Pubs of the northern City of London / Farringdon
a perfectly no… 13 Nov 19 14:29
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I hope this will start a trend for pub threads based on different areas of London.

So, my trainee haunt was the Butcher’s Hook and Cleaver. Some cohorts preferred the Lord Raglan on St Martin’s le Grand but this has the drawback of not being in any way, shape or form a good pub; its main distinctions in my memory are (1) being host to our official new trainee welcome drinks when I was the babiest if baby lawyers and (2) I once met for a pint there a certain girthsome former ROFer renowned for his wedding dancing and exaggerated boasts of sexual prowess. I had actually driven my then-fiancee’s car in and parked it on Gresham street and had so many, MANY pints that I had to leave it. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t make it in for the crack of dawn to retrieve it the next morning, and incurred a parking fine.

Only the brave trainee went to the Bishop’s Finger, although it is the only pub I’ve ever been to that stocks Oranjeboom. I went to a spectacular ROF drinks there where I met SCT for the first time and accordingly left with surprise horn.

Back when I was a regular drinker in this area I seem to have overlooked the profusion of Proper Beer Pubs in the quiet streets between Weat Smithfield and Aldersgate Street, the best of which is the Hand and Shears, but the Rising Sun and Old Red Cow both meritorious.

Although the much missed Smithfield Tandoori fell into a Crossrail box, just near there on Charterhouse Street at the NE corner of Smithfield Market there has always been a small bar, which now is called Be At One but back in the noughties was vaguely japanese themed and had vintage arcade machines. It was always shit. Fox & Anchor round the corner - great for breakfast but not really a pub is it,

North of here on St. John St, one of the bars up here, I really can’t remember which for reasons which will follow - maybe Trader Vic’s - I once had a Very Bad Night as a trainee which featured me almost getting into fisticuffs with a partner from the litigation dept. I mean quite. youngish fittish relatively hard partner who would probably have chinned me, too. Reader, my career survived.

Happier times, the Hogshead in a hard of Cowcrosa Street just behind where Books Etc used to be is where I watched England win the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Hogshead briefly had another branch nearby on Aldersgate St, which opened at their peak just before they went under.

Opposite on Cowcross St has always been a consistently  undistinguished bar, now called the Fence, where an alcoholic former boss used to take me drinking. I’d have a bad pint of Greene King IPA while he nailed two bottles of white. The main advantage of this place is a quite attractive terrace out the back, above the retaining wall of the City Widened Lines to Moorgate.

Good read!  The Raglan is unmitigated shyte, as you say. 
 

Hand and Shears is decent

Did u ever find yourself with a bunch of besuited wankers in Beduin bar tho, aka the only place open at 3am in that area?

I say this myself, but these posts are what rof is made of aren’t they, oure gold. One of those OPs is worth abbeywell’s entire lifetime output.

Vaguely near this district is the Shakespeare, which was built as the estate pub for the golden lane council estate but has evolved into a pleasant and neighbourhoody place, quite different from anywhere else around the City but not rough at all.

Much better than the disappointing Sutton Arms on charterhouse street, although I did, unaccountably, once meet the top (in her time) UK porn star Chantelle Fox in there. She enjoyed being recognised.

Who the fuck goes to the pub any more?  It's so fucking expensive and usually full of complete bell ends.

 

sorry

what? on any level. what

Anyway the answer is: literally everybody but you

Butcher's Hook is the name of our Fantasy League - its where we hold the annual auction. Its alright. Central and can normally commandeer a table upstairs but nothing special about it. TBH when I was back at CC I preferred the Raglan. Not that I ever spent much time in either.

One notable feature of London’s human topography is that most overland stations have pubs. A thoroughly worthwhile project for my vlogging career, which will also build my video editing skills, is to try to visit and vlog all of them.

