Camden History Society was founded in 1970 soon after Camden was formed by the amalgamation of the three former boroughs of Hampstead, Holborn, and St Pancras and needed some form of record of its heritage.
John Richardson was a councillor in 1970 and he teamed up with the local librarians to organise local history study days and research projects. He has edited the newsletter since that time, aided by his extensive collection of postcard views of the borough. The research projects provided material for the Society’s annual journal, the Camden History Review.
Monthly meetings are held (in normal times) at different places in the borough and an annual outing is organised to places in the Home Counties with Camden connections. Apart from the outing all these benefits are free to members.
With such a varied borough, the Society has members with a variety of skills: we have had editors and book designers who have converted the members’ research into Review articles and separately published books which sell well at local bookshops and are available through the website.
Many of our books and Reviews have won prizes at London local history events. Street guides to the whole borough have been produced and are kept up to date to cover redevelopments (such as the St Pancras and Kings Cross Railway lands).
One of these guides is The Streets of Fitzrovia which in a series of five walks gives an overview of the Camden side of the district and its history. It is just one of a dozen books describing Camden’s places and people.
More detailed research on particular people and areas has generated many other books, most of which are still in print and can be found purchased from our publications page. We even have an online, searchable archive of every newsletter going back to 1970.
All this research needs documentary sources and here the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre upstairs at the Theobalds Road Library is invaluable. It holds a fantastic collection of material (often rescued from town hall skips when departments are re-organised!) and the staff are both helpful and knowledgeable. When they eventually re-open you might find a visit to CLSAC useful for your own interests.
So if you want to find fellow enthusiasts for local history or just want stories about your area a hundred or so years ago — how did Fitzrovia get its name? for example — you might like to join. Meetings are open to non-members (for a small donation) so you can taste before committing yourself.
I found out about the Society when looking over a house for sale in 1975. I joined the research group studying the local streets and took over its leadership when the current leader became unwell. That got me on the Committee in which I have held a variety of posts.
These days I deal with the sale of publications and distribution of the newsletters. The team finds delivering them by bicycle around the borough keeps us up-to-date with the latest developments.
Camden History Society. Memberships costs £15 per year and includes free entry to talks, six newsletters per year, a copy of the Camden History Review, and an invitation to join the Society’s annual ticketed day trip to a place of historic interest.
Roger Cline is publications secretary of Camden History Society.