Above: Camden Lock
London may be home to Topshop, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer and the like, but don’t let these fashion brands fool you. London is also host to flea markets, which serve as haven for the cash strapped and eccentric. At Camden Lock Market, not only will you stumble upon great finds, you’ll also be able to put your haggling skills to good use. And let’s not forget that you’ll satisfy your thirst for some squalor. If you’re a hobo at heart, you’ll feel right at home. If you’re the exact opposite, you’ll get a taste of it and, who knows, you might even enjoy the experience.
Camden Lock Market started as a craft market selling bohemian, artistic stuff in the 70s. (But history records that Camden was originally a passage area for transport of agricultural goods from farms to London which eventually became a timber market for ship builders.) It has since expanded, and it now includes four major market areas: the West Yard, the East Yard, the Market Hall, and the Middle Yard. The West Yard features the canal boat pier, the Lockside Lounge, which is a 1,000-foot balcony that offers a good view of the canal, al fresco dining area, and good atmosphere. It also has other shops and stalls. The East Yard overlooks the canal and has many interesting and quirky shops such as The FairyGothMother. The Market Hall is a Victorian-styled indoor shopping area which has a several floors of shops and stalls. The Middle Yard is home to Dingwalls, which has been keeping alive its vibrant music scene for 30 years now and where bands such as Coldplay, White Stripes, Toploader, Beta Band, among others, had played recently, and Jongleurs, a world-famous stand-up comedy act. The Jongleurs hold a show on Fridays and two shows on Saturdays.
It also has cafes and stalls selling exotic food in huge servings at affordable price. Rare and hard-to-find books and custom-made jewellery sold here will please any finicky collector. Of note is Tribu, which is known for its experimental designs and natural materials. For a reasonable price, you can have handcrafted, custom-made body adornments. This market has practically everything for everyone. The only difference is that you can’t find this kind of artistic spirit anywhere else. Camden Lock Market open from 10 am to 6 pm daily. But if you’re after that frenetic energy that a living, breathing place exudes, go there on weekends, when the Market by the canal really comes alive.
Buses 24, 27, 29, 31, 134, 168, 214, 253, 274, and the C2 can take you to Camden Town. If you’re taking a train, Camden Road and Kentish Town stations are within walking distance of the Market. If you’re traveling by the London Underground, the Camden Town and Chalk Farm Road underground stations on the Northern Line are also within walking distance of the Market. Or if you intend to travel by water, take the London Waterbus Company, which regularly operates between the Market, the London Zoo, and Little Venice.