Camden Town

Camden Town

infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
region= London
official_name= Camden Town
constituency_westminster= Holborn and St. Pancras
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area= NW
postcode_district= NW1
london_borough= Camden
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ295845
latitude= 51.5444
longitude= -0.1315


Camden Town is the district of London, England around Camden High Street, in the London Borough of Camden. It is also referred to as Camden. Camden Town is an inner-city district located on the northern side of the City of London. It is famous for its crowded markets and its associations with popular culture, from the 1960s when the Roundhouse was a centre of alternative culture, and later associations with punk and Goth subcultures. The 'town' in the name is 18th century usage indicating a new development area: Camden is not separated in any way from the adjoining areas.


The Regent's Canal runs through the north end of Camden Town; its 8.5 mile towpath, which passes through London Zoo, is a pleasant and popular walk in summer [] . Boat trips along the canal, from Camden Lock, are also interesting. Many of the handrails by the bridges show deep marks worn by the towropes by which horses pulled canal barges until the 1950s, and there are still ramps up the canal bank near rail bridges to assist horses which have been startled by the noise of a train and fallen in. One of the many canal bridges, Macclesfield bridge, is known as "Blow-up bridge": it was the site of London's largest pre-war explosion, where a barge laden with gunpowder blew up in 1874.

Camden Lock is a traditional manually-operated double canal lock operating between widely separated levels. A large complex of weekend street markets has mushroomed there since the 1970s.

Not far away is Regent's Park, a large and pleasant park which was formerly Henry VIII's hunting chase. There are spectacular rose gardens in bloom in the spring, a boating lake, always-hungry ducks and geese, and several children's playgrounds. Conkers are plentiful in autumn. London Zoo is at the north of the park.

The Roundhouse is a railway building constructed in 1847 for the London and Birmingham Railway. It had various uses and eventually became derelict and was converted to a music venue in the 1960s. Since its re-opening in 2006 it has once again become one of London's leading cultural venues, as a theatre and music venue.

To the east of Camden Town station and running along the canal is a modern complex designed by Terry Farrell as the original studios of TV-am. The studios are now used by MTV but retain the egg cup sculptures along the roof line of original owners.

There are a great many shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. The area south of the tube station is typical of a London High Street; towards the north we find the markets and attractions typical of the area. There are a number of English language schools in the area.

Camden Square is a short walk away from Camden Town station and has a playground and dog walking area.

Camden street markets

Camden is well-known for its markets: these are of relatively recent date, except for Inverness Street market, a small food market serving the local community, though now with only 3 fruit and vegetable stalls among more touristy stalls. Camden Lock market proper started in a former timber-yard in 1973, and is now surrounded by satellites: Buck Street market, Stables market, Camden Canal market, and an indoor market in the Electric Ballroom.

The markets are a major tourist attraction at weekends, selling inexpensive goods of all types including fashion, lifestyle, books, food, junk/antiques and bizarre goods; they and the surrounding shops are popular with young people, in particular those searching for "alternative" clothing.

In recent years entertainment-related businesses and a Holiday Inn have moved into the area. A number of retail and food chain outlets have replaced independent shops driven out by high rents and redevelopment. Restaurants have thrived, with the variety of culinary traditions found in London. Many restaurants are a little away from the markets, on Camden High Street and its side streets, Parkway, Chalk Farm Road, and Bayham Street.

Camden Lock market has its own web site [] with maps, detailed transport information, and details of some shops and stalls.

The conflicting pressures of developing London have given rise to a controversial plan to re-develop the heart of the historic Stables Market. A steel and glass extension was built on the edges of this site in summer 2006. This increases the market's capacity but increases the pressure on Camden Town's streets and transport, already pushed to their limits over the weekend as thousands of tourists come to the area. Camden Council passed the plans for the additional development in October 2006 against much opposition from residents strongly opposed to the modern redevelopment of their town into a homogenised high street area typical of much of London.

Notable places

* The World's End has been a pub since 1778. Formerly known as "The Mother Red Cap" and later "The Red Cap", it is on Camden Road near Camden Town tube station and was featured in 1986 film Withnail and I.
* The Underworld is a live music venue with a capacity of 500, located under The World's End.
*KOKO, formerly 'The Camden Palace', is a major dance and rock venue on Camden High Street near Mornington Crescent tube station. The building hosted the famous Goon Show, and in 2006 hosted Channel 4's Album Chart Show.
*Electric Ballroom, hosts weekly club nights and acts as a live music venue including recent performances from AFI and Sick of it All

Places of interest

*Camden Lock
*Camden Lock Market and other street markets
*Jewish Museum
*London Zoo
*Regent's Canal and its towpath
*Regent's Park
*The Roundhouse
*St Pancras Old Church
*St Michael's Church, Camden Town
*Camden catacombs "(see also Catacombs of London)"
* The unusual Sainsbury's supermarket in Camden Road was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and built on the site of the former large ABC Bakery.


