London is full of surprises, and I’ve discovered a hidden gem just behind Fleet Street near Ludgate Circus: The St Bride Institute. Formerly a printing school, it now houses a lecture room , conference facilities, a fringe theatre, and most importantly the St Bride Typographic library (staffed by volunteers from 11-6pm every Wednesday). They also run educational workshops on subjects such as the (almost) lost art of letterpress printing.
The top end of Fleet Street wil always be associated with print, even though the newspapers are no longer there. If you come out of The St Bride Institute, via a quick look at St Bride’s church, onto Fleet street, you will see the old Express building across the road, with the Art Deco neon signs still in the window. A little further up you will see the old Telegraph building (top right), looking like a cross between an Art Deco New York building and an Egyptian temple. Other typographic delights in the area are the Watts Memorial at Postman’s Park, a typographic stone sculpture outside the Museum of London (bottom left), beautiful carved lettering by Richard Kindersley (bottom right) on a memorial at the back of St Paul’s cathedral, and impressive lettering on the fascia of the old St Paul’s school.
If you feel in need of a drink after all your cultural activity, I can recommend the historical Punch Tavern on Fleet Street, watering hole of choice for printers and hacks alike from days of old. Good health!