Short trip to Camden Town will help put traders back on their feet

EVERY so often I make a point of venturing beyond Ham&High territory, setting forth for Greenwich or Barnes, Docklands or Richmond, or further afield to the City of London s fabulous Burnham Beeches in leafy Buckinghamshire. Sub-consciously, I may do this

EVERY so often I make a point of venturing beyond Ham&High territory, setting forth for Greenwich or Barnes, Docklands or Richmond, or further afield to the City of London's fabulous Burnham Beeches in leafy Buckinghamshire. Sub-consciously, I may do this because of the realisation that if you wanted to, it would be possible to live in one London postcode without really knowing or caring what was happening in the next.

London is often described as a collection of villages. While the description doesn't always fit, it certainly applies to these parts, where the sense of identity and shared community interest is as strongly felt as it would be in rural towns or villages where generations grow up alongside each other.

The danger is that we become so at ease with the special ambiance of places like Hampstead, Highgate, Crouch End and St John's Wood that venturing into other parts of this great capital can seem like an expedition to the back of beyond.

This was brought home to me when I asked a friend if they were interested in attending an event in Vauxhall. ''Vauxhall? Why on earth would I ever want to go there,'' was the wide-eyed response. That's fair enough in a way, because we have countless treasures on our own doorstep and let's face it, there's no better part of London to live in than what we proudly refer to as 'Ham&High territory'.


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So we tend not to get overly excited about what's happening elsewhere, or even around the next corner. If you've lived here long enough, you've probably seen it all before, anyway. It takes something truly shocking, like a terrorist incident, to heighten our collective sense of belonging.

The Camden fire doesn't belong in that category. No-one died. What was lost can be rebuilt. Yet it was reassuring to hear from many readers - many of whom had not visited Camden Town in years - who were genuinely concerned about the impact of the blaze (in this respect it's rather disconcerting that at times media interest seemed preoccupiedwith just one part of the story - a handful of rich celebs losing their favourite watering hole).

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I've had some interesting conversations with readers who reckon that even Camden Town is too far removed to be of interest to them in their daily lives. But just down the road from the heights of Hampstead and Highgate, ordinary hard-working people have lost their homes and their livelihoods. It's important to remember that. And important to do what we can to help them rebuild, even if it's just to promise ourselves that it won't be quite so long before our next shopping trip to this vibrant, dynamic and still unique part of London.

Geoff Martin

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