Camden Market, London

Sep 19th, 2003, 09:27 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Camden Market, London

In response to Tia's thread, here's my input on Camden Market. And I just found a website with lots of information and maps, which I've linked to below. Very useful!

Whether it's your "thing" or not, only you can decide, but certainly all the visitors I've taken there have enjoyed it.


Follow this link to see a map of the entire area:

As you exit the Camden Town station onto Camden High Street you'll see that the road is lined with shops aimed mostly at younger shoppers and particularly strongly at the gothic market. There are also some regular stores, including one on the opposite side that's currently selling lots of Converse All Stars - weird for me to see these shoes suddenly back in fashion as they were hugely popular when I was about 17!

Do take a moment to look up at the first floor (2nd floor in US speak) of the high street stores. Several have enormous models (representing what the shops sell) attached to the exterior walls. I'm quite fond of the giant boots, rocking chair, army jacket, headphones...

On Sundays stalls will be open in the Electric Ballroom that you'll pass on your left leaving the tube station and walking in the direction of Camden Lock. I'd ignore this as well as Buck Street Market with it's huge green sign proclaiming it as Camden Market. I've met more than one person who assumed that this area was the sum total of the markets on offer and went home disappointed.

Inverness Street market, on the other side of the high street, sells mainly fruit, veg. and tourist tat such as souvenirs with the union jack and miniature porcelain cottages.

As you approach the lock you can pause on the bridge if you'd like, to take in the view and to watch any canal boats that happen to be making their way through the lock itself. If you've not seen a canal lock being operated before you might find it quite interesting.

Having crossed the little bridge over the canal you'll notice a passage on the right leading downhill into what is known as the Canal Market. This too is mostly aimed at students and goths after cheap clothes and jewellery and interesting smoking equipment. Right down at the bottom and round to the left there are some interesting stalls selling second hand clothes and bric a brac and also records. The goods here are what you might find in a charity shop rather than a classy auction house but there are certainly occasional gems. However, on a first visit, I'd certainly skip it.

The first area I'd recommend actually visiting is the Camden Lock Market - you can't miss the large building on your left just after your cross over the canal. That's the Camden Lock Market Hall - it's surrounded by a jumble of other buildings, some of which connect into it inside.

The stalls in here mainly sell modern art & craft goods with some clothes and other bits and pieces too. One of my favourite shops here is Lock One which sells modern and traditional batiks. They are happy to sell the pieces unframed if that's more convenient for you and can provide the basic timber for making a frame too, if required. I bought a huge modern piece by an artist called Arifin (similar to this but square) as a reward to myself last November when I won a big contract.

If you enter by turning left up a little hill directly after crossing over the bridge you'll find yourself in the East Yard (shown on the market first floor map listed on the web page above). The stalls here are mainly aimed at a younger audience but are pleasant to browse through - there's a stall selling hand made soaps, one selling pretty velour scarves at low prices, another selling carved wooden items from Africa. You can enter the first floor of the Market Hall from here, and it takes you in right by Lock One.

As you can see from this map there are a maze of connected buildings and open areas.

The West Yard offers more of the same as the East Yard but also houses one of the numerous open food stall areas.

After the Market Hall (for arts and crafts) spend as much or as little time as you fancy browsing these areas.

Then come back out onto the high street, which turns into Chalk Farm Road as it passes beneath the railway bridge, and continue away from Camden Town tube station.

You'll soon find a break in the wall that allows you to enter the Stables Market area, a vast area.

Some of this area (towards Camden Lock Place) consists of youth-oriented clothes stores and the loud beating music spills out of each door. I ignore these areas and continue northwards.

Near the second gate into the Stables you'll find another open stall food area with shared bench seating and some roofing cover provided.

Northwards, en route to the Antiques Passage, you'll find stalls that sell a range of modern goods (such as one stall selling modern chinese crockery and another selling indian and indonesian furniture) as well as a number selling second hand items such as clothes.

The Arches (furthest from Chalk Farm Road) contain the main concentration of second hand clothes etc. Cheap stuff, ignore most of it.

The Antiques Passage leads to the old Horse Hospital building. On the ground floor are numerous huge warehouse size shops selling old and new furniture. There's even one selling nothing but reconditioned 70s furniture. Upstairs in the Horse Hospital is a small area of stalls - these are a real mix of flea market, second hand and antique. When I was there with American friends recently they were able to pick up a beautiful old Quimper (?I think?) plate which would normally cost a great deal more at other markets. They visit London regularly, shopping often at Portobello and in Camden Passage (Islington) and found prices in this market much lower, perhaps this is because this area of the market is reasonably small and just doesn?t attract the volume of richer tourists that Islington and Portobello do. Certainly many Camden visitors never make it as far as the Horse Hospital building.

In terms of eating, you have those food stalls to choose from or a number of restaurants on the main street including inexpensive Thai, Italian and French.

If you enjoy browsing and pottering, I'd certainly allocate a few hours to Camden. By all means visit Portobello and Camden Passage (and some of the more "in vogue" recommendations from M Kingdom.

We all have such different tastes, only you can decide whether Camden Market is your cup of tea.

Kindest Regards
Kavey is offline  
Sep 19th, 2003, 09:29 AM
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Grrr, Electric Ballroom is on your right as you leave Camden Town station and walk towards the lock...

Shrug, avoid it, anyway.
Kavey is offline  
Sep 19th, 2003, 10:06 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 807
Absolutely, it is up to an individual to decide what they like, and the only way to do this is to find out for one's self. On this forum we can merely speak from our own personal opinion.
m_kingdom is offline  
Sep 19th, 2003, 10:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 174

Thanks so much for the info. I will check all the links you provided! I have printed your post and will put it in my guide book for when we arrive. I'm so excited now! One week from tomorrow we leave!!!! I may have more questions for you!

Tia is offline  
Sep 19th, 2003, 07:00 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 13

How are the markets in December? My wife and I will be in London from 12/25 to 12/31. We wouldn't mind spending a few hours here if enough stalls are open during that week.
xstant is offline  
Sep 20th, 2003, 03:33 PM
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Generally the market is open all year around though only on Saturday and Sunday will you find all the stalls (as well as shops) open. Weekdays will see shops and only some stalls open.

I can't comment week by week as I just can't recall the dates of my visits.

That said, I don't tend to go when weather is particularly bad because it's quite an outdoor experience, so I'm not sure I've ever visited in December.

Sorry I can't be more helpful.
Kavey is offline  

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