Camden Canal Market opens with fanfare

Ben Miller A 16-PIECE brass band sounded the reopening of Camden Canal Market on Saturday as it rose from the ashes after last year s devastating fire. The ceremony brought cheer to the many traders whose livelihoods were scuppered when the flames rose hi

Ben Miller

A 16-PIECE brass band sounded the reopening of Camden Canal Market on Saturday as it rose from the ashes after last year's devastating fire.

The ceremony brought cheer to the many traders whose livelihoods were scuppered when the flames rose high into the skies in February 2008.

Shoppers were also delighted with the makeover, as street performers and other entertainers joined in the celebrations.


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Before the fire, the market mainly featured food stalls and some people said it looked run-down, old and unsafe. Now it has trebled in size, with more than 200 stalls selling arts and crafts, vintage clothing, antiques, jewellery, posters, bags and souvenirs.

Matthew McMillan, deputy chief executive of trading company Camden Town Unlimited, said: "It's fantastic news it's back on its feet. A lot of money has been pumped into the site.

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"It will be much higher quality. For example, Lambretta scooters have been turned into seats.

"It has a great mix - it's like Bangkok meets Bournemouth, with food from Thailand and stalls looking like beach huts. You can only have it in Camden really."

Former traders returning to the market included Clem Anderson, owner of Camden Town Poster Company. Mr Anderson, who has been trading for over 16 years, said: "It's better than it was. The old stalls were falling down, it was unsafe.

"I think it's good, fantastic. I'm very positive. There's a nice vibe - it's picturesque by the canal."

The new market also features workshops, studios for young designers, galleries and an exhibition space, which will all help create a vibrant atmosphere over the summer and beyond.

Justin Whit, 27, from Camden Town, said: "I think the new design and layout is amazing compared with before. Before, it was quite rundown but now there's a new lease of life - it's a new era."

New businesses have joined the market, including Anetta Doraczynska, 36, who owns Mindful Being with her partner. She said: "I love the wooden houses, it's a good idea. Camden is wonderful. People who trade help each other.

"It's a creative place, with so many ideas for creative businesses and so many creative people."

And the market seems to be bucking the recession with sales up 15 per cent and plenty of demand from shoppers and traders

Mark Alper, project director for site owners Camden Market Holdings, said: "We are delighted to be opening the market at last following the fire. We have more than 3,000 people waiting to take space here - especially in the current economic climate this is a real indicator of the market's popularity.

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