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12 Facts about Camden Lock Market

Thu 12 May


Behold, a brief history of Camden Lock Market

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Camden Lock is one of the world’s most famous markets. The now iconic retail destination started life as a cluster of craft workshops by the Regent’s Canal and has evolved to become one of London’s most important nerve centres of artisan creativity and trading. The Market is packed to the gunnels with stalls trading in handmade clothes and jewellery, music memorabilia, objects from ages past and authentic food from far flung locations. Some advice: commit the 12-point Camden trivia below to memory, your pub quiz team will thank you, one day… probably.

  • Camden Lock was one of London’s first crafts and antiques markets and retains its original focus as the principle Camden market for crafts. Make a bee line here for handmade, one-of-a-kind gifts and souvenirs. 
  • Every year 28 million visitors descend on the waterside retail site to experience the unique atmosphere and stock up on the eclectic wares on sale. 
  • Childhood friends and business partners Dr. Bill Fulford and Peter Wheeler are the original market founders. In early 1972 they bought what was then a run-down timber yard belonging to T. E. Dingwalls, and transformed the site that’s now known as Camden Lock Market. 
  • In 1973 a wine merchant called John Armit and his business partner Tony Mackintosh were responsible for turning the ‘run-down packaging warehouse’ beside the canal into Dingwalls Dance Hall and the venue was soon a notorious haunt for punk-rockers. 
  • Camden Lock doesn’t actually exist – the waterways flanking the market are three dual locks built in the early 1800s as part of the Regent’s Canal. 
  • The old lockkeeper’s cottage is now a branch of Starbucks. 
  • The Market’s birthday? Saturday 30 March 1974 was the date that a small pop up market – consisting of just 16 stalls – opened in Camden Town outside Dingwalls Dance Hall. Things snowballed from there (hundreds of stalls are now pitched on the site every day). 
  • By the mid-80s, The Daily Express had named Camden Lock ‘London’s trendiest Sunday hang-out’ stating that ‘many of Britain’s top designers started out with stalls here’. English Eccentrics and and 80s tastemakers BodyMap were just some of the Camden-bred brands that dominated the London fashion scene at that time. 
  • The late rock star formerly known as Prince briefly opened a shop for fans near the Lock on Chalk Farm Road. 
  • Famous singer and Camdonite, Amy Winehouse worked on a stall in Camden Lock Market when she was a teenager.  
  • Other famous talents who have shopped at the Market include (deep breath): Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Bette Midler, Eric Clapton, Barbara Streisand, David Bowie, Naomi Campbell, Giorgio Armani, Boy George and Sir Paul McCartney.
  • The market is open 364 days a year. It only closes on one day of the year and that’s Christmas Day.