I have never been to Camden Market before but was surprised by how little I knew about it. Camden Market is one of the world’s most famous and popular markets and “allegedly” is the fourth most popular tourist attraction in London. I state “allegedly” as it is challenging to determine where this statistic comes from and how many visitors are genuine tourists. However, different sources say that 100,000 visitors attend the market each weekend, and an impressive 28 million attend annually. I suspect how many of these visitors are repeat attendees is also up for debate. Despite the uncertainty on the numbers, the free markets certainly pull in the crowds. Fresh from Disneyland Paris, we spent the day exploring the markets.
Another thing I didn’t know about Campden Market was that it didn’t open until 1974. I had incorrectly assumed it would have been from at least the Victorian era, if not earlier. Saturday 30 March 1974 is the widely accepted date for the birth of the market when just 16 stalls opened in Camden Town outside Dingwalls Dance Hall. The 1974 launch isn’t entirely accurate as a small market did exist at Inverness Street since the 19th century. However, in the 19th century, Camden was more famous for its numerous Gin Distilleries. Gin production has long stopped being the main driver of the Camden economy but has been making a comeback in recent times.
The actual name of the market is also a little unclear. The market is a collection of six adjacent markets collectively called either Camden Market or Camden Lock. The six markets that make up the Camden Markets are:-
- Camden Lock Market
- Stables Market
- Camden Lock Village
- Buck Street Market(which has rceently reopened as a container market)
- Electric Ballroom Market(now closed)
- Inverness Street Market
The geography of the markets all appear to be a bit vague to the casual visitor, but the modern markets consist of over 1000 shops, stalls, bars, and cafes. The range of goods and food on sale is electric. You can likely find anything you want within the markets and a great deal you never realized you wanted. However, with markets as big as Camden, the first challenge will be finding it.
We spent several hours wandering the markets taking in the sights and sounds. I don’t think I have ever been to anywhere quite like Camden Market, and it is certainly somewhere I would like to visit again. However, would I want to visit for my weekly shop? NO!
Perhaps the bit of Camden Markets we were most impressed with was the Streetfood Stores. Every food imaginable is on sale. British, Asian, European, American, African, plus numerous fusion combinations are all here. I doubt anyone would struggle to find something to enjoy eating at Camden Markets. The only surprising aspect was the majority of food stores closed at 7 pm. We had planned to return for our evening meal and were surprised to find most of the market deserted.
Finally, look what we saw on our way out! A traditional town crier. However, this isn’t any town crier if I have done my research correctly. This is Adam Myatt, who has 2 Guinness World Records, including one for being the world’s largest crier.