Camden Town
Camden High Street, near where it becomes Chalk Farm Road (facing towards Chalk Farm)
Camden Town is located in Greater London
Camden Town
Camden Town
Location within Greater London
Population24,538 (Camden Town with Primrose Hill and Cantelowes wards, 2011)[1]
OS grid referenceTQ295845
• Charing Cross2.5[2] mi (4.0 km) SSE
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Region
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtNW1, NW5
Dialling code020 (London)
PoliceMetropolitan
FireLondon
AmbulanceLondon
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
UK
England
London
51°32′28″N 0°08′36″W / 51.541°N 0.1433°W / 51.541; -0.1433

Camden Town (/ˈkæmdən/ ), often shortened to Camden, is an area in the London Borough of Camden, around 2.5 miles (4.1 km) north-northwest of Charing Cross.[2] Historically in Middlesex, it is identified in the London Plan as one of 34 major centres in Greater London.

Laid out as a residential district from 1791 and originally part of the manor of Kentish Town and the parish of St Pancras, Camden Town became an important location during the early development of the railways, which reinforced its position on the London canal network. The area's industrial economic base has been replaced by service industries such as retail, tourism and entertainment. The area now hosts street markets and music venues that are strongly associated with alternative culture.[citation needed]

History

The ancient parishes, west to east, of Paddington and St Marylebone (in the modern City of Westminster), and St Pancras, including Camden Town (in the modern London Borough of Camden) in 1834

Toponymy

Camden Town is named after Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden. His earldom was styled after his estate, Camden Place near Chislehurst in Kent (now in the London Borough of Bromley), formerly owned by historian William Camden.[3] The name, which appears on the Ordnance Survey map of 1822,[4] was later applied to the early-20th-century Camden Town Group of artists and the London Borough of Camden, created in 1965.[5]

Urban development

The emergence of the industrial revolution in the 19th century meant Camden was the  North Western Railway's terminal stop in 1837. It was where goods were transported off the tracks and onto the roads of London by 250 000 workhorses.[6] The whole area was adapted to a transportation function: The Roundhouse (1846), Camden Lock and The Stables were examples of this.

Camden Town stands on land that was once the manor of Kentish Town.[5] Sir Charles Pratt, a radical 18th-century lawyer and politician, acquired the manor through marriage. In 1791, he started granting leases for houses to be built in the manor.[5] In 1816, the Regent's Canal was built through the area.[7] Up to at least the mid-20th century, Camden Town was considered an "unfashionable" locality.[8] The Camden Markets, which started in 1973 and have grown since then, attract many visitors. A 1993 bomb blast injured 18 people on Camden High Street. On 9 February 2008, Camden Canal market suffered a major fire, but there were no injuries.[9] It later reopened as Camden Lock Village,[10] until closed in 2015 for redevelopment.[11]

Governance

Camden Town was contained within the Metropolitan Borough of St Pancras between 1900 and 1965, when it became part of the new London Borough of Camden, of which it is the namesake and administrative centre.

Political constituencies

Camden Town is contained in the following political constituencies for different purposes, listed with some incumbents as of December 2022:

Geography

Camden Town is on relatively flat ground at 100 feet (30 m) above sea level, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) north-northwest of Charing Cross. To the north are the hills of Hampstead and Highgate; to the west is Primrose Hill. The culverted, subterranean River Fleet flows from its source on Hampstead Heath through Camden Town south to the River Thames.[13] The Regent's Canal runs through the north of Camden Town.

Economy

Stables market horse sculptures

At the end of the 20th century, entertainment-related businesses began moving into the area, and a Holiday Inn was built abutting the canal. A number of retail and food chain outlets replaced independent shops, driven out by high rents and redevelopment. Restaurants with a variety of culinary traditions thrived, many of them near the markets, on Camden High Street and its side streets, Parkway, Chalk Farm Road, and Bayham Street. The plan to redevelop the historic Stables Market led to a steel and glass extension, built on the edges of the site in 2006, and increased the market's capacity.

Camden street markets

Main article: Camden Market

Camden is well known for its markets. These date from 1974 or later, except for Inverness Street market, for over a century a small food market serving the local community,[14] though by 2013 all foodstuff and produce stalls had gone and only touristy stalls remained. Camden Lock Market proper started in a former timber yard in 1973, and is now surrounded by five more markets: Buck Street market, Stables market, Camden Lock Village, and an indoor market in the Electric Ballroom. The markets are a major tourist attraction at weekends, selling goods of all types, including fashion, lifestyle, books, food, junk/antiques and more bizarre items; they and the surrounding shops are popular with young people, in particular, those searching for "alternative" clothing. While originally open on Sundays only,[15] market activity later extended throughout the week, though concentrating on weekends.

