Rant of the week: Camden Stables Market

I don’t often get up to Camden Lock these days, but on Monday we had to go to a particular shop in Camden Town and on discovering that the friend with us had never been before decided to show him around. It’s the first time I’ve really had the chance to explore the farther parts of the new four-storey development that replaced the Arches and the Stables.

Annoying sculpture

Something about these horse sculptures makes me very angry...

I have to say that I am really disappointed by the sheer naffness of the new development. The developer has obviously been trying to create a pastiche of the old railway arches which it has replaced and to my mind has not succeeded at all. Example – some shops have been created with the circular arched roof but lined with corrugated plastic – the genuine arches are made of brick. I suppose I should have expected this after the soulless experience of the Stables Market, where old bits of timber have been used to create ‘stables’ housing shops selling antiques and memorabilia, in imitation of the old Horse Hospital. But look up and you see an unfinished modern ceiling. As for those horrible horse statues randomly distributed across the market – don’t get me started.

Yes, there are loads more stalls – but many sell the same stuff. there are lots more food outlets, though they don’t seem to have increased the seating capacity of the outdoor food court. Since they raised the rents a couple of years ago many of the old stall/unit holders have moved out or downsized.

After the Stables we popped over the road to the Canalside Market, or Camden Lock Village, as it’s now called. This was the market badly affected by a fire a couple of years back, which gave the owners (the same developers who own the Stables) the opportunity to clear the site. It has also grown since I was last here, with more food outlets and lots of identical little wooden cabins selling a variety of stuff, but mainly clothes. Some of the goods on sale are obviously fake (we were amused by the ‘Converse’ bags with the slogan ‘Converses All Stars’), which surprised me as I thought Camden Council are fairly hot about that sort of thing. Why the little huts rather than more substantial structures? A friend of mine who owns a shop adjoining the market tells me that the landowner is trying to get consent to redevelop the whole site.

I have to admit, I quite like the Canalside Market and the unusual scooter style seats in the eating area have become iconic. But in future when I bring friends to Camden Town I think we will stick to the original Camden Lock Market and avoid the Stables altogether.


About Holloway Rev

Paul Weary is a Methodist minister living and working in Holloway, North London.
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