At the far end of Camden Market near the Chalk Farm Tube Station in London you could once find an Aladdin’s cave of treasure. The majority of it has been demolished in the last year to make way for new development.
Camden Stables Market housed hundreds of dealers. Back in the day the area was a major railway depot the arches of which you can see in the photograph above. It was inside those arches that vendors set up their stalls. It was a treasure trove where you could find giant skeleton keys from manor houses, vintage Vivienne Westwood, antique furniture and home decor items from all over the world. While wandering through a cavernous tunnel connecting some of the stalls it wasn’t unusual to hear the beat of an African drumming class echoing in the distance.
Some of the Stables Market still survives although the Horse Hospital building has been refashioned into a bar and gallery. It was here I used to return and visit one particular vendor. Over the years he helped me put together a set of unused Walker and Hall cutlery from the 1930s. He would often scold me, in a kind way, for admiring something in his stall that didn’t fit with the program. I’d walk away empty handed only to come back weeks later to find he’d set aside a pristine set of knives for me. Even long after I moved away from London and sometimes didn’t make it back for a year at a time he’d always greet me warmly as if no time had passed.
I also used to haunt the place in search of vintage (Mid Century) tableware designed by Terence Conran. If you are a fan of Mid Century Modern and can’t afford the original furniture this is a great way to bring the design of the era into your home without breaking the bank.
Selling at the Horse Stables Market was a labor of love for the vendors. They were knowledgeable about their merchandise and happy to chat and share. I learned a lot from them.
London You’ve Changed