Camden Town

After a couple of quiet days, I decided that I needed to explore London some more.  I was surfing the internet looking for something to do today and discovered Camden Market, which I hadn’t heard of.  It is in Camden Town area of London, east of Regent Park.

The weather was cool today…actually, cold…around 37 F (3 C).  I bundled up, figured out the route to walk there and took off.  My walk took me past Victoria station, Buckingham Palace, through Green Park and down part of Piccadilly St.  Then, I headed north on Regent Street and made my way to Great Portland Rd.  A quick walk down Euston Road brought me to Hampstead Rd which eventually turned into Camden High Street.  It was about a 5 mile walk, just about the right length!

I passed this great building, the Grange Langham Court Hotel on Langham Street, between Great Portland St and Great Titchfield St.  The facade is all done in tile.  Isn’t it amazing?

Along Hampstead Street, right before I got to Camden High Street, I passed the Greater London House.  This building, built from 1926-28,  was originally the Carreras Cigarette Factory and is an example of 20th Century Egyptian Revival architecture.  In 1961, the building was converted into offices. The Egyptian details and the cat statues that dominate the entrance were removed.  In 1990, renovation brought the building back to its original form.  It makes for a very impressive building.  Today, it continues to house various businesses.

Hampstead St and the first part of Camden High Street appear to be a very rundown area.  I got the impression that it was more of a diverse working class neighborhood.  The High Street had several stores but the facades looked really tired and like they could use a coat of paint.  I was beginning to have my doubts about exploring this area. Not because I didn’t feel safe but I didn’t think I would find anything of interest.

As I continued along High Street, I encountered a variety of people and languages from all walks of life.  It was very interesting! I finally found the attraction to the area!! The Camden Market, Camden Canal and Locks, the Camden Lock Village and Horse Stall Market.  As you can see, this area – beyond the Camden Town tube station – was really busy!

What a fun place it turned out to be!  I only wish it had been warmer!!

Camden Town was founded in 1791 by the 1st Earl Camden, Charles Pratt.  The town became important in the early development of the railway system and in 1816, it became part of the English canal system when the Regent’s Canal was built.

It was considered an undesirable place to live up until the late 1800s.  In 1973, the markets were introduced.  They are open everyday of the year, except for Christmas and attracts visitors from all over the world!

Before exploring the market, I watched a couple of barges go through the locks.  Notice the man on the landing between the two locks opening the gate by manpower!  I don’t want to take the time right now to research the canal system in England but if I remember correctly, a guide on a tour I took said that you can travel, by canal, over 99% of London.

There is a great canal system in this country.  The canals were used to transport goods before the railroads were used.  After the introduction of the railroads, the canals went into decline.  However, years later, people began to use the canals for pleasure by navigating narrowboats along them.  This has encouraged the clean-up of the canals.

When I first arrived in London, BBC had a show about canal walks.  The host would pick a canal to walk along and would give the history.  It was very interesting.  A couple of the canals have water viaducts going over rivers that are just wide enough for a narrow barge to go through.  It is an amazing engineering feat!  I would love to see it.  In another show, the host walked along the canal outside of Bath. Close to the end of the walk,  is the Caen Hill that a canal passes through.  29 locks have been built to cover the 2 miles up the hill.  It was a very impressive sight on television. I can only imagine what it would be like to see it in person!  From what I saw on the show, it appears that the canal system is thriving.  People either enjoy the canal system traveling on the narrowboats, biking or hiking the path that follows it and some live in the narrowboats fulltime!  Ever since visiting Vancouver and seeing the houseboats there, living on one has been on my bucket list!

Near the locks, is a market area.  The Camden Lock Village and below that is the Horse Stall Market.  Both markets are full of booths of clothing….dresses, coats, hats, pocketbooks. Other booths offer jewelry, candles, books and a few antiques.  Then, there was the food…from around the world. If you couldn’t find something to eat there, then you are a fussy eater!

I really enjoyed the bigger than life bronze statues that were throughout the Horse Stall Market.  There were statues of horses, horse drawn wagons, a blacksmith and along the walls were bronze relief sculptures.

This picture show the blacksmith to the left of the picture, one of the horse drawn wagon and below them, one of the bronze relief sculptures.

In wrapping this up, I wanted to show you one more picture of a great idea for recycling old motor scooters!  Seats at the food court!!

It was a fun day and I hope to return to Camden Town when the weather is a little warmer!

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