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Camden Lock: 10 Interesting Facts and Figures about Camden Market You Might Not Know

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One of the most famous shopping areas in London, what’s often known as Camden Market, Camden Lock, or even Camden Lock Market is situated in the London Borough of Camden. Camden Market is not just one central location, but a series of markets in the borough. These include: Camden Lock, the Stables, Canal Market, Buck Street Market, Inverness Street Market, and the Electric Ballroom. If you’ve ever been to Camden Market or thought about going, have a look at some of the facts we have collected about this shopping mega centre.

Not One, But Three

Camden Lock isn’t a single lock, but is actually three of them. Hampstead Lock no. 1 constitutes twin locks, but count as a single lock. Hawley Lock and Kentish Town Lock make up the other two. The term Camden lock refers to all three of them.

Gold Medal Food

The first food stall in Camden Market was opened by June Foulds, an Olympic sprinter who competed in the 100 metres relay in the 1952 and 1956 games, winning bronze and silver, respectively. Called simply “The Stall”, it opened in 1974.

You Spin Me Right Round

Long before DJs were spinning discs in the Roundhouse, a different kind of spinning was going on. The performing arts venue was originally built in 1847 as a literal roundhouse for steam engine locomotives. As they had no way to turn around on their own, the Roundhouse’s turntable would spin the trains around. It was converted into a concert hall in the 1960s.

The Numbers

Camden Market has been ranked as London’s fourth-largest attraction with approximately 100,000 people visiting the stalls and shops each weekend. The market has approximately 280 stalls and 54 shops. The Camden area generates £1.2 billion from visitor spending and has 24,400 businesses, which is the second largest in London after Westminster. These businesses are responsible for about 275,000 jobs, providing almost two jobs for every resident in the borough.

The Stables

Appropriately enough, the market known as the Stables Market used to be the Picksford horse stables as well as the horse hospital that served the animals that pulled the Picksford vans. It is the largest section of the markets and one where chain stores are not allowed.

We Don’t Need no Water

Parts of Camden Market have caught on fire twice in recent years. The first time was in 2008 on 9 February in the Canal Market. It took about 100 firefighters to put it out, but fortunately there were no casualties. The fire was started by a banned liquid petroleum gas heater left on in a stall. The second fire occurred on 19 May of last year. Luckily, once again there were no casualties and it only took 70 firefighters to put out.

But by Night…

Electric Ballroom may be another market by day filled with shops, but by night it is a nightclub and has been so since the 1950s. There are two dance floors and four bars inside. It has played host to plenty of rock n’ roll royalty including: The Clash, Madness, Sid Vicious, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul McCartney, and more.

Everything Must Go

Radio DJ and TV personality Chris Evans once made the claim that if his show, The Terry and Gabby Show, failed to get good ratings in 2004, he would set up a stall in Camden Market and sell his possessions. When it was cancelled during its first season, the final episode of the show featured Evans staying true to his word with a stall in the Stables Market.

Withnail

Withnail and I is an iconic film that takes place in Camden Town and features the Market as one of its locations. Filmmaker Bruce Robinson once lived in Camden and based the film on his experiences living in the borough. During leaner times, he would swipe fruits and vegetables left behind when the market shut up for him to eat.

Writing on the Wall

Several historic writers also lived in the area, including George Orwell, Mary Shelley, and Charles Dickens.

John Rabon
Author: John Rabon

John is a regular writer for Anglotopia and its sister websites. He is currently engaged in finding a way to move books slightly to the left without the embarrassment of being walked in on by Eddie Izzard. For any comments, questions, or complaints, please contact the Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's haircut.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for such a very informative piece. I have been out by Kentish Town but have yet to make it to Camden Lock. I did not know it was three locks or that it was so huge! It’s on my list .

  2. Lovely informative article. I grew up in Camden and have happy memories of the Roundhouse and Market way before it became so famous and I still love the place although I no longer live in London.

  3. Hi Bernadette. I don’t know your age (that would be irude of meto ask) but do you remember the Black Cat cigarette factory. I went to school in Medburn Street. My first job was working in the Wallpaper shop just along from the lock. where we used to go “fishing” for tadpoles with a piece of brown hessian bag stretched over an old bike wheel.. Ah! happy carefree earlier days

  4. My daughter and I love Camden Market! Every time we visit London, it is the #1 destination for us. The shops, the food stalls, the amazing Pepi’s hair salon, the history, the Clash’s Rehearsal Rehearsals which is now the fantastic Cyberdog–you must go!

  5. June’s food stall was amazing. I remember her well. Her wraps were the best I’ve ever tasted. Went back to Hampstead in the 70s for 5 yrs and to Camden Mkt every weekend. My brother had a stall there – sold bottles (he dug up) and collectibles. Very fond memories. Lovely trips up the canal to Little Venice from the mkt.

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