Many bus routes serve the Camden Town area. Camden Town Underground station is close to the markets and other attractions; other stations are listed below. Black taxis ply for hire in the area, and there are minicab offices. Illegal unlicensed "taxis" tout for business on the street, particularly late at night when the Tube and most buses do not run [] ; they often demand excessive fares and are not insured for hire services. In 2005 there were an average of ten sexual attacks and rapes on women by illegal minicab drivers throughout London each month [] .

Camden Town Underground station was not designed for the volume of traffic it handles since the area became popular. It is very crowded all weekend, and, as of 2008, is closed to outbound passengers on Sunday afternoons, the peak time, for safety.

London Underground has 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 Chalk Farm Road — was rejected by Camden Council after opposition from local people; of 229 letters, only 2 supported the scheme.

Nearby places

* Chalk Farm
* Kentish Town
* Belsize Park
* Holloway
* Tufnell Park
* Primrose Hill
* Regents Park

Nearest tube stations

* Camden Town
* Caledonian Road
* Chalk Farm
* Kentish Town railway and tube station
* Mornington Crescent

Nearest railway stations

* Camden Road
* Caledonian Road & Barnsbury
* Kentish Town railway and tube station
* Kentish Town West

In literature

In Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", Bob Cratchit and his family live in Camden Town.

Dickens' "Dombey and Son" includes a description of the building of the London and Birmingham Railway through Camden Town.

In John le Carré's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", a mole at the heart of MI6 is exposed in the climax of the plot at a meeting in a safe house at Five, Lock Gardens, Camden Town (a fictitious street).

Cayce Pollard, the protagonist of William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition", is based in Camden when in London.

Nick Hornby's High Fidelity is set in Camden, including a fictitious record shop called 'Championship Vinyl'.

Camden features several times in Hanif Kureishi's The Black Album (novel).

Camden town also features in Elizabeth Hand's novel "Mortal love" and in her short story 'Cleopatra Brimstone' which can be found in the collection "Saffron and Brimstone".

