camden catacombs

The Camden catacombs are a long-forgotten network of tunnels and vaults that exist
under Camden Lock and the markets
(photographs by Nick Catford)

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Camden origins
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Camden catacombs
the camden catacombs

Deep beneath the streets of Camden lies a secret unknown to the hoardes of visitors and market traders up above - a long-forgotten labyrinth of tunnels and vaults that bear witness to the area's colourful Victorian industrial past.

Entrance to the labyrinth
Entrance to the labyrinth

The underground maze weaves its way under the markets and has become known as the Camden Catacombs.They were built in the 19th Century as stables for horses and pit ponies that were used to shunt railway wagons.

Horse tunnel under Camden's markets
Horse tunnel under Camden's markets

The complex is now owned by Railtrack and the only access now is a tunnel entrance alongside the main line. No-one is now allowed access because of the danger of flooding as the tunnels are linked to a huge canal basin, linking the old railway with the canal system.

Underground canal basin
Underground canal basin

The tunnels run under the Euston mainline, under the goods depot at Primrose Hill, beneath Gilbeys Bonded Warehouse on the Regents Canal (now part of Stables Market) and under Camden Lock Market. Their route can be traced from the distinctive cast-iron grilles set at regular intervals into the road surface; originally the only source of light for the horses below.

Another horse tunnel
Another horse tunnel

The network of tunnels also includes an underground canal basin and this is clearly visible from the canal just outside Camden Lock Market, close to Camden Lock itself, where the towpath is carried across it on a bridge. The tunnels also gave access to the basements of a number of Victorian Warehouses but most of these and sections of the tunnel network were lost during a major redevelopment of the area in the 1980's.

Old warehouse basement

The pictures on this page are reproduced with the kind permission of photographer Nick Catford of the website Subterranea Britannica. You can see more of the pictures (and in a larger format) and those of many other underground sites by clicking here

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