He led us to the back of the rehearsal room behind the jukebox, through the drapes that served as sound-baffling, and down a gentle ramp to a huge, ancient door. (…)
Unknown to us, this warren of cold menacing passages and tunnels hadn’t known warmth or light for almost 100 years. Back then, they had echoed to the sound of an altogether different horror. ‘The Camden Catacombs,’ as they have become known today, were once owned by British Railways. They were constructed in the 19th Century as stables for horses and pit ponies that were used to shunt railway wagons. The tunnels run under the Euston mainline, under the goods depot at Primrose Hill, beneath Gilbey’s Bonded Warehouse on the Regents Canal and under Camden Lock Market. Their route can be discerned by the distinctive cast-iron grilles set at fixed distances into the road surface; originally the only source of light for the poor over-worked horses living their wretched lives in the darkness below. (…)
It seems ironic that the Camden Town area has become so popular and trendy with it’s markets and expensive high street, mainly because of the presence of a punk rock band for so short a time when in fact, the entire railway yard complex was built and used daily over 100 years before. Now with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that our own temporary and ephemeral use of the warehouse was but a floating, vain appearance – a moment, a twinkling of an eye in the long history of those dark, disused warehouses. And now we too have become part of their past.