Start: Camden Town Underground Station
Finish: Camden Market Stables
Duration: 2 Hours
This post is a self-guided tour to show the visitor some of the many interesting things to see in Camden Town London. Be sure to take a look at our other self-guided tours of London.
You will begin your tour just outside Camden Town Underground Station. Upon exit of the station, turn RIGHT down Camden High Street until you see ELECTRIC BALLROOM.
Stop 1 – Electric Ballroom
Camden has had a vibrant music scene for decades and nowhere illustrates this better than Electric Ballroom.
Walk down this street and stop somewhere in the middle. Operating here for over 70 years, Electric Ballroom has held performances by top artists like Sid Vicious, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and the Clash.
Attempts to demolish the Electric Ballroom in order to make space to redevelop Camden Town Underground Station were put forward in 2004 but quickly struck down. Another proposal was made to demolish not just the Electric Ballroom but the original Dr Martens store and part of Camden Market as well in 2005 – but was struck down by the Prime Minister himself! The venue still stands in defiance of Transport for London, perhaps making it extra beloved by London locals who appreciate it for its’ history.
Continue down Camden High Street until you see the market sign above INVERNESS STREET on your LEFT.
Stop 2 – Inverness Street/Old Market
Inverness Street Market was previously the fruit and vegetable market for Camden locals – dating back decades. Originally, it carried fresh produce only, in comparison to the rest of the Market which sold goods and antiques. By 2012, however, Camden was home to numerous chain grocery stores, which eventually sounded the death-knell of the fruit and vegetable stalls here. By 2012, only two produce vendors were operating here and by 2013 they were gone completely…replaced by the snacks, souvenirs, baggage, and clothing stalls that still stand today.
Continue down Inverness Street then turn RIGHT onto ARLINGTON ROAD. Stop outside number 220: ARLINGON HOUSE.
Stop 3 – Arlington House (One Housing Group)
Dating back to 1905, Arlington House is a hostel for homeless youth. Today Arlington House is run by One Housing Group who maintain Arlington House as a shelter for the homeless with emphasis on training, rehabilitation and helping integrate their visitors back into modern society. Not a simple shelter these days, Arlington House has sub-market-rent flats as well as training space, hostel accommodation, business units, and artist studios.
In its’ history, Arlington House has been utilised by notable names such as George Orwell – who wrote about his experience in Down and Out in Paris and London, poet Brendan Behan, and is mentioned in the song One Better Day by The Madness – who, too, stayed here before making it big.
Continue down Arlington Road and cross over Jamestown Road. Walk down the path between the buildings that is CAMDEN WHARF. Stop when you get to CAMDEN LOCK (by the pub: THE ICE HOUSE)
Stop 4 – Camden Lock
Now you are standing near Regent’s Canal, facing Camden Lock. These locks have stood here since the early 19th century and are considered ‘listed’ – which means they are of particular historical and architectural significance and cannot be removed. In Victorian times, most goods being shipped into London from around the United Kingdom came to the capital via Regent’s Canal in the stretch that you are now facing. These locks would have been working nearly 24 hours a day to keep all the goods coming to London moving quickly along.
Today, with road, rail and air the common method of trade and travel, the locks are quiet and are typically only used for Regent’s Canal tours. Guests can take riverboats to travel through London along the water.
Now cross the bridge over the water and follow along the side of the canal. Walk until you begin to walk under a bridge and STOP here.
Stop 5 – Regent’s Canal
Regent’s Canal runs around the north of London, connecting Paddington in the west to Limehouse in the east. A total of 13.8km (8.6miles) long, the Canal travels through London Zoo, through Little Venice, past Kings Cross and out into the Thames in the eastern part of town. Once the Canal travels outside of London, it actually connects out through Birmingham into the rest of the United Kingdom. Only one part of a huge network of water canals, this stretch today is used by locals to relax alongside in the summer, stroll through Camden, travel on longboats, or cycling to and from work.
