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Plea to turn hidden vaults of Camden Town into new arts space

Underground tunnels were designed by rail pioneer Robert Stephenson

06 March, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

The Winding Vaults

HIDDEN vaults near Camden Lock could become a new underground entertainment venue under plans revealed by a conservation group. Camden Railway Heritage Trust is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week by calling for the opening up of the industrial structures that lie under rail tracks from Primrose Hill through Camden Town.

Trust chairman Peter Darley, a civil engineer, told the New Journal that the work should coincide with proposals to redevelop Morrisons supermarket in Chalk Farm into a new complex of about 700 homes.

Peter Darley

Designed by railway engineer Robert Stephenson, they could house a heritage gallery, museum, concert hall and restaurant, Mr Darley said. Built in 1837 and known as the Winding Vaults, their use was short-lived as wealthy landowners nearby were unhappy about dirty locomotives carving a sooty trail through their new estates and squares.

Mr Darley said: “They are in great condition and with the redevelopment, it is all up for grabs as to what they are used for.”

The trust lobbied Network Rail to clear them – they had years of silt and water at their base – allowing access to check their overall shape. Network Rail has spent £1m clearing out debris but further work is needed for a comprehensive survey. Morrisons development partner, home-builder Barratt, has been approached by the trust to discuss what could open at the vaults.

“If they were restored they would make a quite breathtaking performance space,” Mr Darley said. “It could be a jewel in the crown of Camden Town.”

A spokesman for Barratt London confirmed the company had met the trust, adding: “We are looking closely at their proposals as we develop our plans.”

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