. But although it is not so much on the surface as of yore, good honest hard work is done in and about Fleet-street, and goes forth to the whole English-speaking race. That this is nothing new, every student well knows. Fleet-street may almost be called the nursing mother of English literature. Shakspere, Ben Johnson, Raleigh, Dryden, Dr. Johnson, Goldsmith, and countless names, brilliant even in brilliant times, are associated with Fleet-street. A tavern-street, as well as a literary centre, Fleet-street was and is. The newest-fashion newspaper and the oldest-style tavern still jostle each other now as they did a century or more ago. It would be rude, perhaps, to compare the ‘Fleet-streeter” of today with the” Grub-streeter” of the olden time; but as in Grub-street there was no literary work that could not be got for money, so it would be difficult to find any kind of literary work that could not be done in and about Fleet-Street.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

Fleet Street - photograph

George Birch, The Descriptive Album of London, c.1896

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - Fleet Street, looking East

Fleet Street, looking East -  photograph


Our view shows this narrow, though main, thoroughfare, the headquarters of London journalism, in a characteristic state of bustle. On the loft is the resplendent office of the Daily Telegraph, marked by an electric lamp on the other side is the advertisement office of the Daily Chronicle, with the passage to Salisbury Square beyond. The figure of Atlas a little further on calls attention to the office of the World, and in the same court, which leads to St. Brides church, Mr. Punch is at home. Fleet Street terminates at Ludgate Circus, and the beginning of Ludgate Hill is crossed by the bridge of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway; while the slender spire of St. Martin's brings into relief, the dimensions of the mighty dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.