Camley and Tankerton, Our Sharp-Browed Siblings.

Camley and Tankerton, Our Sharp-Browed Siblings.

This week we welcome a duplet of statement frames, featuring our first narrow facial width hinges.

The sweeping cat eye, Camley, and its equally sharp sibling, Tankerton, take their names from Camley Street and Tankerton Street, two abruptly angular roads to the west of St Pancras’ gothic spires.

Once upon a time, many moons ago, what is now Camley Street fell within the boundaries of the ancient Forest of Middlesex, a ‘vast forest, its copses dense with foliage concealing wild animals - stags, does, boars, and wild bulls.’

Now dense with 80s industrial buildings and luxury apartment developments, the street still harbours a small nod to its once wild past in the form of the Camley Street Natural Park. Behind the cast iron gate that bears its name sits two acres of woodland, meadows and wetlands, all hiding in plain sight in the shadow of King’s Cross’ towering gas holders.

In the 18th century the area around Camley Street got its first taste of industrialisation with the arrival of the Regent’s Canal. When the Midland Railway arrived a century later, its fate as a coal-covered industrial zone seemed all but settled. We have the London Wildlife Trust to thank for its return to nature, after they took it on in 1984, slowly but surely coaxing the wildlife back to their central London home (minus the wild bulls, we believe).

Tankerton Street, on the other hand, is a diminutive residential spot, sandwiched between the expanse of Cromer Street and the slowly curving Argyle Walk. What it lacks in length it makes up for in history, documented as it is in Charles Booth’s poverty maps.

Halfway between the bustling King’s Cross and literary Bloomsbury, it started life as a part of the Lucas Estate, a run-down area that was coloured black on Booth’s map, the lowest classification, signifying residents were of the ‘lowest class. Vicious, semi-criminal.’

In 1893 the area was developed by the East End Dwellings Company, a philanthropic property company who started out developing housing in areas like Bethnal Green and Aldgate, before branching out into central London. Their aim was to ‘house the very poor while realising some profit’, encouraging their tenants to lead responsible and respectable lives, with a focus on religion.

Whatever they did worked, and when the street appeared in the final edition of Charles Booth’s map it had jumped up four classifications to purple: ‘Mixed. Some comfortable others poor.’ While not exactly a rave review, Booth’s notebooks record a mixture of residents, from prostitutes to ‘a great number’ of policemen inhabiting the buildings.

The East End Dwellings Company’s buildings still stand in Tankerton Street, marked by a plaque and featuring some rather pretty curving balconies. If you ask us, those ‘mixed’ Victorians had good taste. 

View Camley or Tankerton.

Images by Tian Khee Siong.