Once upon a time this ancient stretch was a village in itself; but by the mid-20th century it had graduated to one of the busiest street markets in London – where pretty much anything (and no doubt anyone) could be bought.
Chalton – originally spelt Charlton, but somewhere losing an ‘r’ along the way – has always been a cosmopolitan kind of place. Its once-dominant French community led to the opening of the Somers Town Coffee House, a Parisian-style café which offered a tea garden and skittle ground. The original building stood further south, however, with the present one dating to just 1927.The leafy street has boasted its fair share of eccentric residents over the centuries, such as the physician Dr Squirrell, whose Maxims of Health essay (1798) can be found in the Wellcome Collection across Euston Road.
And at No.57 (now Jessim’s Barber Shop) – with its banded brickwork and mosaic panels above tall first-floor windows – was the original Somers Town Academy for Young Gentlemen, a sort of finishing college for boys to be schooled in the classics and mathematics.Fast forward to 2017 and Chalton Street Market now opens three times a week selling fruit and veg, soft furnishings, rugs and clothing, with a varying range of pop-up stalls too.
Recommended is the crepe stall from New Horizon, which provides work experience for young people: a savoury (cheese, tomato, mushrooms) or sweet (jelly, banana, Nutella) option will set you back just two quid. Bargain.And now you can help secure the future of the street’s unique culture. The Somers Town Community Association have launched a crowdfunding campaign “to strengthen the market as intergenerational economic and social hub, and nurture local talent, supporting people to gain enterprise skills and trial business ideas.” The drive is for “increasing footfall and offering traders the very best chance of success”.