London History Bulletin – January 3

William Joyce – Lord Haw Haw – was hanged for treason on January 3, 1946. This London History Bulletin tells the tale.


London calling.

London Walks connecting.

London Walks here with your daily London fix.

Story time. History time.

He taunted Britain in radio broadcasts during the dark days of the war. The broadcasts were made on behalf of Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief. The intention was to demoralise this country. Didn’t work. Instead he became the butt of jokes in radio shows. The Brits nicknamed him Lord Haw Haw because of his plummy English tones.

They poked fun at him during the war. 

For good measure they hanged him after the war. Hanged him on this day, January 3rd, 1946. He was 39.

Lord Haw Haw was buried in unconsecrated ground at Wandsworth prison, where he was executed. 

The execution merited a short paragraph on page 2 of the Times and a short paragraph on page 3 of the Telegraph.

At the inquest the jury returned a verdict of Death by Judicial Hanging.

Lord Haw Haw’s name was William Joyce. He was a dual national. Irish and American. His crime: treason. How do you find a dual-national American-Irishman guilty of treason against a country he’s not a citizen of? Joyce had a British passport. That did the trick. Possession of that passport made him, the court was persuaded, British. Made him a traitor. Cost him his life.

Fifty years later there was a sequel. His daughter fought and won a two-year campaign against the Home Office to have her father’s remains exhumed and reburied in Galway where he grew up. 

You’ve been listening to the London History bulletin for January 3rd. 

Emanating from – home of London Walks, London’s signature walking tour company. London’s local, time-honoured, fiercely independent, family-owned, just-the-right-size walking tour company. And as long as we’re at it, London’s multi-award-winning walking tour company. Indeed, London’s only award-winning walking tour company.

And here’s the secret: London Walks is essentially run as a guides’ cooperative. 

That’s the key to everything. It’s the reason we’re able to attract and keep the best guides in London. You can get schlubbers to do this for £20 a walk. But you cannot get world-class guides – let alone accomplished professionals.

It’s not rocket science: you get what you pay for. And just as surely, you also get what you don’t pay for. 

Back in 1968 when we got started we quickly came to a fork in the road. We had to answer a searching question: Do we want to make the most money? Or do we want to be the best walking tour company in the world? You want to make the most money you go the schlubbers route. You want to be the best walking tour company in the world you do whatever you have to do to attract and keep the best guides in London – you want them guiding for you, not for somebody else. Bears repeating: the way we’re structured – a guides’ cooperative – is the key to the whole thing. It’s the reason for all those awards, it’s the reason people who know go with London Walks, it’s the reason we’ve got a big following, a lively, loyal, discerning following – quality attracts quality.

It’s the reason we’re able – uniquely – to front our walks with accomplished, in many cases distinguished professionals: barristers, doctors, geologists, museum curators, archaeologists, historians, criminal defence lawyers, Royal Shakespeare Company actors, a bevy of MVPs, Oscar winners (people who’ve won the Guide of the Year Award)… well, you get the idea. As that travel writer famously put it, “if this were a golf tournament, every name on the Leader Board would be a London Walks guide.”

And as we put it: London Walks Guides make the new familiar and the familiar new.

And on that agreeable note…come then, let us go forward together on some great London Walks. See ya tomorrow.

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