Camden Lock and the Market

Published June 6th, 2013, by Frances Lincoln.
ISBN-13: 978-0711233812.

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.



Join the Facebook page for Camden Lock and the Market: …

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


‘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

‘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.

Camden Lock Market is 40 years old next year. 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.

So I 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. And even though it’s only 40 years ago, it was sometimes a challenge balancing people’s conflicting memories of what happened and when.

Just when exactly did the market start? Who were the founders? When was the iconic bridge sign painted?

But for the 100 or so people I interviewed for the book, 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 of the people who tell their stories include Wayne Hemingway, founder of Red or Dead


June Carroll, ex-Olympic sprinter and owner of The Stall

The story of Camden Lock is one of dereliction and rejuvenation, of creativity versus commercialization. Many traders have worked here on and off for decades, some continuing a family tradition. 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 is world famous, no doubt about it. Here a Singaporean in London explains why…

 Do you have any memories of Camden Lock?

The picture below was taken by David Trace, a photographer who was based at Camden Lock in the early days. His nephew, Shakya Kumara, has created a memorial website for his uncle,, and would love people to get in touch with any memories.

Camden Lock and the Market also tells the story of Dingwalls Dance Hall and The Regent’s Canal

Dingwalls Dance Hall

Dingwalls Dance Hall opened in 1973. Founders John Armit and Tony Mackintosh tell the story of how they first discovered the venue – and what happened on opening night. The dance hall quickly became a renowned live music venue in Camden, with many hair-raising episodes.

dave_cutting1-1341The book includes archive images from Roundhouse and Dingwalls photographer Roger Morton, and memorabilia from John and Tony.


Did you work, rest or play at Dingwalls between 1973 and 1986? There’s a (private) Facebook page here for musicians who played there, staff and regular club members: DINGWALLS DANCEHALL (THE ORIGINAL) EX PATS, HISTORY AND USELESS INFORMATION

The Regent’s Canal

Camden Lock wouldn’t exist without the Regent’s Canal. The first part – from Paddington to Camden Town – opened on the Prince Regent’s birthday on August 12th, 1816. Then on August 1st 1820, the entire canal was officially launched.

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 London Canal Museum tells lots of interesting stories. There is an old Victorian ice well in the centre of the museum, into which visitors often throw pennies as if it were a wishing well…

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.
When it all started it looked like this
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.


Explaining how I used to sell shrunken crisp packets on a stall in the late 1970s
Jackie Jones was one of the first craftspeople at the Lock, she and her husband Rob attended the launch, which he wrote about on his blog here. 
2013 Camden Lock & The Market Caitlin Davies book launch 03 Jun
The Lock’s two founders Bill Fulford and Peter Wheeler. Photos taken by David Fearn for the Lock

Another artist who used to work at the Lock, Janice Issitt, showcases some of her beautiful work on her blog –

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

Signing books with David Fathers, author of The Regent’s Canal

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

An article in the Independent about Camden Lock’s new owner and the market on the stock exchange, December 2014