Just as London was built around the River Thames, so Camden Lock grew out of the construction of the Regents Canal in the early 18th Century. A link between the Grand Union Canal and the Limehouse Docks on the Thames, the Regent’s Canal enabled goods to be moved by barge more easily from the industrial midlands to the great river for export to far-flung places in the British Empire.
Although the former industry of the canal is now a distant memory, Camden Lock remains a hub of commerce and a place that offers something truly unique to visitors from around the world. From t-shirts to antique furniture, Camden Market bustles with a distinct flavor of individual style mixed with period remnants of London’s transport systems of the past.
It was in early 1970s when the disused former industrial buildings and land were leased to a few creatively-minded individuals and before long Camden Lock market was born. Initially, it was just a few craft workshops and stalls but this soon grew into a weekend market located on the old cobbled Dingwall’s timber yard. Selling traditional craftwork, antiques, clothing and food, the market began to attract Londoners and tourists mainly because of the uniqueness of its location crisscrossed by the canal and rail lines. An old railway bridge emblazoned with the title “Camden Lock” on Chalk farm Road, welcomes pilgrims of all persuasions to a very special place.
Now in its third decade, Camden Market has come a long way since its humble beginnings and is now open for business 7-days a week, 52-weeks a year. Here is a low down on what you can find in the different parts of the market…
In operation since 1975, the original part of the market retains a distinctive charm all of its own. Located by where Camden Hight Street meets Chalk Farm Road, with its West, East and Middle Yards connected by Camden Lock Place, you can browse the shops and stalls selling leather goods, ethnic jewellery, juggling equipment, books and contemporary fashion along the cobbled walkways and the indoor Market Hall. It is here that you can hang with the “skinny-jeaned” masses at Dingwalls, one of Camden’s original music venues, or simply chill out on warm summer nights at the fantastic Terrace Bar which overlooks the Regent’s Canal.
Camden Stables Market
The Camden Stables Market is located further up Chalk Farm Road, and is a fascinating complex of 19th Century stables, horse hospital, workshops, warehouses and vaults all connected by a series of cobbled lanes. Redeveloped into a ‘place to go’ for the latest in fashion, casual wear, vintage clothing, household furniture, shoes, crafts and antiques, The Stables offer an experience unlike no other. The Victorian-feel of the place is emphasized by the well-lit shop units, which are housed within the old catacombs and railway arches, and the intermittent appearance of magnificent bronze horse sculptures in honour of a bygone era. More recently Proud Camden, an art gallery by day and a club by night, has recently opened in the heart of The Stables within the listed “horse hospital” building.
Buck Street Market, Camden Lock Market
Located behind Camden Tube Station, Buck Street Market features around 200 stalls constantly buzzing with shoppers looking for bargains. Neon club wear, blinging jewellery, gothic-inspired clothing, festishtic footwear and the Camden Town “uniform” of jeans and t-shirt are all up for grabs in this hectic maze of business enterprise. You can always pop into the Bucks Head pub, located on the corner of Buck Street and Camden High Street, to grab some refreshment and watch the “Camden Town” characters shamble on by from the comfort of a battered old leather sofa inside.
Inverness street camden
On the opposite side of the High Street directly across from the Buck Street Market is Inverness Street, a small street that has been the location of a popular fruit and veg market supplying the local community with its 5-a-day since 1900. Although in recent years, stalls selling clothing, souvenirs and other “bits and bobs” have become more prevalent, you are still able to purchase fresh produce from the garrulous greengrocers on the street. A strip of continental style bars, cafes and clubs line one side of the street and as night falls a party atmosphere takes over and goes on till late. All of Camden’s “rock n roll” wannabes head this way to have a drink and be seen at The Good Mixer, a pub situated on the corner where Inverness meets Arlington Road.
Camden Lock Village
“Camden Town is burning down”… so said Amy Winehouse in her 2008 Grammy’s acceptance speech and she was right, well almost. There was a fire but it was restricted to the area along Regents Canal towpath on the opposite side of the bridge in relation to Camden Lock. Turning the devastation of the fire into a transformative experience the site has since been redeveloped and renovated, giving Camden Lock Village a better open layout and extra entrances. It thrives with more than 500 attractive independent shop-units selling a varied and exciting range of products, not just clothing and accessories but more unusual items such as drums and glass engraving.