One that I always remember, and not for good reasons, is the Old Oak by Gospel Oak station. This is actually quite near the southampton arms (qv). I once went there at the end of a very long all afternoon solo pub crawl around kentish town, in the course of which I visited many of the KTW pubs discussed on the other thread. This was summer 2014, early in the new football season I’d guess. Prayer in C by Lilly Wood was in the charts, or had been recently. By the time I got to the Old Oak, which is not an especially welcoming or nice pub, I’d had like 8 pints of variably kept and preserved ale, and listened to Prayer in C on repeat about 50 times in succession. My mind was blasted. I watched a Chelsea game in there and almost threw up whatever malty trembly flat sulphur smelling bilge it was they poured me, then pretty much crawled home.

Viaduct Tavern used to be good for a quiet pint at lunchtime. Not really a destination pub because it was a bit run down.

Close to the office though when people used to drink at lunchtime.

I watched Sven’s first game as England manager in the Butcher’s. 

That's across the road from me Chambers, never been in there

I know that one Chambo. When drinking with Lovellsm8s, used to prefer the Bottlescrue. Never got in Terry Neill’s.

I like the raglan for 3 reasons: 1) I once won 80 quid on a fruity in there 2) I watched england play Argentina in there (must have been 2002 WC I think and we won1-0) 3) got a rub and tug in one of the snugs up on the first floor

BH was always spent.

BF did ace sausages.

Red cow is no more I think.

There was a nice bar for clerkenwell called the well up st John's st sort of half bar half resto.  They did pints of prawns.  

My first trainee drinks were at the prefab pub up on the high walk past MOL - think it began with an M?

Always had time for the hogshed.  Once saw the post room boys from the 2 nearest firms kick off a massive bridget Jones style lame ruck  there.

My m7 dave had a girl follow him onto the gents in the shed and shag him in trap 2.

is this a m8 Dave that I would know?

Old Red Cow still there - has been refitted lately in a hipster craft beer way

If you go a little further north there is the Horseshoe in Clerkenwell.

Proper old fashioned pub, reasonably priced and a surprisingly spacious beer garden out the back - lovely for summer.

Bottlescrue now closed apparently, not sure about Terry Neil's. Still, at least they've given the Lovells lot a pub underneath their new building, which can be accessed by private elevator fom their upper floors.

Freshfields used to have a strip bar in the basement of their building and there was a direct lift shaft between them, altho not in service

Are you sure about that laz?

I know the area reasonably well and I don’t recall that at all.

Also I’m also completely certain that as a matter of policy the City of London just doesn’t license such establishments.

it was in the lawyer m88 therefore must be true

they may be misinformed about that

closest i can think is a cabaret bar that did burlesque in the same block as bird and bird in about 2006 but that's it

Didn't FF building used to be the sun's?  Would make sense if so.  Is flt st in the city technically being outside the Ludgate?  I have a feeling the dragon statue by the OBE is the boundary so probs yes.  Flt st city, strand wminster 

Butcher’s Hook gets the sun nicely in the summer. HS is a great boozer. There’s a Sam smith’s by the church the name of which i can’t remember. There’s the Smithfield tavern as well which started doing vegan food at one point, two fingers to the history of the place.

Bedouin was/is an awful place.

 

technically Peterborough House was the Telegraph but Goldmans has that and the old Express building, which is next door

also, to circle back to the pub theme, the Mitre used to be a pub much frequented by Mirror journalists when the Mirror was based where Sainsbury’s are now headquartered - you would be a liar and a communist to suggest that this had anything to do with the Mitre winning the Mirror’s London pub of the year award a couple of times

1. Ye Olde Mitre, tiny and one of the few pubs to escape the Gr8 Fire.

2. The Bishop's Finger does excellent bangers (fresh from Smithfield) and mash.

3. The Jerusalem Tavern, one of my all-time faves, with a long history in various locations.

4. The Dovetail does hundreds of Belgian beers and a fine fish stew.

5. The Fox & Anchor has some cozy spots in the winter.

And of course A&O used to have a wine bar under their New Change building. Whilst at CC I used to go in there with a copy of the Standard and listen to the chat.  Worked well until I got clocked by a partner there.

I can't think of anything worse than going to a bar in someone else's law firm.

