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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 21 February 2008
More significant damage to market than by fire

Like everyone else I was shocked and saddened by the Camden Town fire.
However, expressions of sadness at the losses incurred need to be set against the more serious vandalism which has been taking place in recent weeks on the other side of the Chalk Farm Road, where the whole length of the main market to the west of the Stable block has recently been razed to the ground. The entire intricate former network of vaulted brick cellars crammed with interesting “quality” clothing and collectibles is now rubble. To be replaced by what?
Four bland geometric blocks – huge glass
slot-machines intended to make money for their developers.
The charm of the markets at Camden depended on their complex layout and intimate human scale, which will be entirely lost in the new scheme, approved, we should recall, by Camden Council. The scale of destruction from the fire is tragic enough, but alas the damage to the main market is even more significant.
Happily the Hawley Arms can be restored, but the Stable Market area has been destroyed forever. This is vandalism indeed, and the mayor’s expressions of regret at the fire seem pretty sham to me since, as far as I’m aware, he’s quite happy to see the main market area wrecked. Why should anyone come to visit yet another faceless mall, kitted out with yet more surrogate-Starbucks and expensive pizza joints?
My fear is that this wholesale and entirely unnecessary “modernisation” threatens to kill off the very geese which laid Camden’s golden eggs, namely the many small-scale specialist traders who worked there and the countless visitors who came to Camden precisely for what it was, and on whom the prosperity and character of the whole area depends. Or should I say depended?
Simon Watney
Albert Street, NW1

I AGREE with your Comment of February 14 about the Camden Lock fire.
It was the eagerness of the New Labour government to deregulate public services in pleasing market forces which contributed to the fire.
However, this was only part of the cause since the market was filled with many more traders than it could hold, thus increasing the risk of fire and the landowners and traders have to take their share of responsibility. It was almost certain that with so many traders packed in such a small area a fire could start. Profit seems to please people more than safety.
David Haralambidis, NW5

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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