Discover Camden

London changes in a million imperceptible ways every day. All that remains after the flux are the stories – stories about the people, places and issues that define it. This project, steered by Beefeater and VICE, aims to capture those stories, profiling five London boroughs with five gifted photographers.

There’s an awful lot more to Camden than Camden Town. Though the borough’s outlines are less well known than the tourist-heavy strip of boozers and goth shops running from KOKO to the Roundhouse, it’s one of London’s most fascinating domains – a place that balances the chaos of Stables Market with the verdancy of Hampstead Heath, the opulence of Frognal Way with the grave of Karl Marx.

Stretched across Zones 1 to 3 on the tube map, it’s a borough where glaring economic inequality  rubs up against a history of profound tribal togetherness. Mods, punks, skins, New Romantics, ravers, indie kids, grungers – all have left their mark.

To get a firmer hold on what makes modern-day Camden tick, we teamed up with photographer Alex de Mora to meet some of the locals: designer and stylist Violetta Kassapi, soulful hip-hop MC Dozer Carter and Bertie Brandes and Char Roberts - best friends behind anarchic DIY magazine The Mushpit.

Oakshott Court

One of the least heralded of the low-rise, high-density social housing blocks built by Sydney Cook’s “Camden Crew” in the 1960s and 70s, Oakshott Court sits between Euston and St Pancras stations. Its principal designer was the Hungarian Peter Tábori, who perhaps wouldn’t have foreseen the local area's recent transformation from forbidding industrial wasteland into bourgeois dinner and retail zone.

Places Nearby:

  • The Pack & Carriage (Pub)
  • Drake & Morgan (Bar)
  • Doric Arch (Pub)
  • Bree Louise (Pub)
  • The Union (Bar)


There aren’t many places that have hosted both Charlie Chaplin and The Klaxons. Set south of Camden Town’s hectic main drag, KOKO has been open in various incarnations since Boxing Day 1900 and has spent the last 50 years or so defining pop cultural eras: punk, ska, New Romantic, Britpop and whatever that thing The Libertines were in charge of have all enjoyed seminal moments at the venue.

Places Nearby:

  • Simmons Bar (Bar)
  • B.Y.O.C. (Bar)
  • Belushi's (Bar)
  • The Blues Kitchen (Restaurant)
  • Jazz Café (Venue)

Alexandra Road Estate

The Sweeney. Spooks. Silent Witness. Prime Suspect. The J Hus video for “Calling Me”. It must be demoralising to be a Brutalist architect now, looking back at the grand utopian plans you had in the 1960s, and realise that every time your estate has been used as a film set, it’s wound up in a film about crime. This estate was another by Sydney Cook’s Camden Crew. It was also in 28 Days Later.

Places Nearby:

  • The Clifton (Pub)
  • The Queens Arms (Pub)
  • Priory Tavern (Pub)
  • The Elgin (Pub)
  • Smith's Bar and Grill

Swiss Cottage Library

One of the architects who helped rebuild the UK after the destruction wrought by the Luftwaffe in WWII, Sir Basil Spence was the man behind Swiss Cottage Library, which opened to the public in 1964. Its imposing panelled facade is part of a complex that also includes Hampstead Theatre and a local leisure centre. There’s also a McDonald’s within walking distance if you get hungry.

Places Nearby:

  • Ye Olde Swiss Cottage (Pub)
  • The House Bar (Bar)
  • The Arches Wine Bar & Restaurant
  • The Gallery (Bar)
  • The North Star (Pub)

Civil Aviation Authority

The Civil Aviation Authority make sure that everyone involved in flying planes in Britain is regulated. Far more interesting is the building their offices are housed in down at Camden’s southern border, near the Thames. The eight-storey, Grade II-listed cylinder has a weird honeycomb facade and used to be called “the Space House”. It is arguably the most 1960s building imaginable.

Places Nearby:

  • George IV (Pub)
  • The White Hart (Pub)
  • Scarfes Bar (Bar)
  • Holborn Grind (Bar)
  • The Princess Louise (Pub)

The Black Cat Factory

Ancient Egypt hasn’t had a huge impact on London architecture, but when the designers of this building by Mornington Crescent tube went for it, they went in hard, adorning it in cat statues, covering the pavements outside in sand and racing chariots on Hampstead Road. Vengeful Modernists stripped it of its character in the 60s before it was restored to its former, Tutankhamen-inspired glory in 1996.

Places Nearby:

  • Escape Sports Bar (Bar)
  • El Parador (Restaurant)
  • The Edinboro Castle (Pub)
  • The Lyttelton Arms (Pub)
  • The Sheephaven Bay

Brunswick Centre

The Modernist designers who ruled 1960s Camden had an insatiable lust for ziggurats and nowhere is that more obvious than at the Brunswick Centre, a place for people to live, shop, eat and watch films in Bloomsbury. Local residents, perhaps tired of town planners’ attempts to turn their borough into a concrete Mesopotamia, hated the building at first, but today it’s held in far warmer regard.

Places Nearby:

  • New Bloomsbury Set (Bar)
  • Lord John Russell (Pub)
  • Bar Pepito (Bar)
  • Megaro Bar (Bar)
  • The Marquis Cornwallis (Pub)

Roundhouse Camden

The Roundhouse spent the first decade of its existence spinning trains round on a massive turntable, but then someone figured out how to make trains go in reverse. Eras of on-off use ensued. Since a multi-million pound relaunch in 2006, its main room holds up to 3,300 people. The Roundhouse Trust helps thousands of young people hone their film, music and media skills in studios on-site.

Places Nearby:

  • The Enterprise (Bar)
  • Joe's (Bar)
  • The Monarch (Pub)
  • Proud Camden (Bar)
  • The Lansdowne (Bar)

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