I was also a trainee in that part of town. The Hogshed was the trainee pub of choice but my little group of trainee pals always preferred the Hand and Shears.  Many a happy night getting absolutely  wasted in there.  the Hogshed was always rather too full of obnoxious rugby playing types likely to be trying to shag some poor unfortunate girl in the loos for our taste... 

My mate Dave was a trainee at another firm round there.  When we went drinking it was usually in the Rising Sun he was (and is) very tight and it's a Sam Smith's pub. It had a great proper pub atmosphere but the hangovers (and stomach) upset from a night of Sam Smith's beer were appalling

I think I’ve got a handle on Wang’s relevant m88 Dave now. Can’t recall his name but can picture the likely chap.

Farringdon and Clerkenwell are blessed with many fantastic pubs like the Green, the three Kings, the Crown, Betsey Trottwood, the Seckforde Arms, the Horseshoe, the Peasant etc 

They do. The Sekforde and the Three Kings are both outstanding. Clarke well is out of scope, however.

The Harlequin next to Sadler’s Wells is a lovely pub

 

They’ve ponced up the Sekforde, so it may be a little different from how you remember it.

Nice and all, but definitely different.

My m88 Dave is in a folk band who used to play the Betsey all the time. Also once got pissed there with a ‘fette with whom I dallied. Fifteen year ago.

Over the other side of Fazza Road there’s a good side street boozer called the Gunmakers’.

The area of the City between Finsbury Circus and Old Street has several good pubs in it, of varying types. None is individually a contender but it’s another concentrated pocket that makes for a nice crawl.

strutter

a beer at a suitable haunt would certainly be in order upon my return to the jurisdiction 

I’m your man.

Pubs is one of my specialist subjects.

I seem to remember a few drunken nights with u in the shed catty old sun.  You bummed camel lights off me and told us about the bad lands of the valleys.

Great thread Laz.  A few comments:

The Japanese themed bar off Charterhouse St was called Fluid and was generally pretty lame and usually empty - but I still kinda liked it.They did serve Asahi when it was not common in London in the early-mid noughties.

The Old Red Cow is definitely still going but, as mentioned, is now a tap room / crafty place. Not a bad thing but it's expensive - 50p + more than you'd expect to pay for each pint. As such I stick to the hand and shears or rising sun.

Beduin was bloody awful but we still went there for the late one. I think it may still be going? I had a leaving bash in there before I went off travelling in 2004.

Yes, the Hogsheads' were very New Labour / early noughty shite bars. I remember the one on Fetter Lane (which I used to go to) which was up until recently a P&P / slug and lettuce but is now the Editor's Tap - I assume a 'tap room'.

 

I have a pint of Asahi in my hand as I type, Drapz, as it goes.

You well? You’re a rare sight these days. You ever going to show up to a rofdrinks? I’d fly in for that

Is Beduin the same location as Living Room? That also opened late. I’ve definitely been to both

you sound like a tap room sceptic

I’m actually a fan of the type although obviously I wouldn’t want all pubs to be that way 

Hello Laz, yes I am well and I've only just started posting for the first time in several years in the last couple of weeks. Will likely be more regular now. Are you in HK or North Finchley?

Dividing my time between the two, although it’s 90% HK, 9.9% other places, 0.1% the Finchy-Winch - for now.

Currently sans job, out of choice I emphasise 

p.s. you been to the Bohemia in N Finch? Good place IMO

Thursday evening haunt when I worked in Liverpool Street used to be Bangers.... because it was the only fvcking place that didn't have 200 decibel music blasting out.  I think it's below the Red Lion, a pub so small the outside is the only place to stand, and I really don't understand why anyone would go to a pub for, effectively, a takeaway pint?

Pubs near Liverpool Street is a different thread, Doggers... You turn to start one...

Yeah, thanks for the cigs wango.  Back then I was smoking about 10 a night but refusing to admit to myself I smoked so I never bought cigs. 

