When it first opened in July 1900 on Central London Railway, St Paul’s Station was named ‘Post Office’, as the headquarters of the then General Post Office were a short distance away. It was also thought naming it St. Paul’s would cause confusion with the nearby rail station, which is now called Blackfriars. The tube station was renamed St. Paul’s in 1937, as by that time the mainline station had dropped that name.
Sadly it also another rather non-descript ’60s tube station building sadly. One of the few things I did like however is the old style ‘To Street’ sign as you start to ascend the escalators. That said, you easily forget about the drab station when you see the majestic St. Pauls Cathedral rising behind it.
To me, St. Paul’s is perhaps London’s most iconic building. The fact it is survived the blitz when much else around it was flattened only adds to it symbolism of the enduring spirit of London. Now, despite all the new skyscrapers going up around it, planning regulations still protect the view of the Cathedral from key points across the city.
The Pub: The Viaduct Tavern, 126 Newgate Street, EC1A 7AA
The pub is a short walk from the station along Newgate Street, heading North. It is located on the corner of the junction with Giltspur Street. It is also just before you reach Holborn Viaduct, hence the name. A few years back, a friend was helping me move flats and as we were driving over the Viaduct, his sat nav, voiced by John Cleese, authoritatively instructed us to turn off it which would have had us plunging onto the street below. Thankfully we didn’t and I am still here today…
The Viaduct Tavern is a pub with real history. The cellars used to be cells for the infamous Newgate prison, which was located opposite. Perhaps therefore unsurprisingly, it is said to be haunted by a ghost called Fred who lives in one of the cells. Providing Fred hasn’t spooked you, the interior of the pub is packed full of memorable features to look out for. On one wall, there are three paintings of women representing ‘Agriculture’, ‘Banking’ and ‘Arts’. Behind the bar there is an ornate wood and glass booth where back in Victorian times, the landlady would sell gin tokens to customers. The pub’s own website said this system was put in place because her own staff couldn’t always be trusted! The ceiling is painted in a traditional dark red which combines well with the chandelier lighting to further add to the historical atmosphere.
As a Fullers pub, you know where you are on the ale front with London Pride and other staples available. It was pretty rammed on our visit and we were very fortunate to grab a table shortly after arriving. This pub has a particularly unique interior which really needs to be seen first hand. Add that to a good atmosphere and decent beers on tap, it’s another central London pub I highly recommend! But get down there during the week, as it’s closed at weekends!