The Far Eastern Fells

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The Far Eastern Fells was published in May 1957 and was dedicated to:

“The memory of THE MEN WHO BUILT THE STONE WALLS, which have endured the storms of centuries and remain to this day as monuments to enterprise, perseverance and hard work”

Even before The Eastern Fells was published, Wainwright began work on the next book in the series. It was completed by September 1956, but wasn’t published until April 1957, priced 12s 6d. During this time, Wainwright’s original £900 debt to Bateman & Hewitson was paid off. This was a huge relief to Wainwright, and he would now start to profit from the guides.

Book two was dedicated to the memory of “The men who built the stone walls.” It says the engravings were by the Westmorland Gazette, which was incorrect. No printer in Kendal had engraving facilities. All engravings were produced in Manchester until the 1970s when the Gazette invested in new technology and moved to a photographic process.

Cumbria magazine April 1957.

Unfortunately, The Far Eastern Fells guide wasn’t a big seller compared to the other guides. For example, The Western Fells was published nearly a decade later and still performed better. This is probably because walkers are more drawn to the central regions of the Lake District. This is a shame, because some of the best fell walks can be found in the far eastern areas. The outskirts of the Lakes and are generally overlooked, so if you want to escape the crowds, these are the places to go.

A First Edition is identified by:

  1. Light grey case with round corners and red blocking
  2. 12/6 price on the dust jacket
  3. No impression number
  4. Book three listed as – in preparation
in preparation helps identify a First Edition.

The Far Eastern Fells was one of the slowest selling guides during the Gazette years. This was probably down its geographical location on the fringe of the Lakes. There has always been a greater sense of solitude when exploring this district. Most visitors gravitate towards the central fells.

After several impressions, the red lettering on the case would be replaced with gold gilt to match the other guides in the series. The early grey cases stain easily, and clean ones are hard to find.

The Far Eastern Fells with no Jacket
The Far Eastern Fells – First Edition with a grey case and red blocking.
The original 1957 spine blocking. Many were recycled, but some survived.

After many years, the guides would see their first price increase. In 1965, the Gazette price clipped their remaining stock of dust jackets and reprinted the new 15/- price in a different position on the jacket.

The Far Eastern Fells dust jacket price clipped by the Westmorland Gazette.

By the early 1970s the case corners were all squared to save on production costs. Like the other guides in the series, book two would lose its traditional grey case colour and we would now see a mixture of colour tones. By the mid 1970s with Wainwright’s permission, all case colours, for the most part, were changed to dark green. The case material would vary occasionally, depending on material availability. The case is one way of identifying when the guides were printed, to within a couple of years.

A master binding copy from the 1970s. This was used in the Westmorland Gazette‘s bindery department to ensure the sections were collated in the correct order.
Case examples from the 1970s.

In the late 1970s, The Gazette invested in modern Offset Litho printing technology, and could now produce their own negatives for all new titles. By 1980, the red lettering was removed from the front of the cases. 1985 would be the final year an impression number would adorn the guides, as they were no longer required. All these changes helped to keep production costs down. The last guides produced with impression numbers retailed at £4.65.

The Far Eastern Fells signed in the early 1980s.

From 1986 onwards the guides became a little more difficult to date. The price and case types are the only two methods of dating them. In 1988, Titus Wilson printed the guides for the Gazette for the final four years. This didn’t make things any easier, as the case material changed very little during that period.

Case examples from the 1980s.

With the passing of Wainwright in 1991, the publishing rights were transferred to Michael Joseph, and they launched new guides in 1992. They remained as publisher until 2003. The first impressions were produced in Kendal by Titus Wilson. All consecutive impressions were printed at Clays Ltd, Bungay. During the late 1990s the print quality slowly deteriorated. The reason why is unknown. Maybe the worn printing plates weren’t replaced, or the negatives were damaged. Fortunately the guides were about to get a new lease of life.

The Far Eastern Fells Dust Jacket Bromide
A Michael Joseph publication, and the dust jacket bromide from 1992.

In January 2003, Michael Joseph announced that they would cease printing of the guides. This was probably due to declining sales. Cumbrian John Nicoll, managing director of Frances Lincoln Publishers, took over the publication of the guides and brought them back to Kendal.

The news sent shockwaves through the walking fraternity. Mrs Wainwright said: “It is wonderful that the printing is coming back to Kendal. I am sure it is what AW would have wanted.” Titus Wilson used the film of Wainwright’s original distinctive hand-written text and line drawings, which they retained when they originally lost the contract in 1991. Frances Lincoln launched the new titles in April 2003.

Frances Lincoln’s 2003 publication isn’t too dissimilar to Michael Joseph’s in appearance.

After a gap of ten years, the books were once again being printed in their hometown of Kendal. The 50th Anniversary of The Eastern Fells publication was looming, and to mark this occasion, the original pages were scanned, and new printing positives were produced. The new guides launched in March 2005 and were well received. A limited-edition leather-bound box set was also produced.

The Far Eastern Fells 50th Anniversary
The 50th Anniversary Edition guides would see the return of the red lettering on front of The Far Eastern Fells cases.
The 50th Anniversary Leather-bound guide featured gold gilt on the front instead of red lettering.
The 50th Anniversary Edition guides were printed in various locations around the world: Italy, Singapore, Thailand and China.

The original guides, although a work of art, were now outdated. Second editions would now be produced and would run alongside the originals. Chris Jesty was chosen for the job, and spent years revising all twelve guides. The Far Eastern Fells – Second Edition was published in June 2005. For some unknown reason, the red lettering was omitted from the front of the case, on just this title. It returned on a later printing.

The book was also published with a jacket almost identical to the original guide. These were quickly scrapped and replaced with photographed jackets. Alongside the second editions, a special cloth-bound ten guide box set was published in January 2009.

The Far Eastern Fells – Second Edition. The first printing of this title did not feature red lettering on the case.

From left to right:
The Far Eastern Fells – Second Edition original Jacket. Frances lincoln 2005.
The Far Eastern Fells – Second Edition Photo Jacket. Frances Lincoln 2005.
The Far Eastern Fells – Second Edition revised. Frances Lincoln 2007.
The Far Eastern Fells50th Anniversary Edition ‘enlarged type’ (low gsm paper). Frances Lincoln 2009.
The Far Eastern Fells50th Anniversary Edition ‘enlarged type’ (high gsm paper). Frances Lincoln 2009.

In 2011, Quarto bought Frances Lincoln for £4.5m, and three years later it was decided that the second edition guides were out of date and new revisions were required urgently. This time Clive Hutchby was chosen to take on the job, which would take him seven years. In 2015, The Far Eastern Fells – Walkers Edition, was published in the new flexibound format. The following year, The Far Eastern Fells – Readers Edition was also published. Both formats are now out of print, and in October 2020, the Walkers Editions cases changed to laminated paperbacks. The Readers Editions (original guides) would also adopt this new paperback format for the first time since 1955. Both paperbacks retail at £14.99.

From left to right:
The Far Eastern Fells – Readers Edition hardback. Frances Lincoln 2016.
The Far Eastern Fells – Readers Edition paperback. Frances Lincoln 2020.
The Far Eastern Fells – Walkers Edition flexibound. Frances Lincoln 2015.
The Far Eastern Fells – Walkers Edition paperback. Frances Lincoln 2020.
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