Friend at Hand was built in 1735 at the time of the Marylebone Road and adjoining Nash Terraces. The first ever omnibus service
from Holborn stopped here. The original service of one coach each way was soon being increased to a dozen journeys per day. In
later years, the world’s first underground railway, the Metropolitan line was constructed under the road, a few feet from the tavern.
Many famous and infamous characters have been patrons of the globe including Charles Dickens who learned of the tragic death of
his daughter whilst delivering a lecture. William Pitt the younger was born close by and was certainly a customer. He was prescribed
alcohol for pleurisy as a baby and by the age of 12 was an alcoholic. He continued drinking steadily, so much so that, by the age of 24
he was made prime minister. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle worked in nearby Park Road and would have been a regular diner along with the
writers, critics and glitterati who frequented the tavern.
In 1836 the publican, one William Thornton, being ill in bed from overconsumption, sent his barmaid to the cellar for liquor.
When she returned she found him dead with his throat cut, at least that was her story. Suicide was accepted by the coroner but
perhaps not by William whose ghost still walks here from time to time.
Today, the tavern remains much as it did in the 18th century serving traditional English food and ale.
Enjoy your visit, pay no attention to “Old William”