I was always a little wary of the 'shed though, mainly because one of the partners I worked for in my first seat had a habit of sneaking down there for a quick drink late in the night stone cold sober (she would then head back up to the office until stupid O'clock).  At least a couple of times the following morning I woke up with the realization that I had had a 'conversation' with her the night before when I was LONG past the point of being capable of coherent speech. 

For me, the farringdon/clerkenwell area has, on a mean average, the best pubs in London. (The Three Kings also used to have one of the best pub signs in London - Henry, Elvis and Kong).

And just north of there you get some good gastropubs: Easton, Peasent, Well etc...

This thread is a great read and brings back a lot of good memories.

Couple of honourable mentions for the Fox on Paul St and the Princess (of Shoreditch?), which i think was further along.

Being from not-London, i was intrigued when i arrived by the many places which were effectively pubs on the ground floor with some kind of pseudo-club downstairs. Made for nights which could start off with a seemingly innocuous few drinks and then develop into epic adventures (by 'epic adventures' i mean going to Abacus and shagging some bird from another firm). There was a good one around Clerkenwell which had a downstairs area doing pornstar martinis served with a champagne chaser. Cant remember which. Maybe the Three Kings. Also some places like that near Slaughter and May around Tabernacle Street which met with a sticky end in a fire a few years ago.

Always had a soft spot for the Water Poet. Nicely located and with a beer garden to compensate for generally rubbish beer. Sad to hear it had closed recently.

I know Bangers, Doggo, and it's good. I totally understand why people drink outside pubs, but I'd have to say that, possessed as it is of a certin big-windowed Victorian corner pub elegance, the Red Lion is fairly mediocre.

Never heard of the Easton, but the district it's in, just east of Fazza Rd, looks to be a trove of unexplored pubwunda

Laz - u should come down to my manor and do the watercress line ale train

The Fox is one of the ones I was referring to in the south of Old Street edgelands.

The one you're talking about that died in the fire was the Prophet on Worship Street. That was really, really good. An early date with my wife happened there, and more than a couple of work drinks. Nowadays there's quite a good football-and-craft-beer bar on the other side of Worship St in the back of the Montcalm Hotel.

Best pub/club combo I ever experienced was the Bedford at Balham. I went there in 2000 as a first seat trainee and loved it because it was full of people my age dancing to the music we loved. I actually went back in 2010 and... loved it because it was full of people my age dancing to the music we loved.

we must make that happen, wang

The Horse & Groom, the Fox, The King's Arms, the Windmill,and the Griffin (not that one). And the Crown & Shuttle over on the top end of B-Gate

Going slightly off-piste from the original thread premise, the Winchester on Essex Road was a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Never heard of the Easton, but the district it's in, just east of Fazza Rd, looks to be a trove of unexplored pubwunda

Not really there, as you hit Exmouth market and the Spa Green/Finsbury estates.

But there are a few as you wind your way up to Angel: Old China Hand, Union Tavern, the aforementioned Harlequin, Shakespeare's Head and George and Monkey (RIP Filthy MacNastys)

Obadiah, those are exactly the pubs I'm talking about. Shakey's heid has to be one of the finest flat roof pubs in London.

https://www.starpubs.co.uk/pubs/red-beret

If you are on flat roof pubs... I give you this as the most depressing pub ever.  It was opposite my old secretaries house, frequented entirely by neo nazi's and national front and even now it has reopened the press referred to its "chequered past"..  

Inside has the feel of hope abandoned, bitterness and depression...

 

Alright Laz, not a tap room sceptic, actually a bit of a fan of the whole scene, but just a bit of a sneering cynic when glass fronted previously shite City bars suddenly all turn into 'tap rooms'.

Beduin bar is, according to my google search, surprisingly still ticking along. My Farringdon/Smithfield late one (rare) is currently Oriole which is a supreme cocktail bar but I may pop my head into Beduin bar for old times sake.

The Bohemia was, in its earliest incarnation called the Fringilla & Firkin circa 1996, part of the Firkin chain. It turned into a massive O'Neills a few years later, where it used to kick off regularly, and then that closed down in around 2010-12 I think. Then came the Bohemia.