In South by South East, Nick and Tim Diamond move to Camden Town

In music

* The Housemartins song "Five Get Over Excited" has the line, "I am guy from Camden Town, My hair is curly but I get it down, My clothes are black but my hair is brown, I'm really into early motown."
* The 1996 Lush single "Ladykiller" contains the lyric "I'm hanging out in Camden / Drinking with my girlfriends on a Saturday night".
* "Come Back To Camden" from Morrissey's 2004 album "You Are the Quarry".
*"Camden Town", from Uffington Horse's debut album "Enchantment".
* The Ryan Adams song "English Girls Approximately" from the album "Love is Hell" features the lyric "Falling down in Camden like a couple drunken criminals."
*"Camden Town", from the album "The Lone Ranger" by Suggs, Madness's vocalist. There is a signed poster of the song in Madness' spiritual home, [ The Dublin Castle] pub.
*Madness make many references to Camden Town in their music. Arlington House (a hostel for the homeless) in Arlington Road, near Parkway, inspired vocalist Suggs to write "One Better Day" about the sadness of living in London. The joke and fancy dress shop "Escapade" on Camden High Street features in the video to "House of Fun".
*The record company 2 Tone Records was located on Camden High Street.
*The Pulp song "Sorted for E's & Wizz".
*Puertorican singer and songwriter Robi Dräco Rosa refers to Camden Town in his song "La Flor Del Frio" from album "Vagabundo".
*Camden is mentioned in the song "Ain't No Lie", by famous Camden resident guitar player Graham Coxon. Coxon also refers to Britannia Junction, near Camden Town tube station, in his song 'What's he got'.
*Punk band The Clash recorded the demos for their seminal album "London Calling" at an address in Camden Town. Also, their song The Prisoner makes reference to Camden Town.
*Camden Town is mentioned in the song "Johnny Come Lately" by Steve Earle and The Pogues.
*Ben Mitchell (singer/songwriter) lived and performed in Camden while writing and recording [ The Stars Can See.] It was in Camden where Mitchell also started and hosted [ Acoustic Trip] (at The Lock Tavern)
*Coldplay made their debut appearances in Camden at the Dublin Castle pub whilst Chris Martin was studying at University College London, which is in the Borough of Camden.
*Subterraneans are identified with Camden Town, living and recording in the area, rehearsing at Scar Studios, and running their record company "The Electric Label" from offices in Chalk Farm Road and Camden High Street. All of the band's record launches since 1992 have taken place at the Dublin Castle pub.
* Camden Town is mentioned in the song A Girl in Port by Okkervil River.
*Bon Scott, former lead vocalist of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 33 after a night's heavy drinking in Camden Town.
*Hip-Hop and Rap artist Akala, was born and grew up in Camden Town, and did most of his early work there. He won a MOBO award for Best Hip-Hop artist in September 2006, beating, amongst others, Sway, another London born Rapper, and Plan B.
*DJ [ The Camden Slags] formed in Camden during its Britpop era in 1994-7.
* Two songs on The New York Fund's debut EP, Guns, reference Camden, namely "The Guns Of Camden Town" and "Parkway Nights".
*Belle & Sebastian refer to many of the sights of Camden Town in their song Mornington Crescent.
*Plan B's "Suzanne", from his mixtape Paint It Blacker tells the story of the Camden Ripper.
*"Camden Town" is the name of the track produced by the famous Italian Disk Jockey Emanuele Inglese in 2006
*Up-and-coming Camden rapper Charlie Sloth recorded the song 'Guided Tour Of Camden' which has references to many notable places and attractions in Camden, although not all are of pleseant interest.
* Singer song writer, Frank Turner often refers to the Camden area. In the song Ladies of London Town there is reference to "trawling Camden at 4:00 a.m.".
* Hip-Hop/ RnB & Grime artists N-Dubz were born and grew up in Camden Town. They consist of Dino 'Dappy' Contostavlos, Richard 'Fazer' Rawson & Tula 'Tulisa' Contostavlos. The crew won a MOBO award in September 2007 for Best UK Newcomer.
* Amy Winehouse dedicated her Grammy Award for Record of the Year to London, adding "Camden Town ain't burnin' down!" Though apparently paradoxical, the statement is true as the fire had been extinguished by that time. [Cite news|title=Camden - Britain's musical Mecca?|url=|format=HTML||publisher=BBC]
* Marco Pirroni, ex Adam Ant guitarist, was born there.

In film

* The cult film "Withnail and I" starts and ends in Camden Town.
* "This Year's Love" is filmed almost entirely in and around Camden, showing many local landmarks, shops, restaurants and bars.
* The famous Christmas film, A Christmas Carol ends with Scrooge Sending a young boy to buy a turkey from Camden.
* "The Rules of Attraction" (2002) features images of a busy Camden High Street during a fast-paced montage of a character's promiscuous tour of Europe. He cites "girls with pink hair" as a notable feature of area. The film is set in Camden College, a fictional Ivy League institution in the eastern United States.
* The film "Bride & Prejudice" shows scenes of Camden town by the canal, showing typical Barges and tourists.

In television

* The ship from the BBC sci-fi sitcom "Hyperdrive" is called the "HMS Camden Lock". The town has been featured in the Channel Four sitcom "Spaced".
* Television actress Tamsin Greig grew up in Camden as a child.
*The Apprentice winner Sean Yazbeck grew up in Camden Town.
*Camden town was featured on an episode of the Sky one show, "", as well as the Channel 4 show, "Big Brother's Big Mouth".
* The personality of the stereotypical Camden town resident is parodied in a sketch from "The League of Gentlemen", available on YouTube [ here.]
*"The Mighty Boosh" character Vince Noir constantly references Camden. "The Mighty Boosh" actors, Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding also appear in the short film "Sweet", which is set in and around Camden, and filmed on location.


Camden Canal Market and the Hawley Arms pub in Camden Town suffered a major fire on February 9, 2008. Nobody was injured. [Cite news|title=Blaze ravages London market area|url=|format=HTML||publisher=BBC]


See also

* Portobello Road Market

External links

Local Directories/Guides

* [ Camden Town Online]
* [ Camden Guide "guide to everything that happens in Camden"]
* [ Camden Markets web site]
* [ The Camden New Journal Newspaper]
* [ Soundmap Audio Walking Tour of Camden Town]


* [ Camden Town Methodist Church]


* [ Camden Council web site]
* [ Camden Primary Care Trust: health services]
* [ Police crime statistics; see "Camden Town with Primrose Hill" ward.]
* [ Alternative Camden "energising civil society v pseudo-democracy"]


* [ Map showing Camden Town markets]
* [,183750&st=4&ar=N&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf Map of Camden Town and surrounding areas]


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