The Camden Stables Markets, located in Camden, London, is the largest of Camden's market spaces. The London & Birmingham Railway was London's first main line and represented the biggest civil engineering project attempted in the country at that time. In January 1837 a 25 acre plot was purchased from Lord Southhampton to construct the Camden Goods Depot. The site was chosen by engineer Robert Stephenson, because of the way in which it provided a link between the Regent Canal, constructed in the early 1800s and the London Docks.
The Camden Goods Depot, constructed to serve as a terminus for goods and traffic on the London & Birmingham Railway Line, was opened in 1839. The Camden Goods Depot bought industry and many jobs to the area. The London & Birmingham Railway required the use of horses to pull the barges and trains as well as transport goods by wagons, including passengers luggage, in the London area. Heavy duty work was done by Shire horses and Clydesdales.
Pickford & Co were the agents for the London & Birmingham Railway line. The Pickford Company is believed to have been founded in the 17th century by a Manchester family who began supplying quarry stones using pack horses. The pack horses would then return carrying goods and supplies. The company relocated to London in 1756. The company built stables in Camden near the railway line.
Victorian attitudes towards horses meant that they preferred them over machines due to their low cost to run and their flexibility. Initially one and one and a half storey buildings were constructed on the site, the trains and the horses working at the same level. Eventually with the increased traffic this became too dangerous and it was decided that the railway track would be raised and a viaduct with special horse passages was created. A network of stables, horse tunnels, tack rooms, saddle workshops and a horse hospital were constructed on the site. Further expansion took place in the 1880s. This construction involved additional levels being built all connected with ramps and bridges.
Towards the end of the 19th century there were approximately 250000 working horses in London and at its peak the Camden Good Depot was using 800 horses. The last shunting horse was removed from service in 1967.
It is said that the Camden Stable Markets are haunted by the apparition of a women dressed in Victorian clothing. There have been reports of the sounds of horses hooves galloping over the cobble stones.
The Camden Markets are one of my favourite places to shop. In the Stable Markets there are many shops selling interesting and unique wares.