Laz, I think it was Sosho (a good spot) at the bottom eastern end of Tabernacle St that was actually gutted by the fire in March 2010. The Worship and the Prophet were close and on Worship St just across the road. Both acceptable bars. I remember drawing some saucy teacher with long black hair massive knockers out of either Worship or Prophet late in 2008. I lived within 3 minute walk of the bar and initial meeting to meating was around 45 mins. 

That looks like it could have been a pretty grim pub in its day Doggo although I’m glad they have invested some effort and money to try to give it new life. Often a change or management is the main thing that’s needed. Another popular way to “improve” a pub is just jack the beer prices up until the neo-nazis can’t afford it any more, but if your pub is not in a well-off area you’ll price most of the locals out first (pub trouble-causers in my experience are often not the poorest regulars). That one, um, doesn’t look like it’s in the smartest part of Chelmsford eh.

There’s only one other Red Beret pub in England - it’s in Wythenshawe in Manchester and is a broadly similar flat-roof structure.

Good tales Drapo. You must have been a proper hoxton trendy if you lived round there.

I vaguely remember Sosho. The Prophet was definitely taken out in that same fire tho. It gutted an entire block.

ha, no not a Hoxton trendy just a miserable junior corporate lawyer drinking too much and struggling to get laid (then)

Yes, google tells me Prophet and Sosho were both taken out by that fire.

Fans of this thread should check out this video and particularly the shot at 3:13 in which a horse-drawn milk float emerges from a side street.

The Midland Bank branch on the corner is now the Butcher's Hook and Cleaver.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLPlJsoVq8k

Also good is this pic, which shows the area that became the Barbican in the immediate postwar period. The big complex of buildings in the foreground is the Whitbread brewery on Chiswell St, which had its own on-site fire brigade and thus was able to give the Blitz the finger. The southern half of this site - furthest from camera - is now the HQ of Linklaters.  You can see how Silk St, the road running down the near side of the brewery, used to continue south through what is now the Barbican towards what became London Wall, crossing the City widened lines on an overbridge. Milton Street and Moor Lane, further back, do likewise. The tracks were realigned and filled in and are now under the Barbican and the Moorfields complex.

The small block of buildings standing up and to the right from the brewery is roughly where the Citypoint plaza now is. You can see the taller, still standing blocks on Moorgate beyond. as well as Moorgate station open to the air.

Barbican site

* small block of buildings up and to the LEFT from the Brewery

In this photo, which shows St. Giles Cripplegate, now surrounded by the Barbican centre, you can also see the new, white modernist block Roman House, which still stands at the bend in Fore Street opposite the Wood St restaurant. The Barbican was built around it on two sides and the London Wall highwalk on the other two. Never mind the Barbican; none of London Wall had even been built when this photo was taken. Roman House must have been one of the very first postwar office blocks built in the City:

 

Church and Roman Hse

Bedouin Bar - many many nights there

rising sun best pub in area imo 

Great pics Laz. I've seen these before. In the second pic you can see historic Fore St and the original Moor House at the top (eastern end)? 

Roman House was converted into luxury apartments around 7 years ago and it was also built on the spot of the first bomb to fall. Was this the reason they built on it first?

In the first pic you can see the Fire Station that was so instrumental in the blitz and that was abandoned on the famous night (Dec 30 1940?) when the whole Cripplegate and St Paul's area was firebombed. It was located in what is now the middle of the Barbican lake.

At the very top right of the last shot you can also see a very early postwar block that also survived until very recently - the long thin white concrete block that used to run along the north side of Fore St between Moor Lane and the back of Moor House. I think it was a telephone exchange, or part of it was. That may explain why it was only pulled down in about 2012. It has an Adolfo Dominguez shop in the ground floor facing Fore St. You can still find this building on Streetview from 2008 and nose around the area as it was then. There was an utterly forgotten little cafe buried under the back of New Moor House on Fore St Avenue, called the Moorgate Buttery. I think it was actually directly under the City Boot (qv).

