Comment: HS2 will change the face of rock ‘n’ roll Camden forever

Suzi Martin

Suzi Martin - Credit: Archant

A scene is unfolding in the heart of Camden with which I am all too familiar.

Businesses are feeling pressure from the powers that be, and fear that the formidable blueprints for the monstrous HS2 will be given the green light, full steam ahead!

As news of the impending demolition of old Camden Town spreads like wildfire, local residents and traders, artists and business owners alike congregate in cafes and bars, where conversation quickly turns to the dreaded demolition of our historic market. It’s beyond comprehension, the idea that we could lose our oldest trading place, our picturesque bridge and canal, landmark buildings and pubs, soon to be replaced by the soulless void of a building site, articulated lorries and heavy machinery ripping at our roots and polluting our airwaves with the sound of the pound.

Knowing how best to speak out though is as daunting as our recent super storms. If HS2 gets the green light, let there be no mistake, it will change the face of Rock N Roll Camden forever.

So my new venture with partner in business, Peter Doherty, it’s become a bittersweet affair, nesting in the belly of Camden’s Stables and listening to the whispers of our forefathers, for much has already changed beyond recognition in this oldest of market places.

Still, there is evidence on every corner that Camden’s scene is thriving … cottage industries blooming in abundance, creative ventures by the train load, music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air.

Bohemia is alive and well in NW1, and we’ll not go out without a fight.

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Flying the flag in Camden and setting up a small business is a battle cry to preserve our heritage and arts, canals, rivers, old buildings, cobbled streets, local boozers, market places. Now is the time to support our locals and open our eyes to the scenery of Camden. Most importantly, object to the bulldozing and permanent scarring of our landscape and join our

Save Camden Get Off The Rails campaign at or contact Suzi Martin www.dohertymartin.comIn the meantime, here’s my guide to what can be enjoyed.

Pop into Seawise in Camden Stables and enjoy the best fish and chips in Camden, or my latest addiction, the grilled oysters.

Dig deeper and venture underground into the antique market. At the entrance you can find What Goes Around Comes Around, Camden’s biggest and best vintage clothes and accessories store. Harry’s vintage teashop serves everything from boiled eggs and soldiers to cream teas and Pimms, with retro furnishings, rails of vintage clothing and an upright piano played by Harry himself to set the tone.

Settle in for the afternoon with a good book from Michael’s bookstore, offering a huge range of second hand books of all genre, in good condition and cheap!

Buy customised headwear from Mr Snappys, T-shirts from Big Teeza, PJL crafts, the London Sound Academy, Betos Art Gallery, local designer Ochee, vintage toys and tins, Palestinian crafts, BH urban wear, Pretty British, photographers studio, are all in the largely undiscovered depths of Camden’s Stables. Steeped in history and brimming with new stalls it really is worth the plunge.

Delve into Camden’s underground scene and be sure to pop in to say hello at Doherty Martin & Co for a rummage.

All this talk of train tracks is enough to get anyone up in arms, but better still, get up to the Hawley Arms, and discuss over a delicious pint of lemongrass ale (my tipple of choice at the moment) that Hawley is your typical boozer, although a tourist trap at weekends and famously a pilgrimage for Amy Winehouse fans. The roof terrace offers a perfect location for hazy summer sessions, and its ever-changing backdrop of freight trains and graffiti (mainly homages to Amy, the late queen of Camden) set the scene for all that is Rock N Roll about Camden.

Stand on the canal bridge, watch the barges passing, see the waters rise and fall, the local waterways communities mingle on the banks, arty types huddle around a guitar and a bag of beers, alongside the buskers, street performers, office workers, tourists and traders, the perfect plot for people-watching by day and perfect at sunset too.

Lock 17 terrace is ideal and has a very generous happy hour from Monday to Thursday.

Camden canal as we know it may soon be a distant memory, but romance here is far from dead.

Take in the sights from a different perspective by catching the singing boater and you’ll be serenaded along the canal, or catch a lunchtime cruise on one of the many boat tours from Walkers Quay. Be sure to grab a super food salad and organic beer at Spiral Lounge before setting sail. Camden’s only vegetarian, organic food and music venue is a dark horse: whether you’re a health freak or not this café’s location is hard to beat, as is the chilled vibe and canal views. You’ll get more than just a health kick out of this little gem.

There’s street food from every corner of the world in Camden Lock, where you’re guaranteed to get a holiday buzz just mooching around and sampling the eclectic selection of worldwide dishes. You’d be hard-pushed to cram as much variety into any one space as we manage to do here in NW1.

The Roundhouse on Chalk Farm Road boasts the beach in the summertime, year- round gigs, and is a fantastic spectacle with a legendary musical history. Opposite is the tiniest of venues, the Spiritual Bar. Contrary to its size it hosts huge talents and has fast become a favorite haunt of local musicians.

Nearby, Proud rotates galleries and events faster than a pole dancer can swing her tassles, with everything from burlesque nights to stripped-back acoustic sets on show.

Even with all this, I am only skimming the surface, but there’s something for everyone and every taste. So get out and tickle your taste buds, or feast your senses.

If HS2 goes through, these really are the good old days, so enjoy Camden, before HS2 heralds last orders.