London Pubs No.3: The Viaduct Tavern


This impressive corner pub faces its famous namesake, Holborn Viaduct. Queen Victoria opened it in 1869, the Viaduct not the pub, although they were both opened in the same year. Holborn Viaduct connected Holborn with Newgate Street, avoiding the River Fleet below.
The pub has a large curved frontage, but the interior is surprisingly small. Many of the original features have survived. On one wall, three paintings of wistful maidens represent agriculture, banking and the arts. The ‘arts’ was attacked (some say shot, others bayoneted) by a drunken First World War soldier, and she still bears the scar.
There are gilded and silvered mirrors and decorated glass. At the back of the bar is a manager’s stall, a sort of office booth, made from beautifully carved hardwood and intricately engraved glass panels. The ornate ceiling is made from beaten copper and is supported by cast iron pillars.
The Viaduct Tavern and the Old Bailey opposite, were NOT built on the site of Newgate Prison, which continued until 1868. The cellars of the Viaduct are therefore NOT the former cells of the prison and despite the tours of them that can be arranged by appointment (they’re authentically skanky) they’re not cells. Still evocative and stinkily Victorian, though.

2 comments on “London Pubs No.3: The Viaduct Tavern”

  1. Gareth says:

    damn you Fowler!!! not the Mitre next, I beg you!

    i’m off for a pint now

  2. I.A.M. says:

    Has the author been following Herr Gareth? Hmm…

    So, are the ‘cells’ actually former gated storage rooms? Seems a bit odd, though. Space for non-paying patrons?

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