THE bad and the wayward was the theme of our walk, so we were prepared to meet some of the more colourful characters from days gone by.

While Paddington has been home to world-renowned artists, authors, entertainers and musicians over the last few centuries, there is a much murkier side that we were about to uncover.

Leading us was taxi driver and blue badge guide Bryan Gorin, who has an expert knowledge of Paddington's back streets and what's really been going on behind closed doors.

Highwaymen, he told us, would sometimes have stopped off at Baynard's Watering Hole, now the Swan pub, in Bayswater Road - the very place that gives Bayswater its name.

"But," warned our guide, "While they were portrayed as dashing and heroic in adventures of Dick Turpin, they were horse thieves, womanisers, robbers and even murderers.

"They would come round and steal all your money and jew

ellery, then cut off your head."

Any who were caught would have been hung in public at the Tyburn, by Marble Arch, on the first Monday of the month, which was known as Gallows Day.

This later became known as Gala Day, and is now a cause for celebration.

Prostitutes were also common in the Paddington area, particularly along Sussex Gardens.

"But old symbols of prostitution have now become fashionable," said our guide.

"Tattoos along the lower back and chains around the ankles were symbols that the women were owned, but these are becoming more and more popular among young women today."

Prostitutes would have met their fate at the Tyburn gallows too, although many apparently begged the executioners for their dresses to be secured at the knee as a last sign of respect.

Perhaps a more wayward character who lived in Paddington was Hertha Ayrton, who welcomed suffragettes into her Norfolk Square home.

When they had been on hunger strike, she would feed and nourish them back to health.

Although equal voting rights now seem normal, her campaigning would have been seen as radical during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Many more dark and mysterious secrets of Paddington's past are revealed in the walk, which will be held again on September 9 and November 5.

To find out more about free walks taking place in Paddington throughout the rest of the year, e-mail see or call 020 3145 1200.

Walks are organised by the Paddington Waterside Partnership and Paddington BID.