Camden, the hip northern London suburb, is not a place one would normally think of going to the beach. However, recently, after a fascinating tour along London’s canals, I found myself in Camden and, once the obligatory pilgrimage to Marine Ices had been accomplished, my attention was caught by large signs advertising '”Camden Beach” and its “150 tonnes of sand,” its deckchairs and beach huts, its candy floss and “American BBQ!”. How could I resist?
The Roundhouse in Camden was originally a fine brick railway building, containing – hence its shape - a turntable. It fell into disuse over seventy years ago and then was resurrected as a theatre and performance venue in the 1960s. Its modern incarnation sports a large outdoor terrace and it was onto this that the 150 tonnes of sand had been deposited to create the ‘ur-beach.’ A long queue (but free entry) spoke of its popularity and, once admitted, the sight on the terrace was truly extraordinary – and rather British, despite the attempts at tropical motifs. The weather was warmish but stormy (after the recent heatwave), yet crowds of folk disported themselves as if they were really by the seaside – disbelief was most definitely suspended, and all that was missing was a Punch and Judy show. Herewith, some illustrations – I was particularly enamoured of the concept of “Quick Beer.”