Fleet Street is a street with a great past in the center of London. In the Middle Ages, mainly butchers settled around the stream Fleet. Around the 16th century, a canal was built for the river Fleet, so that nothing can be seen of the brook until today. The great history of Fleet Street in London began around 1500.
A man from Alsace named Wynkyn de Worde opened the first printing house. Over the next few centuries, many other printing companies followed. In 1702, possibly the world’s first daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, was founded here. Virtually all of England’s major newspapers followed. Fleet Street became one of the most famous street names in the world. According to a survey in 1980, only Wall Street in New York was better known than Fleet Street in London. “The Street of Printers” or “The Street of Media” became a symbol of the free press and a synonym for the world-famous British tabloids.
Newspapers were also printed in the 300 meters long Fleet Street. Every night, thousands of employees worked in the street for centuries, printing millions of newspapers on many nights. The editorial offices and administrations of many newspapers were also in Fleet Street.
The big end began in the 1980s. Most newspapers moved to new, much larger buildings, especially in Docklands. With the decline of the Port of London, long the largest port in the world, there was plenty of room here for the new, large press buildings. The expensive properties on Fleet Street, which had become too small, were sold by the press groups to investors in recent decades. Today, the buildings are mainly occupied by posh law firms, insurance companies, investment companies and the like. The Reuters news agency was the last major media group to leave Fleet Street in 2005.
Today, there is hardly anything left to see in Fleet Street from the great days. There isn’t even a museum for the printers and media companies or anything like that. But you can still feel the old, great time of Fleet Street when you walk through the street. In the house where the Goldman Sachs bank is now, there used to be Reuters. The Sun newspaper was at 154, the Daily Express was in the beautiful house with the Art Nouveau facade at 129 Fleet Street and the Daily Telegraph was at 135.
Our excursion tip
Getting to Fleet Street: there is no subway directly in Fleet Street but many stations in the vicinity. “Chancery Lande” is the nearest station. But also Farringdon, Barbican and St Pauls are less than 600 meters away. Fleet Street is in the center of London.
Places of interest near Fleet Street are for example St Pauls Cathedral or Covent Garden.