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History

The Early Years

Wed 20 Jan
Camden Lock Market photographed in 1989

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Believe it or not, it all started with just 16 stalls...

Today Camden Market is one of London’s busiest retail destinations so it’s quite difficult to imagine that just a few decades ago the market didn’t even exist. The trading history of Camden can be traced back to the early 70s, and more specifically, to the 30th March 1974 when a brand new Saturday market was opened in Camden Town. The newly-born market housed a total of 16 traders, selling antiques, jewellery and arts and craft. Now Camden Market is a home to hundreds of small businesses bringing to the area the multicultural diversity that we’ve all come to love.

But the historical heritage of Camden goes far beyond retail. An interesting fact about Camden Market that you might not be aware of is that back in the 19th century the whole area, from Camden Lock all the way to the Roundhouse, was an industrial site of distilleries and warehouses all dedicated to producing world renowned gin. But as we know, change is the only constant so over the past two centuries Camden Town has been transformed into retail and leisure destination losing its initial industrial purpose in the process, and although some of the old buildings still exist the area’s traditions in gin distilling were all but long forgotten.

That was until 2014 when Mark Holdsworth introduced to the world Half Hitch Gin, a bespoke blend of gin, distilled in Camden Market and unique for its additional key ingredient - Malawian black tea and Calabrian bergamot. On the market for little over a year, Half Hitch Gin has already received a gold medal from Gin Masters and the brand can be found in high profile venues and establishments across the capital, such as Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, and the Aqua bar in The Shard. Guests of prestigious London hotels such as the Bulgari, the Ham Yard and St. James can now also enjoy the uniquely exotic taste of Half Hitch Gin.

Ronnie Carroll on a stall in Camden Lock Market in 1976

The Half Hitch Gin micro distillery is located in Camden Lock’s West Yard only feet away from the biggest former gin warehouse in Camden, the Interchange Building. Its open doors policy allows visitors to observe the process of distilling, taste the renowned spirit, and even learn more about the history of gin from Mark himself, who’s always happy to share some interesting stories and curious facts.

Mark chose Camden Market to set up his gin distillery not just because of the town’s history in gin making but also because of the more personal significance the area holds for him. Having worked in Camden Market in his teenage years, Mark fondly remembers the vibrancy, the rich cultural heritage and the strong sense of togetherness. Today these are still the factors and core values that define Camden Market, and independent traders, makers and brands like Mark’s Half Hitch Gin are the backbone of our community.

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