Blackfriars station opened on 30th May 1870 as the terminus of the Metropolitan District Railway’s extension from Westminster. The station itself feels very modern as it was closed from 2009-2012 and comprehensively refurbished and upgraded as part of the major redevelopment of Blackfriars rail station.
The rail station contains a rather curious display, preserved from the original building. Back in the day, ‘boat trains’ from Dover used to depart from here. As a result, the rail company displayed the locations you could reach not only by train, but by boat too. As you can see in the gallery, it gives you combinations such as Sittingbourne and Marseilles, and my personal favourite, Westgate on Sea and St Petersburg!
The Pub: The Blackfriar, 174 Queen Victoria Street EC4V 4EG
Leaving Blackfriars, you can’t miss The Blackfriar pub. It’s opposite the mainline station, perched as one of the few remaining traditional buildings within a sea of modern office blocks, with a suitably ornate exterior.
I first came across this pub on a random TV documentary I stumbled on hosted by Adam Hart-Davis, that enthusiastic chap who did a lot of history programmes several years back. He certainly got enthusiastic about this place, and it’s not hard to see why. The interior is a real treasure trove with monks on the ceiling and other classical touches. The back room(currently given over to diners) has a particularly endearing relief with more monks up to no good, as well as such good advice to us all as ‘don’t advertise, tell a gossip.’ There is a similar message above the bar ‘Tomorrow will be Friday’, if only that were the case!
It’s s Nicholsons pub so you get the standard range of ales and a similarly typical food menu. Given its lavish interior this pub attracts a lot of tourists, I’m certainly glad they see this rather than many of the ‘pseudo’ traditional pubs that lurk around Central London. There is also a fair sized outside seating area for sunny days.
Believe it or not, this pub was under threat from demolition back in the 1960s but was saved by a campaign led by Sir John Betjeman – who also helped save St Pancras station and lends his name to the pub I visited at that station.
With grand mosaics and excellent location, this gem of a pub is well worth a visit!