As with any big city, London is ever-changing. Iconic buildings and venues make way for exciting new projects all the time (or massive pub chains, it would seem). Just this week, Hackney said goodbye to F Cooke, the pie-and-mash shop that had spent the last 120 years serving hungry Londoners. And last month, the East End also saw Syd’s Coffee Stall disappear from Calvert Street, after 100 years of business (thankfully, the Museum of London will be putting the historic wooden hut on display).
And now, it’s been announced that Number 222 Strand – a Grade II-listed building once affectionately called ‘the most beautiful bank in London’ during its stint as a branch of Lloyds – is being transformed... into an enormous Wetherspoons.
Oddly, given the history of the building, this is actually quite fitting. When it opened in the nineteenth century, the grand building was a restaurant, with ornate tiled friezes, pillars and a fountain and playing host to London’s legal elite who practised law at the Royal Courts of Justice nearby. In 1886, the eatery closed and remained empty until it was turned into a luxurious Lloyds, preserving all the maximalist interiors.
Now, with those incredible decorative interiors still intact, it will once again serve up booze and food, only now at super-cheap prices. Approval was granted to the pub company last week, confirming that the ground floor and mezzanine will be transformed into a 27,000 sq ft dining and drinking area, catering to nearly 600 punters at any given time.
Cheap prices in a glorious, Grade II-listed space? Ours is a pint.
London is full of cosy boozers, and we’ve rounded up the best ones.
Need more history in your life? Step back in time by visiting one of London’s great museums.