Viaduct Tavern

126 Newgate Street,

This pub is one of London’s Real Heritage Pubs (ie on CAMRA’s London Regional Inventory of Pub Interiors of Special Historic Interest) where the description is as follows: “This popular Fuller’s pub sweeps majestically round the corner of Newgate Street and Giltspur Street. It was built in 1874 but the wonderful fittings we see today are due to a remodelling by Arthur Dixon in 1898-1900 at the height of the fin de siècle pub-building boom. The separate drinking areas (as indicated by the multiple outside doors) have gone but there is an amazing amount of excellent decoration. The etched, gilded and cut-glass panels at the rear are truly spectacular and are the equal of the work at the Princess Louise, WC1. Another highlight is the small, glazed-in office in the rear of the serving area that was used for conducting the administration of the pub. It has fine etched glass and delicate woodwork. Delicate is also the word to describe the small stillion in the middle of the servery with its arched woodwork and ornamented glass. The ceiling too (which probably dates from the original build in 1874), with its swirling relief panels, is a fine sight. Less so the three paintings of languid ladies, signed ‘Hal’, on the right-hand wall who simper their way into representing agriculture, commerce, industry and art. They are set in an arcade with extensive marble work. Don’t miss the bar counter itself which has unusual, bold, arched decoration. A final curiosity is the heavily carved, sliding door at the rear to the private quarters above. History underneath: In the cellars are remains of cells from the notorious Newgate Prison, notorious for its appalling conditions until rebuilt in 1770-8. If the pub isn’t too busy, do ask to have a look at them. The prison was demolished in 1902 to make way for the Central Criminal Court (aka the Old Bailey).”

The pub is also a grade II listed building and the listing description is as follows: “Public House. 1874-5; interior remodelled 1898-1900 by Arthur Dixon. Granite to ground floor; upper floor of gault brick with painted stone dressings; slate mansard roof; brick end stacks with moulded stone cornices. Curved corner site. Italianate style. 4-storeys; 6-window range with additional bay to ground floor. Ground floor articulated by grey and red granite piers with festooned Ionic capitals to red granite frieze with moulded grey cornices: three doorways with half-glazed double door set in recessed lobbies with bracketed semicircular arched arches to outer bays, all having relief carving in Flemish Renaissance style with Medallion portraits to spandrels of outer arches; 3-light plate-glass windows with similar relief craving to mullions and transoms. Plate-glass sashes to upper-floor windows set in raised architraves: relief-carved friezes and bracketed cornices to first-floor windows pedimental second-floor windows, and relief-carved frieze over third-floor windows divided by pilasters with foliate capitals; dentilled cornice; moulded cornices to dormer windows. Interior: good ground-floor bar interior, quadrant-shaped, with many original fittings, including cut and etched glass panels to fine Jacobethan-style counter and semicircular arched hood set in front of rear doorway with relief-carved panels; arcaded panelling to bar. Marbled wood piers to enriched plaster frieze with cherub heads, shell-coved cornice and strapwork ceiling. Wall to right has tall mirrors alternating with three fine paintings of Pre-Raphaelite style women by Hal, 1898-1900, all set in cream, green and orange marble and alabaster architraves. Included for its fine pub interior, particularly the exceptional paintings.”

The Viaduct Tavern featured on the Cloth, Meat, Diamonds and Leather: Evening Crawl of Smithfield and Clerkenwell in April 2011.