I’ve just added the City of London Schedule of works and road closures website to my favourites. Not exactly bed time reading, but as I found out this week invaluable if you don’t want to waste valuable time and disrupt your plans and schedules.
This all came about because this week despite all the warnings I ventured out into the City with the temperature wavering around 39 degrees (102 F). You’d think at my age I’d know better?
The reason for this was fueled by my excitement over a new audio tour I had just written and I wanted to make sure it worked before publishing it. I arrived outside Blackfriars station and opened the app and commenced the tour. Introduction passed without a hitch and then the first route instruction triggered by the GPS kicked in just where I wanted them to, the next three locations proceeded in a similar vein. Emerging into Salisbury Court just off of Fleet Street I began to look forward to a story which I have always enjoyed telling, one of vendetta and murder in the 1600s and set off towards the place I had designated, when I was brought up mid stride. I’m not sure if my jaw actually dropped but it was one of those moments.
For instead of the entrance to a small alley I was faced with a very large building site. Oh well there’s two other points to access the alley, known as Hanging Sword Alley, so I set off on an improvised detour. However, I had underestimated the scale of the building works and both are now hidden behind wooden hoardings.
Finding some shade, I looked at the aforementioned City website and low and behold there it was in bold print. I had been standing on the same site not three weeks previously and there was no hint that this was about to happen. Then it dawned on me, this is the start of the somewhat divisive development to create a legal quarter within this part of the City. The tired 1970s office blocks are to disappear as they deserve, but a number of early 20th century buildings facing Fleet Street are also destined for the chop.
It was decidedly the right time for a beer and as my sortie was two fold I decided to adjourn to the nearby Hack & Hops for a restorative. The reason that I plumped for this pub is that I have just started a project to catalogue all the pubs within the boundaries of the City. I had never crossed the threshold before and on previous visits I had deferred the opportunity due to time constraints, thinking, “next time I’ll drop in.” Well it’s safe to say I’ll never drink in the Hack & Hops, once known as the Coach & Horses ‘ cus it’s been demolished!. My pub bible describes it as having an “interesting five bay front with debased classical pilasters, large consoles carrying the facia and four floors above.” I’d have been happy just to have seen a nice cold pint of IPA. Development? Don’t get me started.