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Home > London > EC4 > Old King Lud

Old King Lud

Date of photo: 1981

Picture source: Penny Samuels

The Old King Lud was situated at 12 Ludgate Circus. This pub was built in 1870.  In 1894 it was purchased by Isaac Levy, founder of the Levy & Franks pub chain, probably the first chain set up specifically with the intention of providing affordable lunches to office workers, as well as alcoholic refreshment.  The company eventually evolved into the Chef & Brewer pub chain, of which the King Lud was a part, selling beers from the Whitbread Brewery.  Very much a landmark pub, by 1981 it had taken the name Old King Lud, to distinguish itself from the New King Lud which had opened a few doors away.  A brief period of closure in the early 1990s was ended with the pub re-opening in 1993 as the Hogshead in Ludgate, flagship of Whitbreadís Hogshead chain and a serious attempt to establish a show-piece real ale pub Ė although many baulked at having to pay £1:80 a pint.  By this time it only occupied a part of its former extent, with new businesses above.  In 2002 the name was abbreviated to Hogshead, although I donít think it ever received the dumbed-downĎ Hogs Headí name given to some others in the chain (although I might be wrong).  The pub closed in 2005 and was converted to mixed bank and cafe use.
When I worked in Fleet Street in through 1979-1980 it was a really beautiful Victorian pub. Carved wood, rich velvet wallpapers and smoked glass windows, one of which I distinctly recall claimed that the Old King Lud was the home of Welsh Rarebit. I donít think that any place can legitimately claim such a thing but they certainly served up a good plate of it. Very sad to see it completely disappeared; it was a proper London pub for city workers.
Bert Fiveash (October 2013)
I worked for GPO Overseas Telegraphs at Electra House on the Embankment 1968 to 1970. The King Lud was one of our favourite locals and it certainly was a lovely Victorian - style pub. One of my main memories was the super four-piece band that played there every Friday night.
Vincent Ohora (May 2014)
Used to be a drinking favourite when I was training as an accountant at the (equally defunct) Touche Ross on Farringdon. I remember watching Arsenal Lose in the Cup Winners cup final to Zaragoza, (1995) as Nayim famously (or infamously) lobbed David Seaman from the half way line to wine in the last minute of extra time. When this became a Santander I often thought it was Bankers Revenge for all the great old banks that had become Pubs (Counting House, Old Bank of England, Knights Templar).
Simon Cottee (December 2016)
My Grandparents Jack and Jessie Ryan ran this pub for quite a few years in the 30's and 40's and also the White Swan on Farringdon Road? Where there was a drawing club upstairs.My Grandfather appeared in many of the cartoon drawings in the papers and magazines like Punch and Daily Mail at the time as many of the writers and illustrators drank in there. A copy of one appeared in an article in the Telegraph a couple of years ago.
Sue Williams (June 2018)
My parents visited the pub in the seventies (we live in Canada) and signed the guest book. I visited in 1989, and found their names in the guest book. I visited again in the 90s, don't remember that date. It was a bit of a pilgrimage site, considering my ancestry.
Jane Ludgate (June 2018)
I remember going to the king lud on bonfire night in the mid 1960s (probably 1966), champion Jack Dupree the legendary blues man was playing the piano. My pal and I were sat next to him, well some cockney louts came in looking for trouble, they picked on us, they got more than they bargained for cos Jack Dupree, slammed the lid on the.piano, stood up and set about them, it didn't take long, when he sat down, he whispered to me "that's why they call me Champion Jack", a great man and a great pub.
Robert Spence (November 2018)
My father was a writer called A Alvarez (poetry editor and critic of the Observer in the 1960s, discovering and introducing Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Robert Lowell amongst others to British leadership.) His motherís grandfather was Isaac Levy and my fatherís motherís father was known as Dickie Levy. He took over Levy and Franks from Isaac, and then Dadís uncle, his mumís brother Teddy did took it on from Dickie, I believe. They both expanded the business with string of hotels on the south coast. My Dad wrote about a fancy do at the King Lud when he was a young boy.
Kate Cogan (October 2020)

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Name Dates Comments
Kevin Aitchison 1968 I had just arrived from NZ and it was my first job in europe.The manager whose name I forget had been a sports journalist. The job was fantastic so many characters drank there.
Garry H 1987/1988 Worked as live in staff for a year. I remember well, the horse drawn dray every Thursday at 6.30am. Got fired eventually, along with rest of staff due to bad stocks. So promptly walked down the road and worked at the White Swan in Farringdon St instead. The Lud was a truly beautiful Victorian pub, which rattled like hell everytime a train went by, or should I say over.!.
Richard Lock 1977/1980 I was raised as a baby there with the smell of whiskey and cigars I would love to know more about my up bringing. My parents were Terry and Carron lock formerly Carron Doyle. I'm 40 this year and would really appreciate any information i can get.
Doreen Hale 1985/1989 Waitress in the rear restaurant, also served in the bar, the managers were Ray and Dawn, they had a baby. Had a great time there loved it, used to get a lot of Australian staff living in.
Ernest Carter 1975 I was one of the DJ's that did gigs at the pub for several months. My stage name was Allan Davis. I moved to California in 1981.
David 1967/1974 Proposed to my first wife there, and regularly had a lunchtime drink there when I worked in Snow Hill by Smithfield market, about 1973
Other Photos
Date of photo: 1969

Picture source: Vincent Ohora

Picture source: Stephen Harris