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Camden Town is a Georgian suburb to the north of London. Lying between Bloomsbury and Hampstead, its character is still substantially retained and delivers a significant contribution to London’s heritage.
From this introduction, you can read of Camden Town’s origins, building, nineteenth century life and conservation for the future.
Camden Town’s name comes from Lord Camden, Charles Pratt, who inherited the land at Pancras through his wife’s family. The land lay across the River Fleet and at first had just an inn (Mother Red Cap) and a farm at the former manor house (by Pancras Workhouse).
Building houses started in the south, with houses along Camden High Street and the Veterinary College built by the Fleet near old St Pancras church. The Regent’s Canal, opening in 1820, was bridged by five roads. A new road (Camden Road) in 1825 extended development to the north east, setting out villas and squares as well as terraces.
Smaller terraces housed working class families, artisans and tradesmen; in larger villa houses lived middle classes. Churches were built – both Established and dissenting – and schools for boys and girls.
Camden Town was referred to in literature and became a residence for people in the arts, sciences and in music. As well as skilled trades such as engraving and making musical instruments, there was employment at the canal wharves and the railways and in factories for printing.
After the First World War much of the housing was sold to private investors and to the Church Commissioners. After the Second World War, parts of the estate were demolished for rehousing; but from the 1960s (with changing law enabling tenants to buy their freehold) the remaining Georgian housing was improved by both private owners and the Council.
Re-organisation of London administration in 1965 brought together the former boroughs of Holborn, St Pancras and Hampstead as the new Borough of Camden. Yet the present political ward boundaries and the conservation areas take little account of the historical pattern of Camden Town.
These pages present the history of Camden Town to show its contemporary relevance.