Drapz - building on Fore St in the second pic is the telephone exchange - sire of Moor House (yet to be built at the time of the photo, I think) was just out of the top of the shot i.e. eastwards.

I'd forgotten that about Roman House being the site of the first bomb. Good info

I know this started as a pub thread, but anyway, here is another vintage view of the City. Although it's fairly easy to find immediate post-war aerial shots showing the bomb damage, and some promotional shots of the Barbican and London Wall when they were new, it's generally hard to find shots of the City in the postwar decades, at least if you're trying to scout a specific location.

So, finding out what used to be on a particular site, for instance, or more to the point what it looked like, is very difficult on the internet unless it was still standing when Google Streetview started in about 2008.

I have been searching for ages in vain for a shot of what the Linklaters building on Silk Street looked like before 1998 when they were refitted for the firm's move from Gresham Street. Milton House and Shire House were originally two separate buildings built in the 1970s after Whitbread sold half the brewery site, and were at one stage occupied by BP. Not a trace of them on the internet.

I even struggled for ages to find a photo of Linklaters' previous HQ Barrington House, despite the fact that it was a very significant building, the first large speculative office development in the City after the war. This link is the only picture of it I've been able to find online - it is a good photo tho. Was just near the guildhall on the north side of Gresham St:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/London-1957-Barrington-House-56-67-Gresham-S…

Anyway, this is a view looking south down Moor Lane from Chiswell Street, between Alban Gate (now the Addleshaws HQ) on the right and the old Merrill Lynch building (which faced Ropemaker St) left. I don't know the date, but it is before 2000 because in the background you can see that Britannic House hasn't been refurbished into Citypoint yet, the 60s buildings facing Moor Lane are still there and there's a footbridge that went over from Britannic House to the Barbican concourse opposite:

moor lane

Alright you lucky lucky people, I just hit a bit more paydirt in my quest for vintage City photos.

This photo is of the Lord Mayor's Show in circa 1980-82. It is taken looking down Wood St from the junction with London Wall. If the person who took this photo were to stand in the same place today, they would pretty much be in Pizza Express under Alban Gate (125 London Wall). This was taken about 10years before that was built. There was a footbridge across LW here; on the north side (behind the camera) was Lee House, one of the original LW tower blocks.

Looking down Wood St, at the very rear of the photo you can see the backs of Barrington House (LHS of Wood St, with partial brick facing) and Garrard House (RHS of Wood St behind the church tower, white concrete). The latter faced Gresham St between Wood St and Staining Lane, and was replaced by the building Schroders only recently moved out of (also called Garrard House). On the very left of the photo is the distinctive Wood St cop shop. On the far right is a long browny-grey building in classic brutalist style that ran along the south side of London Wall here between Wood and Noble Street. No idea what it was or who occupied it; it is quite prominent in photos of this area in the 1960s and 70s though, and a wider view can be seen at 1:38 in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLPlJsoVq8k

Loads more vintage Lord Mayor's Show street scenes here (including a really good shot of the old Plough pub on the Highwalk): https://alondoninheritance.com/eventsandceremonies/the-lord-mayors-show…

 

wood st

And finally (for it is my bedtime) a lovely shot looking west along London Wall from the junction with Moorgate. Left foreground, the lower block is Austral House, part of Slaughter and May's old complex. Behind it is City Tower, now 50 Basinghall, the only one of these towers still standing; and behind that you can just see Royex House, once home to Clifford Chance. Just nudging into the right of shot is Moor House, behind which is the Plough pub on the Highwalk; behind that, St. Alphage House and then Lee House. The rear of the two footbridges over LW is the Wood St one from which the photo above was taken.

Also in the foreground is a ramp down to an underground concourse. There was another one on the other side of London Wall, between the two footbridges. There also used to be a downramp on Moor Lane under the Barbican, opposite the back of Wagamama CityPoint. What weird underground citadel lurks down there, I don't know.

