Of secondary importance in the street pattern, Camden Mews is a long, straight lane which gradually slopes up the hillside in a north-easterly direction. The narrow roadway, which retains a sizeable number of granite setts, is skirted on either side by shallow pavements. A hard, urban feel is derived from the original light industrial environment. This is reinforced by the front building line that lies directly behind the pavement (whether buildings or boundary walls). The mews properties are of a definite small scale, following the historic pattern of development subservient to the taller townhouses in Camden Road and Camden Square. Predominantly two storeys, although some second-floor roof extensions and terraces exist. However, third storeys tend to be subservient, taking the form of mansard roofs or extensions substantially recessed back from front elevations.
From the 1840s there was a scattering of backland mews development on Camden Mews. New buildings were confined to stables and coach-houses on the north-west side of the street, serving Camden Road rather than Camden Square: By the 1870s, after the construction of the railway tunnels, development was occurring on the Camden Square side, but was most likely in the form of workshops rather than stables due to the reduced residential desirability of the square. By this time, a few new buildings had also appeared on the north-west side of the mews, south-west of Murray Street. Throughout.the late 19th century, development spread gradually. In the early 20th century, workshop buildings had been erected on the south-east side backing almost onto Camden Square. By the 1930s, there was steady infill development, particularly on the north-west side, indicating-extensive light industrial activity.
There are several 19th century and early 20th century buildings surviving. Some retain light industrial uses, particularly at the south-west end. Others have been converted to residential use. Examples include Nos. 30,57,65,69 and 99. The common building materials are London stock brick and slate. On the south-east side north-east of Cantelowes Road, No. 58 CH E Walker Bros'), is of interest as an early 20th century building. Of one storey, the front elevation is topped by a distinctive balustraded parapet in the classical tradition. There are also wide folding doors built for light industrial use (for many it was used as a car repair workshop; today it is an artist's studio and residence).
There are various notable examples of 20thcentury domestic architecture. On the south-east corner of Camden Mews and Murray Street, No. 2 Camden Mews is a one storey house dating from 1988-89, designed for the disabled by Tom Kay as an extension to No. 64 Camden Square. It is solid in nature, constructed from London stock brick with engineering brick dressings and a slate roof. On the opposite corner stands a detached gable-ended inter war building (No. 23 Murray Street), a former coach house with a distinct half-timber gable end incorporating a bay window.
No. 60; a distinctive design with high half round curved gable onto the street, is a house designed by architect John Winter for himself using a brick, glass and steel vocabulary, and granted planning permission in 1991.
The mews is most noted for No. 62 by Edward Cullinan, a self-build house for his family, of 1962-65, which Pevsner considered, 'An icon of its time' [Pevsner, p391] It is constructed from materials characteristic of the area: second-hand London stock brick walls, emulating the garden walls of the vicinity, topped by high-level timber windows and overhanging eaves, echoing Japanese architecture. The house presents its narrow side to the street. The forward front building line set an example for subsequent houses in the mews, from the mid-1960s; the design was only accepted after a planning battle regarding light angles. This house's architectural style set a strong local precedent.
Such an example is No. 66, the larger property on the Murray Street lCamden Mews corner was designed by Peter Bell With Rodger Davis in 1980 but not completed until 1985. It is an inward-iooking courtyard house, built in the former back garden of No. 1 Camden Square and with a longer frontage to Murray Street. The house comprises an exposed timber-frame construction, with low-key street elevations formed from second-hand stock bricks, again emulating the 19th century garden wa1ls (against the pavement), with high-level glazing for privacy and light.
Mention must be made of Abingdon Close, a late 1950s residential redevelopment following bomb damage on Camden Square and Camden Mews. The rear of the close backs onto the south-east side of the mews, between the line of the railway tunnels and Cantelowes Road. The rear elevations of a row of six two-storey link houses are visible from Camden Mews. The houses and their back gardens are situated behind a stock brick boundary wall complying with the established building line ofthe street. A series. of gable ends step down the sloping site. The houses are constructed from a pale brick, which blends with the vicinity, and their pitched roofs are covered in . concrete tiles. The fronts of the houses face an open space bound on the south-east side by-blocks of flats [see 'Camden Square']. This courtyard space boasts mature trees, lawns, walkways and an access road. Although this development, resembling new town housing, is a surprise in this location and out of keeping with the urban character of the Conservation Area, it respects the scale of the mews and is discreetly tucked away so as not to be detrimental to the wider area.
Notable Past Residents
- John Zachary Young, one of the most influential biologists of the 20th century lived at no. 15 Camden Mews from the 1960s to the 1980s.
- Thomas Heatherwick, designer, lived and worked in Camden Mews in the 1990s
- LB of Camden; Camden Square Conservation Area Statement, 2001