Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

4 for the price of 1

August 28, 2010 · 12 Comments

Today we were assigned to explore the Camden Street Market and the Stable Market. Four stops north of Goodge station we emerged into a neighborhood where London’s infamous punk culture is still thriving. Head shops, tattoo parlors, and jazz and rock bars lined the street as we made our way to the Camden Street Market. Residing in an empty lot designated for the market, the rows of tents provided the eager shoppers with clothing. After only a few minutes the group realized that most of the stands, which were run mostly by Southern and Eastern Asian immigrants, were hocking the same articles of clothing. Cheaply made summer dresses, sweaters, and tee shirts sporting ironic sayings and American pop culture icons were only a few of the items that we passed over and over again as we looked through all of the different tents. Although most of the garments did not have price tags on them, the proprietors were quick to offer “great” deals to us, which would become even “greater” deals after we had begun to walk away.

After emerging from the Camden Street Market we searched the neighborhood for the Stable Market. After around 30 minutes of searching (passing pubs with such colorful names as, “The Elephants Head,” “The Spread Eagle,” or my personal favorite “The World’s End”) we finally stumbled upon a crowd of people looking over the edge of a bridge. As we looked over ourselves to see what all of the fuss was, and soon uncovered the Camden Lock Market, and the Stable Market beyond it. These made up a sprawling market that seemed to run for miles.  In the Camden Street Market, the shop keepers were mostly English citizens who made their living selling among other things, hand made crafts, art, clothing, and antiques.  The shops at the center of Stable Market are housed in the dozens of old stables where over 250 of London’s horses were housed in the centuries before the automotive revolution. The market boasted as much diversity in its food as it did in its vast variety of vintage clothing. The mass of stalls prepared food from every continent (including Antarctica whose population of penguins eat mostly raw fish), which was perhaps, a vague reminder of the worldwide empire that was once ruled from London, as well as a sign of the how multicultural the city has become.  After three hours of adventuring through the market we were unable to see all of it’s shops or follow every vein of the market. Some highlights we saw were a spontaneous drum circle that had sprouted in the middle of an African drum store, a stall that offered foot messages to customers by having them soak their feet in a tank filled with fish, and cup cakes so small and well decorated that they would have put anything on the food network to shame. After a quick meal by the little river that snaked through the neighborhood, we gathered the bounty of dresses and skirts the girls of the group had acquired and regretfully said goodbye to the market, vowing to return again.

For more information see http://www.stablesmarket.com/

And for Time Out’s guide to the Camden Markets see http://admin.timeout.com/london/shopping/features/8798/Camden_Market_guide.html

Categories: 2010 Emily · 2010 Kaitlin · 2010 MatthewG · Uncategorized
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12 responses so far ↓

  •   maryc // Aug 28th 2010 at 17:59

    I find it very interesting that these two markets you explored were near each other, yet were vastly different (i.e. the venders, the wares). I wonder what the surrounding neighborhood was like? Why do you think these two markets are located where they are? I am amazed, and slightly jealous, that even after spending so long at these marketplaces, you still hadn’t explored it all!

  •   brownrac // Aug 28th 2010 at 18:13

    I’ve been waiting anxiously to experience some of the punk scene since we got here! I have a strong desire to put on platform combat boots and do a little head banging.

  •   hollymb // Aug 28th 2010 at 18:22

    The first market that you went to sounds like ours in terms of the merchandise available–so many vendors were selling the same wares, and in such close proximity! I was amazed that they all managed to sustain business. Where do you think they get their goods from?
    It’s interesting that people in your market were so intent on making you “great” deals, however. In Shepherd’s Bush, the vendors were all very quiet. We noticed one man who literally sat in the corner of his shop popping a sheet of bubble wrap while a few customers milled about. I wonder if we were just there too early for people to be invested in making sales?

  •   sarahb // Aug 28th 2010 at 18:25

    This is exactly how I remember it!…Well, except for the part with a foot massaging fish tank. That’s something I definitely did not see. However, I had the same reaction that you guys had. I loved all the food, clothing and chachke stands. And although I really enjoyed the Borough Market, I was a little disappointed that there weren’t any clothing or jewelery vendors. My guess is that since these are both very well known markets, they are used to tourists coming through and getting in everyone’s way. But did anyone give you a hard time for being a tourist and taking pictures? Borough had a lot of signs hung up prohibiting photography and Mikey was asked to leave when he got caught taking notes.

  •   Matthew Michrina // Aug 28th 2010 at 18:46

    I actually explored Camden Town several days ago as part of our Tube exercise. Unfortunately, we didn’t discover the full extremity of the neighborhood’s markets, but now that I know what I’m missing, I’ll be sure to go back when I have time!

    You mentioned that lots of the shopkeepers were Asian, but didn’t really mention much about the patrons of the market. Were they mostly Asian as well?

  •   melissag // Aug 28th 2010 at 19:10

    Getting your feet massaged my fish! I definitely need to try that one day. Thankfully I managed to escape my market without making any major purchases. However, if I visited your markets I probably would be penniless because of my obsession with vintage clothing. What kind of food did you guys have for lunch?

  •   Karl // Aug 29th 2010 at 02:34

    Nicely done. I’m deleting the duplicate of the media presentation.

  •   Elizabeth Barr // Aug 29th 2010 at 02:45

    Camden Town was where I had to go for the Tube exercise and I loved it- it seems like a really fun area, albeit a little out there 🙂

  •   mattg // Aug 29th 2010 at 18:02


    Most the shop keepers were from different parts of Asia in the Camden Street Market, but in that market most of the patrons were tourists or locals looking for a teeshirt or cheap sweater.

  •   kaitlin // Aug 29th 2010 at 19:04

    Sarah – that is so strange that you weren’t allowed to take pictures or notes. Do you know why?

    Professor – thank you for deleting the duplicate video. I really don’t know how there were two to begin with, and I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the second one.

  •   patrickmr // Aug 29th 2010 at 19:13

    It seems like there’s a pretty stark contrast between the two sections of market space- punk versus posh, shall we say? Since the markets seem to be close to one another, did it ever feel as if there were any animosity between the residential patrons of either side?

  •   mattg // Aug 29th 2010 at 19:47

    I wouldn’t say animosity. It seems like a symbiotic relationship. The minorities can peddle there wares and the patrons get cheap goods. It must be stressed though that the Camden Street Market, which was the market run by minorities, was mostly catering to tourists and the natives of the area seemed to gravitate more to the Lock market and Stables Market.

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