The road system here has since been remodelled so there is, generally, less pedestrian space on the left hand (south) side of the shot and more on the right/north. The grassy rounndabout that the bus is circling around has been incorporasted - tree still in situ and now a goodly size - into the pedestrianised space in front of Fox and The Globe pub.

 

LW

great posts laz

I spent a lot of time at one stage in the Harlequin. A top boozer. The Shakespeare's Head opposite, although flat roofed, was also delightful. Filthys, too, where I once met Pete Doherty. The Easton is glorious, and the Exmouth Arms is not bad.

Happy times, years ago now.

The demise of Filthy’s was a sad sad day.

Plus one for the Easton too.

 

CC’s 200 Aldersgate ziggurat, the first building in which I ever practised law, was built right across the end of this shot, in place of the low ore-war buildings you can see clustered at the end. The guy in the convertible in the film link I posted above drives around what is now the Museum of London roundabout, past these buildings, which look quite run down even in the mid sixties.

However you would never really have seen the CC building from the angle above because Alban Gate, which utterly changed (you might say ruined, and I would) the aspect, was built at almost exactly the same time.

The taller brick faced building just behind the CC site (appearing to the immediate left of Lee House but further back) was Bart’s doctors and nurses accommodation and stood right behind 200 Aldersgate in Little Britain. It was only very recently replaced by a square glass office block.

I wonder what the light-ish coloured blocky building in the horizon is. It looks like a modernist slab. It could be the massive old telephone exchange on Farringdon St just south of the Holborn Viaduct, or the postwar office block that used to stand further north on the other side of the road near Farringdon Station. Or it could even be the old Mirror Group monolith at the top of Fetter Lane.

The Easton is getting so many votes on here, I am going to have to prioritise a visit next time I am in town, even though I'd literally never heard of it before this thread.

Here are a couple of other photos. Analysis will follow.

First one is looking southeast down Cannon St from the top of St. Paul's, 1957:

London 57

 

 

Next one is taken two years later from a similar spot but looking slightly more directly east, over Cheapside:

Cheapside 57

 

Much to love in the first shot, taken by a Norwegian photographer on a holiday to London in 1957 and posted on Flickr by his son (the album is short but worth checking out.

Directly in the foreground is Festival Garden. The road coming in from the left is the southern end of New Change. The new brick faced building behind it is not actually the Allen & Overy building (originally the Bank of England extension) but a smaller building that used to stand on the opposite side of Watling St. from it. Second picture gives a clearer view of this arrangement. Note the rooftop space with curved windows - must have made an attractive board room or function space. This building had a nightclub in the bottom of it when I was a trainee in about 2001. Totally forget the name but it was v popular with young lawyers. Wang any ideas?

To the right across cannon street, the building under construction is the much-praised and distinctive Bracken House, which is still in use and looks much younger. You can already see the distinctive chamfered corners of the design. Behind this on the same side of Cannon St, across Friday St, the bomb site and old buildings were remodelled. The site now houses, as you move east, a squat (newly re-clad) office block with the Seahorse pub in the back of it, and the highly distinctive 30 Cannon Street, which is also a much loved building. In Bracken House and 30 Cannon Street, you nowadays have two of the City's most charismatic office blocks within 100 yards of one another.

On the right of shot, you can see the long barrel roof of Cannon St. station is either being removed, or has not been repaired after the war. It was removed and replaced by an office development using the "air rights". A large modernist block was constructed at the front of the station in the early 1960s, designed by the notorious John Poulson (whose schemes brought down Reginald Maudling and Newcastle's enigmatic leader T. Dan Smith). Poulson, who had a relationship of friendship and bribery with a British Rail surveyor called Graham Tunbridge, was not a good architect but the Cannon Street design was probably one of his better works. He got a lot of work out of BR and also designed City House in Leeds, and I think he may also have done Williams National House, which used to stand opposite Lovells on Holborn Viaduct, above the Thameslink tracks where Fleet Place House now stands.

The second photo is taken in 1959 and what is remarkable is how much has been built by this time. There were clusters of building activity in the post-war years with the first big developments tending to gather near stations. The western ends of Cheapside and Gresham Street were one early cluster - slightly earlier than London Wall to the north and more than a decade before the Barbican.

