Edward Marston – a query about the terms Camden and Camden Town
Q. I have recently discovered your Railway Detective books and am thoroughly enjoying reading them. They are obviously well researched but I have a question regarding the residence of Caleb and Madeleine Andrews. I was born and brought up in this area which we always referred to as Camden Town. The term Camden appeared to have come into common usage after the demise of St Pancras etc. and the popularity of Camden Lock market. Is it that the term Camden Town only came with the arrival of the Northern Line? We also have Kentish Town and, the less well known, Agar Town. All named after the origination owners of the land. I’d be grateful for your thoughts. Tom Grady, Colchester
A. This is an interesting question. In medieval times, Camden Town was the Manor or Cantelowes, held by the canons of St Paul’s. The Manor disappeared in the early 18th century when the area was still predominantly rural. The extension of the Regent’s Canal to Camden Town in 1820, bringing coal wharves and industry in its wake, began the development of the area that really took off when the railways arrived. By the 1850’s, it was an urban suburb. In conversational terms, Camden Town and Camden would have been interchangeable and that’s how I’ve treated them. Purists would always have used the full name – Camden Town.
Best wishes, Edward Marston