Things You Never Knew About The Borough Of Camden

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 26 months ago
Things You Never Knew About The Borough Of Camden

The borough of Camden stretches from the tip of Hampstead Heath, almost all the way down to the Thames. You probably know about Camden's markets, the Regent's Canal and the Bloomsbury Group — here's some lesser-known trivia.

Photo: tezzer57

1. It nearly wasn't called Camden at all

Camden was formed in 1965, when the three former boroughs of St Pancras, Hampstead and Holborn were amalgamated. However, it wasn't always a sure thing that the new borough was to be called Camden. It was pointed out that the name Camden was only representative of one small area within a borough stretching from Hampstead and Highgate in the north, to Holborn in the south.

An alternative idea was raised: Fleet or Fleethurst — after the subterranean river that runs through the borough (see video below). This was met with a lack of enthusiasm; it was pointed out that the River Fleet was now little more than an underground sewer, and many felt that naming the new borough such would not give it an auspicious start.

2. Award-winning food

The actual area of Camden, within the Borough of Camden (it's confusing, we know), is most well-known because of its markets. Whatever you want they've got it. A particular speciality of the markets is delicious food.

The first food stall in Camden Market was opened by June Carroll in 1974. It was known as... 'The Stall'. Carroll won Olympic medals for Great Britain, getting a bronze in Helsinki in 1952 and following it up four years later with a silver in Melbourne.

Freud Museum. Photo: Matt Brown

3. Museum central

Camden has more museums than any other London borough. Almost all of the 13 establishments on Museum Mile are in Camden. Some of our other favourites include: London Canal Museum, Keats House, Freud Museum and Erno Goldfinger's former home, 2 Willow Road.

4. Largest migrant population

Camden is home to immigrants from countries as wide-ranging as Bangladesh to Ireland. But the borough's largest immigrant population might come as a shock: 2.8% of those living in the borough originate from the United States.

This is especially fitting considering the borough was named after Charles Pratt, 1st Earl of Camden. Pratt was a politician who argued for mediation rather than military action during the American War of Independence. Perhaps that's why so many Americans choose to make their home in Camden.

Apparently those are hands. Photo: Javi

5. The council emblem isn't a recycling symbol

At a glance Camden's logo looks like little more than a friendly reminder for residents to put out their recycling bins on a Sunday night. It especially stands out from all the many other central London boroughs' logos, which bear heraldic coats of arms. One in this style was initially drawn up for Camden, combining the symbols for the boroughs it was replacing and adding an elephant from the arms of Marquess Camden.

But in 1965, a heraldic coat was thought too traditionalist — and a more forward-thinking logo was suggested. Step up our favourite recycling logo... except that's not what it is at all. It's actually eight interlinked hands, representing: voting, giving, receiving and unity.

So, Camden residents, just remember that. Or remember to recycle, which obviously you haven't been doing, judging by the nation's league table [pdf].

Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate. Photo: Sam Codrington

6. The largest listed building in England

The Alexandra and Ainsworth estate is a brutalist marvel with its slanting greys, and concrete balconies. It's also the largest listed building in England. Camden was a hub for brutalist building in the 20th century — it needed housing to be delivered quickly, and in large amounts. This was the most efficient means possible — but it's weathered well.

7. The borough resembles a classic author

Maybe this is somewhat of a stretch, but have a squint and see what you think...

With thanks to Camden50 for help with the article.

Last Updated 29 December 2016