A well-known street in London. Fleet Street started out as the track leading from the western gate in the city walls (called Ludgate), crossing the river Fleet and continuing westwards towards the royal palace and the abbey at Westminster. As London started to expand outwards it became one of the major routes between the City and Westminster.

Modern-day Fleet Street runs from Ludgate Circus at the bottom of Ludgate Hill where St. Paul's Cathedral stands, in a fairly straight line westwards towards the Strand. The river Fleet itself is long gone, having been paved over and almost forgotten about over three centuries ago (it's still there, underground, although its waters never see the light of day).

Fleet Street used to be the hub of the British newspaper industry. All of the country's major newspapers had their offices here, and their printing presses, so much so that "Fleet Street" became a phrase synonomous with journalism in the UK. Because the newspapers were printed late at night, Fleet Street would remain a hive of activity until well past midnight and it was common for shops and pubs round there to remain open well after the rest of London had shut down.

Fleet Street's decline started in the 1980s when modern production techniques meant that newspaper publishers were less reliant on typesetters and printers, but did need modern offices for the computers on which they now laid-out the papers. Rupert Murdoch moved his stable of titles to Wapping near the Tower of London, and after a long, bitter and at times very violent fight with the unions, eventually managed to shift the focus of newspaper publishing away from its traditional centre. Within eight years every other paper had followed suit, and now there are no national papers produced in Fleet Street.

Fleet Street is also where the mythical Sweeney Todd was supposed to have had his barber's shop, and is close to Dr Johnson's house. At its western end are the inns of court which are the centre of Britain's legal profession.


One of a very occasional series of writeups about London streets and landmarks.

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