The Camden Logo
Whether it’s on a letter through your front door or the street sign at the end of the road, you probably don’t pay much attention to Camden’s logo. Yet the logo is distinctive from other central London boroughs (such as Westminster, Islington or The City of London) because Camden doesn’t use a heraldic coat of arms.
The Camden logo is an oval shaped symbol with four pairs of clasped hands. Back in 1965 the London Borough of Camden was formed by a merger of three former boroughs Hampstead, Holborn and St Pancras, and thus required a new symbol. A coat of arms was formed by combining elements from the old, individual badges and adding an elephant which was taken from the arms of Marquess Camden (Camden Town is named after Earl Camden, father of the first Marquess Camden). Also added was the motto 'non sibi sed toti’ which is Latin for 'not for self but for all'.
However, it was felt by many that the heraldic coat of arms was not a functional and forward-looking image so the council also adopted the symbol of eight linked hands, designed by Messrs Main Wolff & Partners to suggest “voting, giving, receiving and unity”. This symbolised the structure and function of local government – helping each other through communal effort.
Initial feelings towards the new symbol were mixed. Geoffrey Finsberg, the forthright Tory councillor, did not like it: “It’s a monstrosity. We are proud of this borough but we can’t be proud of a symbol like this.” Madeleine du Mont agreed: “If this is the best our Camden artists can do, we’d be better off without one.” Yet theirs was a minority view. “It’s almost a replica of a Polynesian fertility symbol”, said Jack Cooper, and Labour’s Johnny St John, went further: “It reminded me of something from oriental mythology – Ying and Yang, the life force between man and woman.”