North London's Cultural Guide

Abandoned Camden Market: stunning photos show the last days of Hawley Wharf

Eerie, beautiful… and about to vanish forever

Deserted: Leybourne Road (All photos © London Belongs To Me)
Deserted: Leybourne Road (All photos © London Belongs To Me)

Right now, there’s a corner of Camden Town that perfectly captures the restless momentum of a city. Revealing how the hard-edges of our seemingly immovable landscape of concrete, brick and steel are, in fact, constantly shifting.

Chained shut: Camden's canalside market, awaiting redevelopment
Chained shut: Camden’s canalside market, awaiting redevelopment

Step just off the main tourist drag for a last glimpse of Hawley Wharf before the bulldozers move in later this month. You’ll find an explosion of creativity: a temporary canvas with splashes of colour ahead of the destruction, and inevitable regeneration to follow.

Awaiting the inevitable: vacated cottages
Awaiting the inevitable: vacated cottages

Georgian villas and early Victorian cottages have proved no match for the march of progress. While businesses that have operated from the crumbling railway arches for decades – the Citroen repair shop, the famous Scar recording studios – have also had to move aside.

RIP to all this
RIP to all this

A wander through these abandoned streets, with their glorious, fleeting street art gallery and pregnant, unsettling silence is well worth a moment of your time. But you’ll need to be quick.


Deserted: take a quick stroll up Torbay Street, before it goes

Within days, this tiny, yet remarkable blip on the timeline and history of this delapidated backwater will be flattened. The Hawley Arms will be marooned in a sea of rubble, only the pub, the railway arches and one wonky, listed villa spared from the levelling.

Condemned: formerly grand villas-turned-squats asbout to be razed
Condemned: formerly grand villas-turned-squats about to be razed

It’s easy to feel sentimental, and the previous demolition of the area’s heritage still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many, yet there’s no denying Hawley Wharf is in need of a slice of the regeneration spending spree going on across London.

The railway arches: vacated and decorated
The railway arches: vacated and decorated

Eight years ago, fire ravaged the parts of Camden Market that border the canal here. Since then the site has changed hands a couple of times, plans have been drawn up and rejected. Rumours circulate. Soon we will see how years of wrangling plays out.

OMG: those scooters have been warmed by their last noodle-guzzling tourist bottom
Rats, monsters and more

Should crumbling buildings like this be saved as part of regeneration projects, or are they worth the sacrifice?

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12 thoughts on “Abandoned Camden Market: stunning photos show the last days of Hawley Wharf”

  1. Have always walked past the houses and thought they were beautiful and that someone should renovate them. Can’t understand why anyone would want to demolish something with so much history and character. Will be sad to see them go and hope whatever replaces them is not too much of an eyesore.

  2. Having known the canalside market since the 60s, I am so sorry to see it go (incl. all the wonderful cosmopolitan food and crafts!)and I fear greatly a replacement by huge, square, snazzy, luxury-oriented, characterless structures and outlets.

    A sad time indeed – and an indication of the power of major wealth in the city – and the loss of character – alongside the seriously increasing poverty….a v. worrying sign of the times and the Govt. Wonderful artwork though.

  3. So is it 100% definate that these will be razed to the ground? So sad, great era’s of construction, such a shame to see this go if this really is the plan?

    1. Demolition starts this month, that’s why they’ve permitted the street art. The security fences have already gone up around the market so it’s only a matter of days…

  4. The house in Hawley Road is immortalised in the film ‘This Years Love’. (Kathy Burke, Dougray Scott)
    Which was filmed in and around Camden Town, market and Camley Street. If it was available on DVD we would have a snapshot of 90’s Camden life.

  5. Constantine Buhayer

    As a local, and like thousands of other locals, we have known that part of the canal from when there were, literarily, a handful of Sunday stalls on improvised tables.
    The Hawley Road houses with their neo-classical porticos, have stood out as living voices from another era when Camden was on the outskirts of London. They survived developers, the blitz, more developers. Then comes this administration, some token consultation(?) and smash.
    For local communities, the respect for memories and the continuity of domestic architectural references are a glue that give comfort and meaning to societies. Even though eventually people may come and go, we need for the sake of our sanity and our sense of belonging that continuity – especially when it concerns such unique housing!

  6. I’m 18 years old and have lived in camden nearly my whole life and as a local it’s sad to see this happening – it’s only across the road from me and i can see the changes being made every day.

  7. Dean The Camden Raider Cole

    Grew up in Camden Town and it will be devastating to see all the buildings and the market gone.
    These people do not give a crap about Camden and it’s legacy etc. Whoever is dealing with this project should be ashamed.
    I worked in Inverness street market with my dad in the early 80s and had my own fruit stall up until a few years ago. And look at that now.
    Hope your proud of yourselves.

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