In 1957, Whitbread and Co. purchased an entire exhibition
that had been put together for the Festival of
Britain, following its return from a world tour.
A permanent home was required for its homecoming
to London, and Whitbread’s plan was to open
up a themed pub in the centre of the city that would
attract enthusiasts from around the world.
The subject of this exhibition was of course, Sherlock
Holmes, and it was not only the first, but also the
most important collection in the world to be based
on the famous detective.
The Inn that had been known as “The Northumberland
Arms”, standing on Northumberland Street, soon
became “The Sherlock Holmes”. With the
enthusiastic support and help of Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle’s family, the pub was filled throughout
with various artefacts and pieces recording the adventures
of the Master Detective, including such diverse items
as Dr Watson’s old service revolver, original
cartoons and the stuffed and mounted head of none
other than the Hound of the Baskervilles.
The main attraction however is a replica of Holmes’ and
Watson’s sitting room and study, which relate
to Sherlock Holmes and his exciting escapades. This
room is given pride of place adjacent to the restaurant
, where diners are able to view the whole area through
a large glass partition, with additional viewing
space through windows located in the hallway.
The exhibition items have not changed since they
were first installed, and are now complemented by
an interesting and nostalgic collection of television
and film stills, featuring the famous actors who
have played the Great Detective and his trusty sidekick,
Watson, down the years.
It was also at this venue where Holmes tracked down
Francis Hay Moulton in “The Noble Batchelors”.
Old Scotland Yard is just across the other side of
Northumberland Avenue, and the Turkish baths that
Holmes and Watson used to enjoy were right beside
the Hotel. It is still possible in fact to see the
entrance, which now forms part of the wall of the
bank in Craven Passage. With Charing Cross Station
immediately beside the pub, one can just imagine
the duo dashing off to catch a train into the countryside
on one of their hair raising adventures!