Time for another trip to Hampstead to meet the inhabitants of Waggoners’ Walk.
The daily series was first broadcast by BBC Radio 2 back in April 1969 as a replacement for long-running The Dales (formerly Mrs Dale’s Diary). Although meant to be a bit more hip and happening than its predecessor, the Radio Times for that week, went to great lengths to assure listeners that the new serial’s setting was familiarly suburban.
Far from being a vast impersonal spread of urbanisation the greater part of London is still divided into hundreds of separate communities which, despite the fact that they are so closely crowded by their neighbours, preserve an atmosphere which is as individual as that of a country village. Many of them indeed were villages-as some of the older buildings and the eccentric street plans testify so eloquently. Some have retained enough of their old character to have become tourist attractions in their own right. But the majority are not quite so picturesque, and their atmosphere is only appreciated by those who live there.
One of the latter is Waggoners’ Walk. (You won’t find it on any street map.) It’s small as communities go-really only the cul-de-sac which is the Walk itself, and one or two hundred yards in each direction along the road which crosses the entrance to the Walk, in an unplanned sort of way. Beyond these very strict limits-well, one is simply somewhere else, even if the street signs and postal authorities don’t cater for such subtle distinctions.
There have been a good many changes since the eighteenth century, when the sturdy man who gave the Walk its name used to pause on their journey uphill towards Hampstead to fresh their horses at the trough, and themselves at the inn-to which also they gave their name. The inn is now the oub, and has been modernised. Architects in the nineteenth and twentieth centutries have added variety to the Georgian terraces, each according to his own vision and resources. Social revolution has turned the biggest houses into small flats for the young and lowly paid, and the old mews cottages into luxury flats for the very wealthy. In these things, the Walk has much in common with its neighbours. Perhaps, after all, it is not the buildings but the people who live in them, that give an area its particular character.
The article’s writer Richard Imison goes on to describe the residents of the Walk:
As in most areas of this kind, the inhabitants are not all Londoners by birth. Many of them are really quite recent arrivals, coming from all parts of the country, for different reasons, to make their home near the centre of the city. This perhaps explains the attractive individuality of so small a community.
Perhaps it also explains why they find it difficult to give clear directions on how to get to the Walk itself. The new arrival may well lose himself on the way (even in the short walk from the station, for the roads are complicated) but once there he will soon find himself amongst friends.
In the same edition of the Radio Times producer Keith Williams introduces us to the characters that live in the flats in the corner house on Waggoners’ Walk.
In this initial scene from the first programme entitled Moving Pictures (very early episodes were given a title) you'll hear sisters Lynn Dixon (Judy Franklin) and Tracey Dixon (Rosalind Adams) along with their flatmate Barbara Watling (Heather Stoney).
So from the last couple of weeks of the series here are four more episodes of ‘Waggs’ together with the last ever episode previously posted by me in November 2010.