My Hampstead Garden Suburb: ‘It’s not a place where you get up to things,’ says ex-Oxford don

Angus Walker. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Angus Walker. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Archant

Angus Walker, 79, served as chairman of Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust between 2007 and 2013. The father-of-four is a former Oxford University don and Foreign Office official. He has lived in North Square, the Suburb, with his wife Annie since 1981.

What brought you to Hampstead Garden Suburb?

Fifty-five years ago I had a girlfriend who lived in North Square. It made such an impression on me that 30 years later I could think of nowhere better to live.

You have a day off to spend as you wish in the area; what would you get up to?

The Suburb is not, I suggest, a place in which you “get up to things”. Not a great deal of historical interest has taken place there since Princess Margaret planted a tree and the prize table at the Horticultural Society Annual Show collapsed under the weight of the winning marrow; given the right weather I would go and lie down on the Heath Extension and read a book.

What makes the Suburb a special place to live?

One of its most attractive features is the persistence of a sense of identity. Against all the odds presented by the fragmentation of modern social life there is a sense of community.

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Is there anything about the Suburb which you would like to see changed or improved?

Parts of the Suburb are neglected and the overgrowth of vegetation and trees has obscured the architecture and given some public spaces an unhappy appearance.

A film is set to be made about your life. Which actor would you choose to play you?

I have two appropriately experienced sons-in-law, Alexander Armstrong and Giles Coren, who might find it difficult to refuse; I have various holds over them.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

Apart from my parents, I have to confess to an unqualified and lifelong awe of the late Lord Bingham, of the Supreme Court and sometime Lord Chief Justice.

If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?

Son of Frederick William Walker 1892 – 1943.

Angus Walker was in conversation with Tim Lamden.