It was the sort of story line no one would have believed in the hard-drinking Fleet Street days of yesteryear: Some journalists were so keen to attend the London Press Club’s event to mark the end of The Street that they took the whole day off.
Journalists packed The Punch Tavern in Fleet Street for “The Long Lunch” to mark a milestone in British newspaper history.
The closure of the Sunday Post’s office earlier this year meant the end of an era which began when the first British daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, was published in Fleet Street in 1702.
Editors and senior journalists who had worked in Fleet Street joined London Press Club members, including many who are still in the industry, to pay homage to a very different world from today’s 24/7 operation.
They included former Fleet Street editors and media pundits Eve Pollard, Roy Greenslade, Bill Hagerty and Paul Connew.
London Press Club chairman Doug Wills said he and his fellow club directors were proud to have been able to mark such a momentous moment in the history of Fleet Street.
“It was marvellous that so many had found time to take part, even with some on national titles taking the day off to make sure they could attend,” he told the gathering at The Punch.
As well as a full house of journalists from the major media groups, the Press Club received wishes of support for the event from editors and journalists who found it impossible to attend because of deadlines.
One from Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig which was read out at the Punch Tavern reflected the spirit of the day and how the media industry has changed since Fleet Street’s famed long lunches: “Brilliant idea… I will be toasting you from my desk.”
The Long Lunch was sponsored by Associated British Ports. David Leighton, ABP’s head of Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, said: “It was fantastic to see so many journalists attend the Long Lunch to celebrate Fleet Street, the home of British journalism. It would be wonderful to see the Long Lunch become an annual event.
“It feels right that once a year there should be an opportunity to come together to pay tribute to Fleet Street’s special place in the life of the profession. As Friday also proved, it is certainly a great way to kick off the festive season.”