Transport

The Regent's Canal waterbus service

London Underground

Camden Town tube station is near the markets and other attractions. Chalk Farm and Mornington Crescent tube stations are also within walking distance. Camden Town station is a key interchange station for the Bank and Charing Cross branches of the southbound Northern line, and the Edgware and High Barnet branches of the northbound Northern Line.[16]

When the station was designed in 1907 the line, and the station, had to pass exactly below the narrow streets to avoid having to pay landowners for access. The platforms of the station are consequently very narrow, and the station has one platform directly above another. There is an air raid shelter under the station used during the Second World War; many stations were used as air raid shelters, but few had dedicated shelters.[17]

After the area increased in popularity with the introduction of the markets the narrow platforms became dangerously overcrowded, particularly on Sunday afternoons. London Underground made many proposals to upgrade the station. In 2004 a proposal requiring the compulsory purchase and demolition of 'the Triangle'—land bordered by Kentish Town Road, Buck Street and Camden High Street—was rejected by Camden Council after opposition from local people; of 229 letters, only two supported the scheme. It was later planned to redevelop the station entirely between 2020 and 2024/5, with less demolition than proposed previously, but the redevelopment was postponed in December 2018 by TfL "until we have the funds we need";[18] no work had been announced as of September 2023.

Early in the 21st century the station closed to outbound passengers on Sunday afternoons due to the danger due to overcrowding of the narrow platforms during busy market hours.[17] Mornington Crescent, Chalk Farm, and Kentish Town stations, within walking distance, remained open. The restriction was extended temporarily due to escalator renovation,[19] and removed due to reduced traffic during the peak of the covid pandemic from 2020, but the Sunday afternoon closure continues, and outbound access is via a long spiral staircase instead of an escalator at other busy times when many market visitors arrive.

Rail

Camden Road is a London Overground station at the corner of Royal College Street and Camden Road, on the line from Richmond in the West to Stratford station in the East. The nearest National Rail station is Kentish Town station on the Thameslink route on the Midland Main Line. St Pancras International, Euston, and King's Cross terminals are within 20 minutes' walk of Camden Town.

Bus routes

The area is a major hub for London Buses.[20] The following routes serve Camden Town: 24 (24 hour), 27, 29, 31, 46, 88 (24 hour), 134 (24 hour), 168, 214 (24 hour), 253, 274 and Night Bus Routes N5, N20, N27, N28, N29, N31, N253 and N279.

Roads

The twin Camden Locks

Parts of the A503 (Camden Road) and A400 (Camden High Street and Camden Street) are designated as red routes on which vehicles may not stop for any reason, managed by Transport for London (TfL) rather than the borough.[21] Black taxis ply for hire in the area and there are minicab offices.[22]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, from about March 2020 roadworks were carried out to make many side roads more suitable for cycling and reduce vehicle traffic. This led to traffic jams described as "gridlock", and opposition.[23]

Cycling

Transport for London and Camden Council both provide and maintain cycling infrastructure in Camden Town. Segregated cycle tracks run alongside Royal College Street to the east of Camden Town, past Camden Road railway station.[24] Cycling provision changes from time to time—in particular, cycling provisions were added during the COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020. Current provision information (open and proposed cycle routes, Santander Cycles docking stations) is on the TfL Web site.[25] The CycleStreets mobile app finds suitable routes throughout the UK, including Camden Town.

The Regent's Canal towpath is a shared-use pedestrian and cycle path maintained by the Canal and River Trust. The towpath links Camden Town to Angel and King's Cross to the east, and Regent's Park and Maida Vale in the west.[24][26]

The London-wide Santander Cycles cycle hire scheme operates in Camden Town. There are several docking stations, some near rail and Tube stations.[27]

Cycle counters on Royal College Street to the north of Camden Road railway station recorded over 375,000 journeys between August 2017 and July 2018.[28][29]

Regent's Canal

A warm summer day at the Camden Lock

Main article: Regent's Canal

Regent's Canal runs through the north end of Camden Town. Canal boat trips along the canal from Camden Lock are popular, particularly in summer. Many of the handrails by the bridges show deep marks worn by the towropes by which horses pulled canal barges until the 1950s, and it is still possible to see ramps on the canal bank designed to assist horses that fell in the canal after being startled by the noise of a train. Camden Lock is a regularly used traditional manually operated double canal lock operating between widely separated levels. A large complex of weekend street markets operates around the Lock. The towpath is a pedestrian and cycle route which runs continuously from Little Venice through Camden Lock to the Islington Tunnel.[30] A regular waterbus service operates along the Regent's Canal from Camden Lock. Boats depart every hour during the summer, heading westward around Regent's Park, calling at London Zoo and on towards Maida Vale. Sightseeing narrow-boat trips run from Camden Lock to Little Venice.

Notable places

Ambedkar House
Street art close to the Camden Market
Punks close to the Electric Ballroom
Shops on Camden High Street (picture facing towards Chalk Farm)

Camden Highline

Main article: Camden Highline

A new park and walkway utilising the former railway alignment between Camden Town and Kings Cross was given planning permission in January 2023.[39][40]

Notable people

Bronze statue of Amy Winehouse in Camden Town, London unveiled in September 2014

Media

The former TV-am building, right

National

Main article: Breakfast Television Centre

To the north of Camden Town station and running along the canal is a modern pop art complex designed by Terry Farrell as the studios of the former TV-am, now used by MTV[7] but retaining TV-am's eggcup sculptures along the roof line. Associated Press Television News has its head office in a former gin warehouse near Camden Lock called "The Interchange".[54]

Local

The Camden New Journal is a free, independent weekly newspaper that covers the London Borough of Camden.

Camden tv, Web site with short films about Camden.[55]

In popular culture

In literature

In film and television

In music

In games

References

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Bibliography