Camden’s famous market, lock and nightlife. Our guide to the bohemian place to be and be seen
Camden, more than a market
A myth held by the rest of London, is that Camden’s only attraction is the large weekend market and that otherwise it only attracts single-parent teenagers, students and the homeless. In reality, the rich, the poor, the could be either and would be neither, are all co-existing in an area that stretches from the white mansions of Regent’s Park to the big estates on the way to Euston.
Furthermore, the market is the least enticement for locals, now that 100,000 bargain hunters descend upon it each weekend. However for tourists and those that enjoy crowds there are some real fashion bargains to be had, particularly with shoes, leather goods and generally bohemian gear.
It is true that nestled round the back of the High Street is London’s largest doss-house which serves up soup, clothes and beds for the homeless daily and yes Camden needs two unemployment offices to manage the copius claims. But it also has Jongleurs Comedy Store – which is as professional, slick and expensive as the West End sister, the famous Jazz Cafe on Parkway, the cozy French Cafe down Delancey Street that has a stream of rich and famous dropped off and picked up at its entrance, and Compendium, renowned as the best alternative bookshop in London.
Clubs, Pubs & Students
It is also true that Camden is infested by students. Clubs – The Electric Ballroom, WKD’s, The Underground, Camden Palace, The Laurel Tree and HQs are all known for hosting happenning nights – and have cashed in on the student contingent.
Pubs such as The World’s End (next to the tube; regular meeting place), Liberty’s ( Irish pub on High Street) and The Good Mixer (formerly Blur’s hangout; behind the market) complete the nefarious entertainment on offer.
And with a couple of well stocked bookshops, cheap market clothes, shoes and records, tucked away cafes and cheap eats, the park, the canal and regular night bus services, it is no surprise that the students have moved in.
A canal runs straight through the middle of the area, puntuated by Camden Lock right under the Market. There are pubs and eateries surrounding the lock, but beware as the Lock tends to act as the focal point for Camden’s drug dealing, especially at night.
A healthy 30-minute walk and you wind up at Notting Hill, having passed the back of London zoo. In the opposite direction, you walk past the futuristic canal flats designed by Nicholas Grimshaw which look like aluminium space craters. Grimshaw also designed the Sainsbury car park along from the falts, a similar space aged styled expanse of metal, bolts and girders.
– Peter Clee
Camden in Brief
Where is it?
– North of the West End. Camden Town tube station. Camden Road, British Rail. Lots of buses.
What is it?
– New York has Greenwich Village, Paris has a Left Bank, Berlin has Kreuzberg.
The bohemian place to be and be seen.