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Camden's heritage trail campaign gathers speed

PUBLISHED: 13:45 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:46 07 September 2010

A CAMPAIGN to reveal Camden s secret world of historic railway tunnels, engines and underground horse stables is fast building steam. The Camden Railway Heritage Trust wants the train track treasures restored and opened to the public and is urging the cou

A CAMPAIGN to reveal Camden's secret world of historic railway tunnels, engines and underground horse stables is fast building steam.

The Camden Railway Heritage Trust wants the train track treasures restored and opened to the public and is urging the council to climb on board.

The trust, celebrating its second anniversary this month, has created a two-mile railway heritage trail taking in the five main elements of Camden's Victorian train history.

These are the Primrose Hill tunnel east portals built in 1840, the Camden Catacombs and Stables Yard - underground tunnels used originally by horses - the stationary winding engine vaults on Regent's Canal - which hauled trains up from Euston - the Roundhouse and the interchange building at Camden Lock.

The trail is aimed at locals and tourists alike and trust members are working hard to push the plan forward. Network Rail has just agreed to clean up the portals, ridding them of vegetation and graffiti - a milestone in the group's campaign.

Secretary Peter Darley said: "It is great Network Rail is cleaning up the portals but it is only the first step. We also want the engine vaults to be opened up to the public. At the moment, they are almost permanently flooded but they are in extraordinarily good condition and are fantastic.

"All the tunnels in Stables market and underneath used to be used to operate railways and they are the largest Victorian stables left in London. Some have been demolished but a lot are still there - including the one in which Cyberdog shop is open.

"A lot of the tunnels and vaults are owned by different people including Network Rail, British Waterways and private owners so it is a question of getting everyone to work together. We are putting together something that would be an added cultural cover to what is in Camden at the moment, which is pretty much a uniform retail cover - and we would really like Camden Council to climb on board with us."

The trust wants the council to think of all the different parts of train heritage as one entity to prevent parts of it being destroyed bit by bit. It plans to invite the Mayor to walk the trail.

Mr Darley added: "We are trying to raise our profile at the council because our idea seems to fit perfectly into so many of the things it wants to do, like creating communities, connecting the north and south parts of the borough and encouraging walking.

"The campaign has come a long way since we started and people like Network Rail and British Waterways are talking to us seriously now. This is great because we have a lot of history which needs to be preserved."

The heritage trail has 13 stops along the way and has already proved popular with a number of groups including the Camden Civic Society, Railway and Canal Historical Society and the Belsize Residents' Association.


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