Continue following the water, you will be on the opposite side from a large building labelled The Pirate Castle. Keep going until you get to another overhead bridge and spot the art on the edge of the canal.
Stop 6 – Canal Street Art
The path along Regent’s Canal is a popular place for street artists to practice their trade. Street Art in London is ephemeral and changes constantly, so always keep an eye out as you travel along the path. The pieces we are highlighting here date from 2014 and are here at time of writing. By London artist Icarus, the two pieces here depict George Bush and Tony Blair being welcomed into the water by The Devil as well as Camden’s most famous resident, Amy Winehouse, facing St. Peter. Her face is undecided and up to the viewer – is she being carried into Heaven or is she being sent to Hell?
Head up and away from the canal, going up the pathway that leads past Melrose and Morgan. You will then come out onto GLOUCESTER AVENUE (across the street from The Engineer Pub) and STOP.
Stop 7 – Primrose
Here, your surroundings have changed dramatically. From the back-roads of Camden, you are now looking onto one of the most luxurious neighbourhoods in London. Locally known as Primrose Hill (after the hill of the same name in nearby Regent’s Park), this locale is home to celebrities like Jude Law, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Cameron Diaz just to name a few. The streets are wide, lined with trees, and the houses – surrounded by gates and monitored by security cameras – are gargantuan by London standards.
This neighbourhood tends to be quiet so enjoy a break from the buzz of nearby Camden, and as you walk along the streets, enjoy the Georgian architecture and the beautiful local pubs, including The Engineer – pictured here. The directions here will lead you along the main streets of this posh neighbourhood. As you stroll, notice that you will not see any chain companies (McDonalds, Starbucks, etc.) as this neighbourhood is fiercely loyal to local haunts and rejects the intrusion of popular companies. You will now also have the option of visiting the top of Primrose Hill itself.
Cross GLOUCESTER AVENUNE and walk down PRINCESS ROAD. Walk until you hit REGENT’S PARK ROAD and turn RIGHT. This will take you to the entrance of a park – PRIMROSE HILL. Here you can enter the park and you have the option of climbing the tallest hill for a view over London. Or keep on REGENT’S PARK ROAD until you get back to GLOUCESTER AVENUE. Here, take the pedestrian path onto the bridge and cross.
On the other side of the bridge take a RIGHT – you will be back on REGENT’S PARK ROAD. When you get to the junction with CHARLK FARM ROAD then STOP.
Stop 8 – Chalk Farm
You are now back in the hustle and bustle (having literally crossed the tracks) of the Camden neighbourhood. There is no chalk to be found here, despite the name, which derives from a centuries old village that used to stand here known as Chalcot. Chalk Town used to hold central London’s bus depot and was previously quite a rural location – but today it is just as busy as can be, filled with bars, restaurants and clubs.
Turn RIGHT onto CHALK FARM ROAD until you get to the large building on your right – THE ROUNDHOUSE.
Stop 9 – Roundhouse
Here you have another listed building – Roundhouse. Originally built in 1847 as a railway engine shed and turntable, the Roundhouse is living a second life as a performing arts venue. Like the earlier Electric Ballroom, this building has seen gigs by names recognised the world over: The Doors (their only UK appearance), Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Ramones…and the list goes on!
Continue down CHALK FARM ROAD. When you get to the second street on your RIGHT (look for the entrance to CAMDEN MARKET) turn RIGHT and enter CAMDEN MARKET.
Stop 10 – Camden Market Stables and Bazaar
You’re now entering Camden Market from the north side. This part of the market has been modelled after Moroccan style bazaars and is decorated to reflect this. Here, you will also make your way into the Stables Market. Originally, many of the boats traveling through Camden Lock along the Canal were often pulled along by horses, who walked along the canal, tugging the craft. This was previously the stables where those horses were kept (keep an eye out for the life sized horse statues dotting the Market here), but is now a large, vibrant warren of shops, stalls, crafts and food. It’s easy to get yourself lost in the Stables at Camden Market, but there are few better places to find yourself!
It is here that your tour will end.