The town of Camden north of London has managed to transform itself from an industrial town built on the back of railway development to a cosmopolitan community with internationally renowned markets and music venues.
Before the 18th century, Camden Town was a dry piece of land, with a few scattered farms, hardly worth a mention in the greater scheme of life in London. However, thanks to a radical lawyer and politician, today it has transformed into a bustling town of music, art and culture.
Camden is located on land that was once the manor of Kentish Town where the Karl Marx used to live. In 1791, Sir Charles Pratt acquired the manor through marriage and set forth with his grand plan. He started leasing land for people to build homes in the manor. He gave this town a chance to kick-start its development, so that by the late 1800s rural Camden was a hive of development culminating in the opening of the Camden Road railway station in 1850. During the same period, the Irish flocked into the area, fleeing famine in Ireland and looking for work as the railway and canal construction gained momentum. By 1820, the Grand Union Canal had been completed and in 1837, the first line to the Euston termini became operational.
The development suffered a setback during the Second World War when the railway termini were a major target. After the war, the town was gradually rebuilt and boasted the largest Greek-Cypriot community in London. In 1965, the London Borough of Islington was created to form part of inner London.
In 1801, the population was just over 95 000, it shot up in the 1890s to over 300 thousand, and continued to fluctuate over the years, due to social collapse and decay followed by various rejuvenation efforts. In 2001, the population had reached just over 200 thousand and climbing, according to census figures.
Camden has become a great place to live and play for Londoners, with its fame as the centre of fashion, music, art and entertainment. The area south of Camden High Street boasts the largest Bangladeshi community in London.
Major attractions include the markets, the most famous being the Camden Lock Market, originally founded in 1973. It is surrounded by others, including the Buck Street Market, Stables Market and Camden Lock Village. Tourists frequent these markets to pick up anything from books to antiques. Writer Charles Dickens, a one-time resident of Camden, would be very proud of this town today. Dickens probably got many a sleepless night over writing is books, if memory foam mattress and pillows had existed in his time, they would have surely helped.
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