Friday, 4 April 2008

Camden Lock, Chalk Farm, The Lock Tavern

The Lock Tavern, Chalk Farm Road

The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road

On Tuesday (1st April) and yesterday (3rd April) I was doing a lot more fieldwork in the Euston - Camden - Chalk Farm area for my Euston Arch artist's book / poetic text project, and I've been regularly dropping in to The Lock Tavern (formerly the Wellington Arms and the Railway Tavern) for a pint of Peroni after a lot of footslogging. A pity about the price of beer these days, but apart from that The Lock Tavern's a great pub with a fantastic music scene. Across the road is the Stables Market in the old railway goods depot - visually brilliant with all sorts of Punk - Goth - Lolita - Burlesque outfits. I took some photos with my old 35mm camera as my digital camera malfunctioned last week (also here at Chalk Farm while I was taking photos of the remaining early 19th century houses on Chalk Farm Road), and when I've had them processed I'll scan them and put some images on the blog.

Like everywhere, the greed of property owners and developers is wrecking the subtle fabric and texture of much of our towns and cities, and I fear this is happening at Camden Market as well. I was also aware of it around the Whitechapel Gallery yesterday evening, where I went to a talk by Jean Moorcroft-Wilson about her new biography of Isaac Rosenberg (see elsewhere in this blog for images of my developing Rosenberg project). Along the main roads in Whitechapel the old buildings are disappearing at a rapid rate, and the sense of place and community is being lost. Even Tracy Emin, who's bought an old weaver's house in Spitalfields, is complaining about the havoc being created by over-development. My Kings Cross and Thames books were both very much concerned with the human scale and visual and material texture of urban landscape (Rilke said that we find out about ourselves from things we create - our landscape), and if our recent inhuman creations are anything to go by, we have a hell of a problem!
Out of control? Where is local democracy? And even then, local authorities are conspiring with developers to privatise public spaces. Whole areas of city centres being sold off and effectively lost to the people at large. Public streets being turned into gated commercial communities, with private security guards. I hear that parts of Liverpool and London's Chinatown and Camberwell have suffered, or are suffering, in this way (see The Guardian last Saturday). Tom Paine would have had something to say about all this, I'm sure. What unholy deal has 'New Labour' done with the big money? Too late to reclaim the streets?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello, Peter. I found your blog on a genealogical search for information on the Railway Tavern. In 1866 a direct ancestor of mine -- Septimus Hoskins -- was mortally injured in a quarrel with the proprietor of that establishment. If you are interested in any details, you can email me at msgandco at yahoo dot com.
Matt in Eureka, California