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On a quiet day in March 2005 I took a trip to Carmelite Street in E.C.4. For many years this was the home of Associated Newspapers Ltd, publishers of the Evening News, the Daily Mail and the magazine Weekend. Carmelite Street continues on from Whitefriars Street (which is just off Fleet Street). The offices of the Evening News were situated in Whitefriars Street between 1882 and 1902. Sadly, the building which once housed the Evening News in Whitefriars Street is long gone.

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Carmelite Street

In 1902 the newspaper relocated to Carmelite House (originally known as Harmsworth Buildings) in Carmelite Street, where it remained for several decades. Like Whitefriars Street, this is a very narrow road. Carmelite Street runs down a gentle slope to its south end, where it meets the Victoria Embankment, which itself extends along the north side of the river Thames. Long since vacated by Associated Newspapers, the original Carmelite House (built in 1898) still stands on the corner of Carmelite Street and Tallis Street, an impressive brick-built structure with mullioned windows. It is a grand old building with an ornate facade, certainly worthy of preservation. In 1936, construction was completed of a new purpose-built building situated next door to Carmelite House and extending to the Victoria Embankment. This particular building was named New Carmelite House and was used to expand the offices and printing presses of the Daily Mail and other Associated Newspapers publications. With one side facing the Victoria Embankment (this section of the building was in fact rebuilt in the early 1990s), the frontage facing Carmelite Street is one with the old Carmelite House. The two buildings were indeed joined together on every floor, though the forty-year gap between their respective dates of construction resulted in the two being architecturally very different. Although it is now occupied by a number of different companies, it is not hard to imagine the elegant old Carmelite House building as the home of the offices of the Evening News for so many years. For decades the area around Carmelite Street was said to reverberate to the mechanical clanging of the printing presses beneath Carmelite House. Every morning the roads in the immediate area were often jammed with lorries carrying enormous rolls of paper. Later in the day the distinctive red and yellow distribution vans were a familiar site as they drove off carrying hundreds of thousands of copies of the Evening News to various parts of London.

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Carmelite House

The buildings which stand in Whitefriars Street and Carmelite Street today were mostly constructed in the post-war period; some appear to be very new. Squeezed in amongst these are some very old buildings which have somehow managed to avoid demolition. One of these buildings houses The Harrow, a public house said to have been frequented by Evening News reporters. On a corner almost directly opposite the pub is an imposing building called Northcliffe House, the construction of which was completed in 1927. It was built on the historic site of the old Whitefriars Glass Works, which had occupied the space for over two hundred years. Prior to that, the corner on which Northcliffe House stands was the site of a great monastery built by the White Friars, or Carmelites, who came to London during the reign of Edward I. Incidentally, the name "Carmelite" is derived from this old monastic order. Indeed, it was revealed that the site was of further historical significance when during the process of demolition Roman foundations were found. Northcliffe House was purpose-built to contain the new offices of the Daily Mail newspaper (which were previously situated in Carmelite House alongside those of the Evening News). It was named after Harold Harmsworth's brother Alfred (Lord Northcliffe), who died in 1922.  In the years following the Second World War, the offices of the Evening News were located (with the Daily Mail) in Northcliffe House.

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Northcliffe House, Whitefriars Street

Today, Northcliffe House is a listed building, although it is not clear to what extent or purpose the building is being used. Although the original facade of the building remains intact, most of Northcliffe House was in fact demolished and subsequently rebuilt fairly recently. Back in 1988, Associated Newspapers moved their headquarters to Kensington, from which the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard (which absorbed the Evening News) are produced to this day. However, on one side of Northcliffe House there are old black and white photographs on display in several windows, placed there courtesy of Associated Newspapers Ltd. Accompanying the pictures, some of which depict various stages of the construction of Northcliffe House, are some informative notes which give details of the origins of Northcliffe House, its history and information about the printing technology that was once pioneered within the building. Finding these displays was a pleasant surprise, and although much of the architecture in both streets has changed drastically since the days of the newspaper, one can still get a vague sense of some of the old atmosphere in this area, which was for so long the home of the Evening News.

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Whitefriars Street

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Carmelite House

All photographs on this webpage are Copyright 2005 by Sue Wakefield.



Copyright 2006 Richard Simms