Many people don’t realize that Camden Market is actually composed of multiple different markets. So far, I have had the privilege to explore the Main Street Market, The Stables Market, Camden Lock Market, and Camden Lock Village. Every part of Camden Market is full of stores that appeal to both locals and tourists a like. Sweatshirts referencing various television shows, chainstores, boutiques, food vendors on almost every corner- it is impossible not to be impressed by the sheer depth of the place.
Main Street Market
Each part of Camden Market has it’s own unique style, that-aside from ownership of the market- being the only reason I could see for one giant market having six different locations. The Main Street Market is the first stop right off of the Tube. It’s full of stores, some chains some boutiques, each with it’s own personality. Some girly, some gothic, some retro, and so on and so forth. There’s even a Doc Marten’s store, which is probably more foreign to me than it should be, but forgive me and my sheltered Midwestern upbringing. Occasionally, a pub will find its way into the mix (it’s London, of course there are pubs). Most things on the main street, however, tend to be a little bit more expensive than other places later along the road.
Camden Lock Market
The Camden Lock Market is home to many handcrafted wares and food stands. Every shop in Camden Lock has unique items for some really great prices, even after the exchange rate it taken into account. A lot of Camden Lock is also housed indoors, so it’s a wonderful place to shop or browse while you escape the rain or the cold. There are also a lot of cute clothing shops, full of dresses, tanks, capes, coats- you name it, it exists somewhere within this market. One of the coolest places in Camden Lock is Chin Chin’s! It’s an ice cream parlor located on the bottom level, with ice cream that is legen- wait for it- dary. Though I have not yet had a chance to try it (I had just finished stuffing my face with a Nutella banana crepe), my friends said it was literally amazing. Do not misunderstand, I will eat this ice cream eventually. I have not even seen all of Camden! Of course I have to come back!
The Horse Stables Market
Buried in the depths of Camden Lock (though there is most certainly a more prominent entrance), is the Horse Stables Market. Unfortunately, many of the vendors do not want customers to take pictures of their stalls in order to protect their stores individual wares, so I was unable to take many pictures in the Horse Stables Market (not that I am good at taking pictures in the first place). Almost all of the stalls are made of wood and beautiful chandeliers dangle from the ceiling. If you are into antiques, real souvenirs, or thrifting, the Horse Stables Market is definitely the place. From vintage clothing to find china, from oil paintings and tapestries, almost everything was either hand crafted or carefully looked after to maintain its pristine condition. Food vendors hand out samples more than people actually buy food, and shop keepers are almost always willing to casually chat for a moment or two. Some things can get a little price-y here as well, depending on the shop, but no matter.
Camden Lock Village Market
Nestled snugly along the Regents Canal is a row of what seem to be shacks, each painted with a unique artwork to make it’s doors stand out among the the sea of other similar shacks. The Camden Lock Village Market is easy to miss. For starters, it’s main entrance is directly across from the entrance to the Camden Lock Market, which (in case you missed the photo above), is elevated, large, and bright. The entrance to Camden Lock Village is not really any of that. The only thing that makes the entrance remotely stand out are the vespa seats that line the canal where people can eat. But down the narrow path lies a bunch of little shops, close in size and proximity, but each very different. Some with knock-off merchandize, others with thrifted or handcrafted goods, but all providing Camden Lock Village Market with a lot of charm.
And it no longer exists.
I warn you that, here, it gets a little bit educational.
On Friday, January 16 at 6PM, this branch of Camden Market has closed until further notice (which, from what I understand, means forever). I first stumbled upon Camden Market Lock Village, less commonly referred to as Hawley Wharf, while wandering through the main road of the market and decided to give it the ole once over. Once inside, my friend and I noticed that everything was discounted and many of the shops were either closed and abandoned, or filled with angered or disgruntled shop owners and eager to unload inventory. This resulted in uncomfortably low prices, short interactions with the shop owners, and a curious student who just wanted to know how some place so beautiful could close.
One of the shop owners who was open to answering any of the questions that I had was the owner of The Pink Lady, pictured above, a small accessory booth on the further end of the strip. She could not tell me much, only that on January 1, all of the vendors in the area were told that their doors were to close without giving them much information. Maybe she did not want to tell me the reason, but no other shop owners that I asked had any answers for me either.
Well I have never been one to let sleeping dogs lie.
It took a lot of searching, and by that I mean looking 2-3 pages deep on the Google search results before finding plausible answers. In November of 2013 the BBC published an article about HS2, a high speed train that would connect London first as far as Cannok, which is just outside of Birmingham, and later connect to both Manchester and Leeds. Back in 2013, there was a lot of concern that this sort of railway, which would cut through Camden, would cause substantial economic and employment damages to Camden Town. Though this report is not specific as to what specific parts of the Camden Market would be affected, according to the Interactive HS2 Map, the station would technically be in Euston, just outside of Camden, but a viaduct would extend further outside of Camden.
Another article published more recently by the Camden New Journal sites that the area would be undergoing a massive redevelopment following the purchase of property by entrepreneur Teddy Sagi. It would include benefits for both retail and residents. An article from Kentish Towner provides more information as to what these benefits would be, including a greater focus on entertainment, new homes, and public spaces. The project has been approved and is already underfoot.
While I may never be able to visit Camden Lock Village and I am most certainly frustrated about the possible circumstances regarding its closure, I find it hard to say that either change would cause Camden Market too much harm in the long run. The entire market’s different characters, charm, and outstanding reputation could never be completely lost.
– Imani Parker-Robinson (London Undergraduate Program, Spring 2015)
Images © Imani Parker-Robinson. All rights reserved.
To view this blog post and a gallery of Camden photos, visit Imani’s blog Adventure is Out There.