Living

Education

SchoolsFrances Buss (Ida Perrin, 1896) have included private homes, a Ragged school, National Board Schools and Collegiate schools. The leadership of Frances Buss for girl’s education has gained national recognition.

For adult learning, Camden Town had day and evening institutes and for a short while, a Literary and Scientific Institute led by James de Carle Sowerby.  The Veterinary College in College Street and (from 1907) the Working Men’s College in Crowndale Road were also important local educational institutions.

Religion.

Places of worship  The parish church of St Pancras, rebuilt in the nineteenth century, served Somers Town. Four large Church of England churches were built within Camden Town, as well as Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian chapels – and briefly a synagogue in York Way. Some of the churches had outreach missions. There was a Salvation Army hall in Rochester Road and a Spiritualist hall (Conan Doyle laid the foundation stone) in Rochester Square.

Leisure.

There are memories of recreation and entertainment in the fields- balloons, races, tea gardens.  There was Devonshire wrestling and occasional duels. And Camden Town had a cricket team.

Commerce.

Men and women both had employment – in homes, small workshops and larger factories as well as for transport.

The land was first cultivated as hay for feed and then dug as bricks for building.  The first commercial buildings were the Mother Red Caps inn and the Veterinary College. There were shops along main streets.  Mews workshops were originally provided to service the houses, but in time became independent small businesses businesses, such as those servicing the motor trade or offering photography. 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. Some of the larger businesses were household names.

Goodall card factory, College Street
Goodall card factory, College Street
Arts and sciences.

Camden Town’s artisan and professional classes have been born in Camden Town as well as coming to live there.  For some, it was a place of transition, early or later in their lives, choosing Camden Town for its proximity to central London’s commercial centre and its scholarly institutions.

It has been a place for engravers and photographers, scientists and writers, musicians and artists

Perceptions

Mid-nineteenth century writing presented Camden Town as modest and respectable, a place of refuge perhaps from difficulties rather than challenging. For some it was a place of temporary lodgings, while music hall songs suggested quick romance. Artists have painted Camden Town, although not all places are accurately named.

Society

A range of political and societal perspectives, including Booth’s survey of 1891, which shows Camden Town relatively advantaged compared with surrounding Somers Town and Kentish Town. Although model housing was started at Battle Bridge (St Pancras), the only rehousing projects at the time within Camden Town itself were at the very edges – Goldington House by St Pancras Vestry and  at Clarence Road (Durdan’s House) by Kentish Town.