Camden Passage: The bright side of antique markets



Rating: 7/10

Address: Camden Passage Islington, Pierrepont Row Arcade, London N1 8ES

Tube: Angel (Northern Line)

Hours: Wednesday & Saturday: 10am – 5pm

(Some stalls close early based on crowds)

Price: Varies (£2 - £1,000’s)

Official Website

By Corinne Chang

Camden Passage provides a friendly and eye-opening tour of antiques, arts and vintage items. At antique markets like Portobello, everything is commercial. Camden Passage is the opposite.

For professional collectors, Camden Passage is past its peak, and there is only one remaining shop to find ‘expensive’ antiques. Nevertheless, if you’d like to witness the country’s past and current style in one place, Camden Passage is worthwhile.

Transformation of Camden Passage

At Camden Passage mall, antique shops are being pushed out by bigger chains. Recently, as many as 50-60wereclosed, making way for the fashion giant Jack Wills.

“There were three bosses here, each managing their own area. Now we are the only one left,” said Pat Seery, manager of the Camden Passage sites. He attributed the closing down of antique shops to increasing rents.

Walking along Camden Passage, you will now find more cafés, art and vintage shops rather than antique merchants. Located just inside zone 2, it was described by John Payton, author of the book From Camden Passage with Love, as the world’s leading antique centre in the 1960’s.

Many of the surviving antique shops have been attracting more ordinary customers than collectors or dealers.

Although the Passage is not as busy as it once was, you can still meet collectors wandering around.
“I come to see friends here, not for items. The market will close one day,” said Steven Hart, a collector for over 50 years. Many owners have been here for decades, and they are always available for a chat.

At Camden Passage you will enjoy the ambiance and customary sights of an antique market, without having the owners forcing you to buy anything.

“We never meant to be over-friendly or less pressing. Shop owners in busy markets have no time to be friendly. They have to keep an eye on things”, said Brenda Gardner, owner of an antique clock shop in Camden Passage.

Nevertheless, like any other antique market, no one will inform you whether an item is genuine or just a replica; some will even lie to you. But at the end of the day, it seems that ignorance will forever be bliss.

Check out more great photos from Camden Passage here.

To read more about Camden Passage, click here.