The photo obviously shows the One New Change complex that many ROFers will remember being home to Allen & Overy, although since the building was demolished in 2006 you have to be of fair vintage to remember even that. But it was actually built as an expanded administrative office for the BoE. It was opened the year after this shot was taken but is clearly structurally complete. The architect was Victor Heal, described by the Spectator as "a decent but dull conservative", and is characteristic of what has been termed the "King George VI" style (although like most other examples it was actually built well after his daughter took the throne); the style typically involved columns, arches, stepped massing and often the use of brick, but harnessed modern building technology; under the staid exterior was a steel frame of the type used to build skyscrapers.

The style was unpopular with critics, and Pevsner hated it. New Change had a wonderful curved frontage facing St. Paul's which gave it gravitas and even elegance, and I think it really ought to have been listed as very few examples of the type survive. I think the authorities probably baulked at having such a large site tied down by a massive and clearly outdated building. I worked in it briefly and while the offices were wonderful cosy remnants of a slower paced age, the lifts were awful, half the corridors finished in dead ends and to get from one office corridor to another you had to go through sections that looked like the loading bay of a hospital. Apparently its fire evac plan was the most complex the City had known.

An altogether more modern style building was Bucklersbury House, which is the boxy block fully side on to the camera further down Cannon St. It stood just SW of the Bank junction. You can see its steel frame being put up in the prior photo of two years earlier, left of shot roughly level with Cannon St. Bucklersbury House is of some personal resonance to me because, in its tatty noughties days, its basement housed a restaurant, Sri Thai, where I first met my wife. Bucklersbury, like Barrington House on Gresham St, was of commercial significance to a City still getting back on its feet almost 15yrs after the second world war; it was one of the earliest large speculative developments.

It is also worth alighting on the smaller, white, wedding cake like building just in front of Bucklersbury on its left hand side. David Kynaston, in his history of the City of London in this period, makes reference to Victor Heal and mentions that he also built an office for the Bank of London and South America at the junction of Queen St and Queen Victoria St around the same time, also in the King George VI style and also greeted in dusty fashion by critics. I think that must be the building in shot here - the site now occupied by the subsequent Aldermary House.

Barely visible over the back of One New Change is Bow Bells House, which ran down Bread St, from Cheapside to Watling St. This was an absolutely classic piece of fifties concrete modernism, with white concrete and blue spandrels. It was replaced by the building which now houses Aberdeen Asset Management, which is actually pretty faithful to its predecessor in style. Nearby, you can see the curved building at the top of Cheapside near Foster Lane. This is an unusually pretty building for its era and is going strong today after a refit a few years ago.

Finally, the roof has been taken off Cannon St station by this time and you can see - you might need to zoom in - Adelaide House at the northern end of London Bridge, a large white square block. This is nowadays Bryan Cave Berwin Leighton's HQ. It dates from 1925 and survived the war. It was also a very significant commercial block, the first large steel framed building in the City, the first with central ventilation and built around the telephone and electric office machinery. So significant is Adelaide House that it is one of the select group of office blocks to have a book dedicated to it (which I have yet to succeed in getting by paws on).

I could do this all day, and may do if my kids kip long enough... so, in the second photo, riiiiight in the upper left background, just to the right of the leftmost of the bottom row of "a" watermarks, pretty much the furthest individual building you can make out clearly is a blocky white building at an angle to the camera. I wonder if this is the building on the north side of Wormwood St. to the east of Old Broad St., the one with the King's Arms in the bottom. If I'd had to guess I would have said that building was a bit later than 1960 but it looks like it might be under construction in the photo.

Note also that the large plane tree at the junction of Wood St and Cheapside is there in 1960. Still in rude health.

One of the striking things (for me) about the first picture is that in my mind the stretch of distance shown, from St P to around the Tower feels a lot further than the picture suggests. I think this is because the area is a lot more built up now.

bumping this, which is by far the best thing on the board at present