Camden Lock and the Market

Published 2013, by Frances Lincoln.

‘Full of both character and characters…If you know the market well, and witnessed much of its short but eventful history, you will savour every sentence, and simply must buy this book.’
– The Londonist

‘A beautiful, detailed study of the area’s transformation from industrial wasteland to iconic global brand.’
– The Kentishtowner


Available at independent book shops such as Owl Bookshop, Daunts, Chain Reaction and Araucaria at the Lock, Map Gift Shop in Archway, Urban Outfitters and from  Frances Lincoln.  Also available from WH Smith. Find your nearest independent bookshop.


Listen to a chat about the history of the lock on THE ROBERT ELMS SHOW and on CAMDEN LOCK’s own RADIO SHOW



‘Lovely archival photography of Camden denizens throughout the years… Anyone with fond memories of the market will enjoy the results.’
– Amateur Photographer

‘A story of blood, sweat and tears.’
– Travel GBI

‘A riveting read.’
– Northwest Magazine

‘A heart-warming history.’
– Camden New Journal

‘A bright, colourful publication about a bright, colourful canalside attraction. Well-written and beautifully illustrated.’
– Waterways World

‘The book takes you on a magical mystery tour of the legendary Camden Lock Market, detailing its history – highs and lows. You get a true sense of the market and how it’s changed through its vivid photography by Nigel Ramdial.’
– ilovemarkets


The idea behind the book

When I was a teenager I worked on a stall at Camden Lock, paid 50p an hour to sell badges in the shape of miniature chocolate bars. In those days there were just a few rows of stalls, people sold grandad shirts, buttons that looked like real strawberries, and there was one food stall that sold hamburgers in pitta.

So how did it get so big? How did it manage to spread the way it has? What happened to the original craftspeople and stallholders? I thought it would be a good idea for a book and set about trying to find the artists and craftspeople who first worked out of the converted Victorian horse stables, and the stallholders who were there on day one when the market opened.

All of them remember Camden Lock with love and fondness. It’s where fortunes and friendships were made, careers forged, and lives changed forever…Some started with a Saturday job and never looked back, others made a spur of the moment decision to try their luck on a stall and ended up with a whole new career.


Camden Lock wouldn’t exist without the Regent’s Canal, officially opened in the summer of 1820. But building the new waterway was far from easy; an impressive feat of engineering, it was eight and a half miles long and required 12 locks and three tunnels. It took eight years to build, with work repeatedly delayed by land disputes, fistfights, and endless money problems.

The Regent’s Canal had a lasting impact on Camden Town, today Hampstead Road Lock(s) is often known as Camden Lock.

But in fact, Camden Lock is the most famous lock in the world that doesn’t exist. (Images kindly provided by Northside Archives)

The book was launched at Lockside Lounge, Camden Lock, on June 3rd, 2013. Many of the original craftspeople and stallholders came back to the Lock for the first time in years, some hadn’t seen each other for decades.

Talks and events
July 22nd, 2014, 7pm, ‘The History of Camden Lock’, reading and book signing, at the Spread Eagle Pub, Camden Town, with David Fathers, author of The Regent’s Canal: An Urban Towpath Route from Little Venice to the Olympic Park

September 25th, 2013, 6.30pm, with Michele Hanson and Wendy Wallace at the ArchWay With Words Literary Festival

September 21st, 12pm, with Joanna Briscoe, at the ArchWay With Words Literary Festival

September 17th, 12.30pm, in conversation with Wendy Wallace, at the Ham & High Literary Festival

September 1st, Angel Canal Festival

September 5th, eiClub London, Breakfast Subject Salon: Autumn Books – Looking Ahead to the Frankfurt Book Fair, at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence

July 10th at an Islington Libraries Event, with Michele Hanson and Wendy Wallace

July 16th at the Owl Bookshop, Kentish Town, with Michele Hanson and Wendy Wallace

Other press coverage

The Kentishtowner Plus a Q&ACamden New Journal

Waterways World

Love Camden