After nearly 40 years' continuous service on the town's commitees Harrow on the Hill historian Don Walters has finally retired from the Harrow Hill Trust, to concentrate on his writing.

Don was given a warm send-off at the Trust's recent AGM, and will now use his free time to concentrate on a number of new projects, primarily his latest book of local history.

The 79-year-old author, who has based two previous volumes upon the articles he used to pen for the Harrow Observer, is attempting something slightly different for his tenth piece of literature: a book he is calling 'An Outsider's History of Harrow School'.

Don, of London Road, was happy to speak about his latest project to me this week. "Over the centuries there have been many official histories of Harrow School but they have all been inside jobs, written from the viewpoint of the school itself.

"Mine however, will be the first to attempt to tell the establishment's 400-year story largely through the eyes of the town it calls home, and with which it has had something of a roller-coaster relationship.

"The school's founder John Lyon intended the school to be free and as we know that has not been the case for some years. There have been some interesting court cases over it.

"Over the years I have also built up a tremendous collection of photographs of the borough, and can say it must be among the best available anywhere, so the book will be lavishly illustrated.

"I'm aiming to have it out by the end of the year, but it remains very much a work in progress."

Don is also creating a follow-up to the successful Hill Tour podcast, which can currently be downloaded from Harrow Council's tourism web-site. This new audio-tour will concentrate exclusively on St Mary's, the 915-year-old parish church, for which he will continue to work through his committee membership of the Friends of St Mary's.

As well as writing the official Millenium History of the Borough, he has helped organise many events and projects, including a major photo survey of Harrow at the turn of the century, in which a large number of disposable cameras was distributed to local residents, visitors and school children.

Don said: "It was a nice idea that really worked. We gave the cameras to all sorts of people, the true value of the project will be apparent in a few more years time, as you can imagine."

The fascinating results of day-to-day life in the area, named The Hill at Century's End, were donated to the local history department of the Civic Centre museum and can still be seen upon request.

Over previous decades Don has also been responsible for dozens of hill walks and escorted tours that have embraced a variety of themes and routes. "The idea was to show people how many things were worthy of preservation in the borough. At our peak we were organising up to 16 walks every summer. On one occasion I guided 88 people around a route on the Hill."

In recent years however, he has been suffering from what he describes as 'dodgy knees' and has had to restrict his walks to quick tours of St Mary's and its churchyard.

Don is now turning many of his routes into illustrated lectures known as 'Armchair Walks', the latest of which he is giving to the Edgware branch of the National Trust next Wednesday.

Having been a fantastic servant to Harrow since it became a borough in 1954, he was deservedly one of the relatively few recipients of the borough's 50th Anniversary Achievement Awards.

He is especially proud of the citation, which refers to the high esteem and sincere appreciation of the council and people of the Borough for generous and unstinting public service. Don added: "That was a particularly touching moment." ..