Page last updated at 04:17 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 05:17 UK

Camden market reopens after blaze

The Camden Market fire in February 2008
The fire started after a gas heater in a market stall was left on

London's Camden Canal Market has officially reopened more than a year after being gutted by a huge fire.

The blaze in February 2008 devastated the famous north London market and led to some of the 1840s buildings which housed the stalls being demolished.

Some areas reopened after two weeks but the Canal Market, part of Camden Lock Village, was particularly badly hit.

A £4m refurbishment leading to the reopening has added 150 more stalls to the 60 which traded before the fire.

More than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze which tore through the market and neighbouring buildings, including six shops and the Hawley Arms pub.

There was a fear that this bit of Camden would turn into a standard High Street when it was redeveloped, but thankfully we've managed to avoid that
Matthew McMillan
Camden Town Unlimited

The fire, which was started by a gas heater left on in one of the stalls, is estimated to have caused damage put at £30m.

Owners Camden Market Holdings said the new stalls sold out in just 10 hours with 3,000 businesses on a waiting list.

Project director Mark Alper said: "This is a really important area for small businesses and it's great that we can reopen to give the area a boost in what is a very difficult time for retail.

"Camden is really important as a place for people to start up in business.

"The re-launch gives our young artisans a great chance and I'd urge people to come and support them."

The area near the market in Chalk Farm Road, Camden
Some areas around the fire-hit market reopened within a fortnight

The market's area is a major tourist attraction, drawing as many as 300,000 visitors each weekend to its six open-air and indoor markets and bars, clubs, shops and restaurants.

There were fears many people would lose their jobs at the time of the fire but Mr Alper claims to have created more than 400 jobs during the refurbishment.

Traders affected by the fire, some of whom were uninsured, received a combined total of £750,000 in financial help.

The London Development Agency set up a £250,000 recovery fund and a £500,000 fund was created by Camden Market Holdings.

Matthew McMillan, deputy chief executive of Camden Town Unlimited, a coalition of local businesses, said: "There was a fear that this bit of Camden would turn into a standard High Street when it was redeveloped, but thankfully we've managed to avoid that."



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SEE ALSO
Camden to get post-fire makeover
13 Feb 09 |  London
Fire funds to help Camden traders
05 Mar 08 |  London
Camden traders count the cost
10 Feb 08 |  UK
Blaze shuts famous market area
10 Feb 08 |  UK

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