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The Camden markets are a number of adjoining large retail markets in Camden Town near the Hampstead Road Lock of the Regent's Canal (popularly referred to as Camden Lock), often collectively named "Camden Market" or "Camden Lock". Among products sold on the stalls are crafts, clothing, bric-a-brac, and fast food. It is the fourth-most popular visitor attraction in London, attracting approximately 100,000 people each weekend.
A small local foodstuffs market has operated in Inverness Street in Camden Town since the beginning of the 20th century. From 1974 a small weekly crafts market that operated every Sunday near Camden Lock developed into a large complex of markets. The markets, originally temporary stalls only, extended to a mixture of stalls and fixed premises. The traditional Inverness Street market started losing stalls once local supermarkets opened; by mid-2013 all the original stalls had gone, being replaced by stalls similar to those of the other markets, including fast food but not produce.
The markets originally operated on Sundays only, which continues to be the main trading day. Opening later extended to Saturdays for most of the market. A number of traders, mainly those in fixed premises, operate throughout the week, although the weekend remains the peak period.
The complex of Camden Market is composed of six general sections. Due to the popularity of the markets, visitor numbers increased so much that Camden Town tube station restricted Sunday afternoon access to incoming passengers only in order to prevent dangerous overcrowding of the narrow platforms. Chalk Farm and Mornington Crescent stations are a little further away and not subject to restrictions.
Camden Lock Market is situated by the Regent's Canal on a site formerly occupied by warehouses and other premises associated with the canal. By the early 1970s the canal trade had ceased and a northern urban motorway was planned that would cut through the site, making any major permanent redevelopment impossible, and in 1974 a temporary market was established. By 1976, when plans for the motorway were abandoned, the market had become a well known feature of Camden Town. Originally, the Lock was a market for crafts, occupying some outdoor areas by the canal and various existing buildings. It attracted large numbers of visitors partly due to stalls being open on Sundays, when previous to the Sunday Trading Act 1994, shops were not permitted to operate on Sundays. While the range of goods has since widened, with stalls selling books, new and second-hand clothing, and jewellery, the Lock retains its focus as the principle Camden market for crafts. There is a large selection of fast food stalls. In 1991 a three-storey indoor market hall designed by architect John Dickinson was opened on the site of the first outdoor market. In the style of the traditional 19th century industrial architecture and housing in the area, it is built of brick and cast iron.
From 2006 a large indoor market hall was constructed in a yard between the Camden Lock Market and the Stables Market that was previously used for open air stalls. In November 2007 a large part of the Stables Market was demolished as part of a long-term redevelopment plan for the area and rebuilt as a year-round permanent market area. The book, Camden Lock and the Market——tells the 40-year history of the original market, including interviews with many of the first stallholders and with craftspeople whose products were sold in the market.
|This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (October 2012)|
Owned by Bebo & O.D. Kobo, Richard Caring and Elliot Bernerd of Chelsfield Partners, the Stables Market is the largest section of the complex. The market is located in the historic former Pickfords stables and Grade II listed horse hospital which served the horses pulling Pickford's distribution vans and barges along the canal. Many of the stalls and shops are set in large arches in railway viaducts.
Chain stores are not permitted and trade is provided by a mixture of small enclosed and outdoor shops and stalls, of which some are permanent, and others hired by the day. In common with most of the other Camden markets the Stables Market has many clothes stalls. It is also the main focus for furniture in the markets. Household goods, decorative, ethnically-influenced items, and second-hand items or 20th-century antiques, many of them hand-crafted, are among the wares. There are also clothing and art pieces for alternative sub-cultures, such as goths and cybergoths. These shops include Black Rose, which caters for goths, with items such as coffin-shaped handbags, and Cyberdog, which houses much cyber-style "neon" PVC and rubber clothing.
In October 2006 a large indoor market hall was built in a yard between the Stables Market and Camden Lock Market that was previously used for temporary open-air stalls. In the summer of 2007 redevelopment of the back of the Stables Market began. This redevelopment consisted of two new four-storey buildings housing shops, food outlets, offices, workshops and storage facilities, as well as an exhibition space.
Redevelopment will include a new pedestrian route through the rear of the Stables Market exposing 25 of the existing railway arches. Pedestrian walkways—in the style of the existing historic ramp and bridge system—will open up the site and increase access for visitors. A glass roof and cycle parking spaces will be added.
In 2006 Stables Market trader Sasha Rodoy launched "Save Camden Stables Market Campaign" in a bid to stop developers destroying the original stables horse hospital buildings and tunnels which made up the market. Under the pseudonym "Suki Jacobs" she launched an HMGovernment epetition, organised press coverage, and published "Save Camden Stables Market" Forum. Public objections to the application from local residents, as well as deputations supporting and opposing it were presented to Camden Council. The protests caused a request for more clarity to be made by market traders who feared the rumours of chain stores, such as Top Shop, moving in to the market were damaging trade.
Councillor Dawn Somper, Chair of the Development Control Committee, Camden Council said: "We absolutely support the desire to preserve the independent and alternative attraction and feel of Stables Market—rather than it looking like a typical high street—and also its economic importance to the Camden Town area. On balance the committee felt that the design, size and heritage considerations of this application were a significant improvement on the previous consented planning permission."
The section along the canal to the east of Chalk Farm Road was known as the Canal Market and had a covered entrance tunnel leading into a general outdoor market. The market was devastated by fire on 9 February 2008 and reopened in May 2009 as the Camden Lock Village. The cover over the original street entrance was removed, and a new entrance created near the railway bridge.
The Buck Street Market is an outdoor market focusing on clothes. There is no formal or legal definition of Camden Market; the Buck Street Market's sign reads 'The Camden Market'. A few stallholders design their own wares, while at the weekend these designs are more likely to be found in the Electric Ballroom market.
The Electric Ballroom, close to Camden Town tube station, has been a night club since the 1950s. It is open during the day at weekends as an indoor market. Easy to miss the entrance in passing but well worth making the effort to find it and enter. The building itself is steeped in rock history, with a host of famous names having performed at this legendary venue. The market has been operating here for the last 24 years, which makes it one of the original indoor markets at Camden. Whilst it has its share of imported goods, the market strives to attract independent designers and dealers specialising in unique and unusual items. Among its stalls you can find some real, quirky treasures!
A small century-old street market that once had many stalls selling fresh produce and foodstuffs, unlike the other markets. By 2012 it retained only two vegetable and fruit stalls amongst stalls like the rest of the markets. In November 2012 a bus stop near the market was closed and the non-tourist trade diminished dramatically; by mid-2013 the produce stalls too had gone leaving Queen's Crescent market as the closest comparable market.
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On 9 February 2008, at around 7:20 p.m., a large fire broke out in the Camden Canal Market area on the north side of Chalk Farm Road. After crossing the railway line, the fire badly affected the rear of the Hawley Arms on Castlehaven Road. The fire was extinguished during the night by 100 firefighters There were no casualties, but railway services running above the market were disrupted. Camden Lock Market and the Stables Market were unaffected by the fire and remained open. The fire was caused by a banned liquid petroleum gas (LPG) heater which had been left turned on in a clothes stall and ignited materials in an adjacent stall.
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