“My information mostly comes from MI5 files of the period”
This sitrep was filed by London Walks’ “intelligence gatherer” himself, the distinguished newsman Stewart Purvis CBE. Writing in the third person, Stewart says, “Thousands of pages of MI5 files are clogging up Stewart Purvis’s computer as he pursues a strange ambition; to work out how many KGB spies and helpers lived in the Borough of Hampstead between the 1930s and 1960s. So far, Stewart, a former Editor of ITN and Ofcom regulator, has found a dozen and he’s still counting. He’s even got all their names and addresses and has turned his research into an updated guided walk around the spy homes of NW3. The route is in chronological order so step by step and stop by stop he can reveal the previously untold story of the Hampstead connection between the Cambridge Spies, the Oxford Spies and the Atomic Spies. Eventually there will be a book but be among the first to hear the tale by joining one of the monthly walks.”
Action Now Sitrep
“New files from MI5 reveal even more about the KGB in NW3 so there’s a new route around spy homes.” Stewart Purvis CBE
Some broadcaster. Stewart Purvis was the eagle in the nest at Independent Television News. He was the Editor at ITN and ultimately the CEO. As an American friend who knows this country well and had read Stewart’s book put it to me, “you got Stewart Purvis to guide Hampstead Spies for London Walks! That’s like getting Dan Rather to guide Dealey Plaza.”
The video is a short extract from the recent BBC Four Storyville production Toffs, Queers & Traitors – The Extraordinary Life of Guy Burgess. Stewart Purvis – who created and guides the Spies of Hampstead walk – had a major role in the programme.
Short read: The KGB in NW3
In October 2022 the UK’s spy-catchers, the Security Service known as MI5, did a giant dump of previously secret files into the National Archives. It meant an early Christmas present for our own spy-catcher Stewart Purvis. There were hundreds more documents about the KGB agents and helpers he’s been tracking for a decade. So Stewart rushed out a Christmas special of his own: an updated ‘Hampstead Spies’ walk with a new route around more spy homes. Those who’ve been on the walk before will find plenty that’s new and those who haven’t will be surprised to find that there were once so many KGB spies in Hampstead that some lived just a few doors apart. Stewart, a distinguished UK Newsman (former Editor and CEO of ITN), spy author and broadcaster worked out from MI5 files who lived where during the 30s,40s and 50s and the links between them. The best-known was West Hampstead’s Kim Philby. Stewart’s new route reveals how the KGB plan to recruit him and the other ‘Cambridge Spies’ was born in Belsize Park Gardens but executed from Haverstock Hill. And how the KGB’s route to the West’s atomic secrets began in Lawn Road. And how MI5 raided a house in Parliament Hill and arrested the man who gave radar secrets to the Russians. The route ends with the story of the ‘Oxford Spies’ who lived in Well Walk. Along the way there are stops for the Hampstead writers who knew a thing or two about spies: John Le Carre, Ian Fleming and George Orwell. But the real thing is better than any spy thriller.
“For decades to come the spy world will continue to be the collective couch where the subconscious of each nation is confessed.” – Hampstead residentJohn le Carré
The walk is guided by Stewart Purvis co-author of Guy Burgess, The Spy Who Knew Everyone, which the New York Review of Books called “an excellent read”. Stewart and the walk were featured in a BBC TV spy documentary ‘Toffs, Queers and Traitors’ in November 2017.
Original version of the Long Read: There were once so many KGB spies in Hampstead that some lived just a few doors apart. Distinguished UK Newsman (former Editor and CEO of ITN), spy author and broadcaster Stewart Purvishas worked out from MI5 files who lived where during the Cold War and the links between them. The tour starts at BelsizePark tube station where one of the KGB’s top men in Britain notched up his first piece of espionage and it ends at a block of flats near Hampstead station where the same spy hid out while on the run from the police. In between ‘The Hampstead Spies’ takes you to the home of the KGB recruiter who first spotted the potential of Hampstead boy Kim Philby and also the home of his KGB minder. You’ll stop outside the home of a whole family of spies who between them recruited the Atomic Spy Klaus Fuchs. Then come the Hampstead folk who knew and sometimes suspected the spies: George Orwell, Ian Fleming and John le Carre.
“For decades to come the spy world will continue to be the collective couch where the subconscious of each nation is confessed.” – Hampstead residentJohn le Carre
Even Brad Pitt gets a walk-on part from a spy movie he made in Hampstead. But the real thing is better than any spy thriller. The walk is guided by Stewart Purvis co-author of Guy Burgess, The Spy Who Knew Everyone, which the New York Review of Books called “an excellent read”. Stewart and the walk were featured in a BBC TV spy documentary ‘Toffs, Queers and Traitors’ in November 2017.
THE SPIES OF HAMPSTEAD – THE PRACTICALS
The Spies of Hampstead takes place at 10.30 am on the following Sunday mornings: February 18th, March 16th, April 21st, and May 18th. TBC…
To go on the walk meet Stewart just outside the exit of Belsize Park Tube
If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, The Hampstead Spies – the KGB in NW3 it can always be booked as a private tour. If you go private you can have the The Hampstead Spies – the KGB in NW3 walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they’re good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.
GIVE THE GIFT OF LONDON WALKS
A private London Walk makes a fab gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.