It was in 1974 that he finally came to national prominence in the folk-song world.
Walter’s cousin, a schoolteacher named Roger Dixon, used to hear Walter singing and playing the melodeon when, as a schoolboy, he would visit Walter’s parents. He subsequently gave him a tape-recorder and asked him to record some of the songs for him (some accounts say that Walter refused the gift, but subsequently bought a recorder himself). According to Walter it took him all winter to remember and record about twenty of them. A copy of this tape was then passed on to the revival singer Peter Bellamy, who had once been taught history by Roger, and Peter passed on Walter’s details to Bill Leader, who recorded and issued his first two seminal LP albums.
Walter was subsequently recorded extensively for a number of LPs on the Leader, Topic and Home Made Music labels and appeared in numerous folk-clubs and festivals including the one held at the Smithsonian Institute of Folklife in Washington, DC in 1976 as part of the US Bicentennial celebrations. The folklorist Mike Yates then began a project to record and document Walter’s repertoire of over 150 songs and these recordings from the late 1970s capture a beautiful, gentle singer at the height of his powers.