The Redevelopment of Suffolk Wharf

Suffolk Wharf, the area between Camden Lock and Jamestown Road, lay derelict after Camden Housing Trust failed to develop it in 1990. In 1998 new plans have been submitted by architects CZWG.

Jamestown Road will be transformed. On the left (west) will be a glass-faced, 132 bedroom hotel; on the east an office/light-industrial building; and restaurant/bar space along the canal. At present Jamestown Road is a nondescript back alley. With Arlington House and the new Camden Pavilions on one side, and the new entrance road curving away in both directions, there will be a clear view to the Diagonal Bridge. Jamestown Road will become visually part of the Lock, with a pedestrian pathway lined with cafes, to draw people to the towpath.

In the High Street will be multi-floor shops. At the canal end, the ground floor level will curve back from the existing building line to give easier access to the towpath. This entrance will be paved with blue engineering stable block pavings to mark the transition from the new glass building to the old industrial canal landscape.

The castellated lock-keeper’s cottage, listed grade II, is the oldest canal building at Camden Lock. Today it may appear to have been a folly, built two hundred years ago by some dilettante who wanted to create an elegant entrance to Regent’s Park, but it was once a very practical building. A lock keeper recorded the passage of each craft through the lock and charged tolls on the goods carried. Soon it was hemmed in by industrial buildings and later, with the collapse of canal traffic, was abandoned.

The lock keeper’s cottage will become a British Waterways information office, with public access from both sides and a small garden. The canal ends of the new building are shaped as a curving ziggurat, stepping back floor after floor. This arrangement will allow light and air to reach the cottage and a widened quay side as it has not done for a century and a half.

View South towards Jamestown Road
Architects CZWG, 17 Bowling Green Lane, London EC1R OBD

View from Hampstead Road Bridge

View from Camden Lock

2011 Update

In 1995 Camden Council sold off their old recycling depot at Suffolk Wharf for £2.5 million. Three years later Piers Gough submitted plans for a three-storey complex of restaurants, shops and offices, behind and enclosing the old lockkeeper’s cottage. In 1820, when the canal was first completed, this cottage was the only building on the canal at Camden Town, standing by the side of Hampstead Road Bridge, to check the barges through.

The immediate call was to preserve the cottage as an information centre instead of using it as a restaurant and to preserve too the wharf-side atmosphere, which ‘persists here more strongly than anywhere else in the neighbourhood’. It was said too that the proposed building was too high and would cast shadows too far across the lock. However, the floors seem to be stepped back, so that even at noon, with the sun coming from the south behind the building, this effect might be small.

What Happened to Site 4?

The Glass Building in
Jamestown Road