Camden Market - a brief history

Posted in Visitor Information

Camden Market is one of London's most popular weekend tourist attractions, offering fashion and crafts; a mix of people and foods from every corner of the world. The area has been made famous by films such as 'Withnail & I', pop icons 'Madness' & Oasis, and historic writers such as George Orwell, Mary Shelley and Charles Dickens.

The Camden Market we know today is along way from the way it was in the 1800s and a short history of this make this clearer. It was in the 1790s that the Earl of Camden began developing the land around what is now Camden High Street. Unlike today the Camden Town of of this period was merely a stop off point en route to Hampstead. Echoes of the past can still be seen today: the pub now called "the Worlds End" was formerly the public house called the "Mother Red Cap". In fact it wasn't until 100 years later that the market area became anything more than undeveloped land. The Regent's Canal was built during in the 1870s and this canal now forms the centre piece of the Lock market. What this brought to Camden was commerce.

The lock connected with the main trade routes and as a result saw a blossoming in warehouse and production lines whoose products were then fed up the river. This prosperity was short lived though as changes in transportation made shipping too expensive. Because of this the buildings and warehouses, which today take the shape of expensive apartments overlooking the canal, closed down and moved on. The area was then left to decay. It wasn't until the 1970s that three men had an idea to transform the area around Camden Lock into an arts and crafts market.

They approached British Waterways and obtained the rights to lease from them some of the properties to realise this idea. As news of Camden travelled so to the market area became more popular and this saw the addition of further market stall areas. The Camden market of today has now less than 4 distinct markets and is complimented by shops with clothes and merchandising from around the world. Camden Market is a shoppers paradise!