Viaduct Tavern

Greater London Central - London

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: II

126 Newgate Street
London, Smithfield

Tel: (020) 7600 1863




Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Nearby Station: City Thameslink

Station Distance: 150m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (City Thameslink) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

Built in 1874-5 and named after nearby Holborn Viaduct which had been constructed in 1863-9. The pub was refitted under architect Arthur Dixon in 1898-1900 with a varied and excellent collection of fittings. The bar is now a single space but would have been divided into a series of partitions as one can read from the sets of double doors. At the rear of the peninsula-style servery is a small, glazed-in office with fine etched glass and delicate woodwork. Delicate too is the small stillion in the middle of the servery with its arched woodwork and ornamental glass. The ceiling too (probably from 1874), with its swirling relief panels, is a fine sight. On the right-hand wall are three large paintings in marble surrounds depicting allegorical ladies, said to represent Agriculture, Commerce, Science and Fine Art who also stand on Holborn Viaduct. clear. The one on the left holds a wheatsheaf and presumably symbolises agriculture. The two central figures are set against London landmarks, including Tower Bridge which was completed in 1894. The panels are signed by one ‘Hal’. At the end of the stairs on the left is some rich red tiling and a very ornate mirror advertising Bass. At the rear of the pub is a sliding door leading to the private quarters above. You can usually visit the old cellars but don’t get taken in by the hoary old tale that this were prison cells!

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, Holborn 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 also a fine sight. Less attractive are the three paintings of languid ladies, signed ‘Hal’, on the right-hand wall, who, apparently, represent 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.

Visit at a quiet time (avoid lunchtimes and after 6) and you can ask for a trip down to the cellars which were supposedly the cells of the Gaol of the original Debtors Prison - there are 5 cells of which three can be inspected.

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