Visit London Blog » camden lock Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Five Facts about Camden Lock Tue, 18 Jun 2013 11:00:28 +0000

Caitlin Davies, author of Camden Lock and the Market (published by Frances Lincoln), tells us five facts about Camden Lock.

“Camden Lock is one of the busiest tourist destinations in London, famed for its shopping and entertainment. Yet 40 years ago the place was just a rundown timber wharf on the banks of the Regent’s Canal.

“I worked here as a teenager in the late 1970s, when there were just a few rows of stalls set on a dirty cobbled yard.  Now it’s part of the UK’s largest street market.

“How did it get so big? What happened to the original craftspeople and stallholders? As a novelist and non-fiction writer, I thought it would be a good idea for a book.

“So I found as many traders as possible who’ve worked here over the years. What I discovered was a story of dereliction and rejuvenation, of fortunes made, careers forged, and lives changed forever.

“Here are five things I never knew about Camden Lock….

1. There is no Camden Lock!

It’s the most famous canal lock in the world that doesn’t exist! Instead there are three dual locks in the area, built in the early 1800s as part of the Regent’s Canal. The nearest to the original market is Hampstead Road Locks, where you can watch the owners of colourful narrowboats operate the lock by hand – adjusting the water level to allow vessels to pass through..

2. Camden Lock is 40 this year

It began as a collection of craft workshops housed in Victorian horse stables, officially opened to the public in April 1973. Now Camden Lock is one of London’s most popular free attractions drawing five million visitors a year. There are 280 stalls, 54 retail shops (including Oddballs, England’s oldest juggling shop), 20 offices/studios, and four eateries/restaurants.

Camden Lock Fridays, which run through the summer, feature 30 stalls in the Middle Yard showcasing hand-made arts and crafts, while a summer Night Market runs until 10pm with global street food, cocktail bars and a pop up cinema.

3. Dingwalls Dance Hall is one of Camden’s first music venues

Dingwalls opened in 1973 in an empty packaging warehouse, and soon attracted customers from the world of music and art. Acts have included Frank Zappa, Bo Diddley, the Clash, the Stranglers and more recently Mumford & Sons. The four-level venue has a capacity for 500, with bands Sunday to Thursday and comedy every Friday and Saturday.

Other entertainment venues are Highlight Comedy, with four bars over three levels, and Lockside Lounge, a bar and restaurant with club nights, DJs and live music.

4. Famous fashion brands started at Camden Lock

Some famous fashion brands started out with a single stall at Camden Lock, including Red or Dead and BodyMap. The Lock has always attracted fashionable visitors, from David Bowie to Amy Winehouse. Spend a morning browsing racks of designer items and vintage one-offs, whether shoes, knitwear, unique t-shirts or vibrant accessories.

5. The first food stall was run by an Olympic medallist

Known simply as The Stall, Olympic sprinter June Carroll (nee Foulds) opened the Lock’s first food outlet in 1974. Soon there were queues down the street!

Now the West Yard is devoted to stallholders selling food from all over the world and there’s something for every taste. Among the most popular are Sonita’s Kitchen, serving North Indian curries, and When Mac Met Cheese, selling macaroni and cheese and deep-fried Oreos. In the nearby Dingwalls Gallery is Kim’s Vietnamese Hut, two-time winner of the King of Camden Best Food award.

More about Camden

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Best Christmas Markets in London Tue, 11 Dec 2012 11:04:04 +0000

Christmas shopping should be fun (so what if you pick up a present for yourself in the process?) We’ve picked out some seasonal shopping locations to help you tick gifts off your list and enjoy yourself in the process.

Camden Lock Night Market

Best for: Evening shopping

Camden’s night market makes for an ideal trip if you’re pushed for time in the day. It runs on Thursdays between 5 and 10pm, offering arts and crafts and tasty festive food for Christmas. There’s also live entertainment from the likes of the Belle Fleurs, who deliver a twist on classic rock, pop, punk and metal numbers. 13 and 20 Dec

Southbank Centre Christmas Market

Best for: A taste of Cologne in London

Feast on mulled wine, bratwurst and gingerbread hearts at the German-themed market which has been set up for the fifth year on Queen’s walk outside the Southbank Centre. The 80 chalets focus on food, but gifts like hand-crafted toys should make perfect stocking fillers. There’s a carousel to amuse the kids, and a handy chalet map can be downloaded hereUntil 24 Dec

London Glassblowing Christmas Open Studio

Best for: Christmas presents to treasure

Glassblowing is an elegant and beautiful art. Leading workshop London Glassblowing is opening its studio in London Bridge up to visitors for Christmas. It’s a chance to watch artists at work by the furnaces, and buy a piece from £45 if one takes your eye – a glass bauble perhaps. Mince pies and mulled wine will also be on offer. Until 24 Dec

Real Food Christmas Market

Best for: Gastronomic festivity

Real Food takes place weekly at the Southbank Centre Square, but at this time of year it takes on a distinctly festive focus. You can sample traditional mince pies fresh out of the oven from the Flour Station, pick up some marmalade vodka from Chase Distillery or get your

free-range Bronze or Norfolk turkey from The Thoroughly Wild Meat Co, which hangs its birds for a fuller flavour. 14-16 Dec and 20-23 Dec

Find more Christmas markets in our Christmas shopping guide here. Have any to add to the list? Share them below.

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Photo of the Week: Camden Lock Sat, 29 May 2010 08:00:38 +0000

This week’s London photo is by Earthsea Ged who snapped canal boat The Jenny Wren passing through Camden Lock.

If you’re out and about enjoying yourself in London this bank holiday weekend, don’t forget to share your pictures with the Visit London Flickr pool!

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