In 1985, the Westmorland Gazette bound their millionth Wainwright book. A publicity campaign was built around the sale of this book, which was book six, The North Western Fells. Wainwright agreed to sign the book in black ink at the back, under “Some personal notes in conclusion”. With the owner’s permission, if the book was located, it would be rebound in leather with gold lettering on the cover to identify it as the millionth copy. As a bonus, the owner was given a week’s free holiday at the Langdale Time-Share complex and a meal with Wainwright, where he would present the owner the No.1 Limited-Edition Silver-Plated table mats and coasters set.
In 1986, the signed book was shipped with an order to a store in Manchester. After a few weeks, Wainwright had a change of heart. He decided he didn’t want to eat with a stranger. The General Printing and Book Publishing Manager at the Gazette, Andrew Nichol, wasn’t happy, especially since the campaign had already gone public. But once Wainwright changed his mind, there was no going back. Andrew drove Wainwright to Manchester to retrieve the book. Wainwright sat in the car, expecting Andrew to go into the shop and buy it. Andrew refused, saying it would be in bad faith to anyone searching for the book. Wainwright went into the shop alone and searched through all copies of book six. He found the signed book and bought it from the unsuspecting shop owner.
On the return journey back to Kendal, Andrew told Wainwright that if it were just a meal with a stranger he was concerned about, he would change the terms and conditions of the prize and remove the meal. To which Wainwright agreed.
The book was once again back in the hands of the Gazette. It was sent out within a few days with another order, but this time to a popular retailer, Chaplin’s of Keswick. Here it would sell quickly.
A short time later, during one of Andrew’s regular meetings at Kendal Green, Wainwright turned to Andrew and said, “Remember when we went to Manchester to recover the one-millionth copy? I went into the shop and paid for it. You never gave me the money back.” Andrew rolled his eyes and gave a slight smirk. It was typical Wainwright.
Two weeks later, at Wainwright’s request, he and Andrew went to Keswick to check if the book was still there. Together they walked into the store and asked to see all copies of the book. The signed copy had gone. To this day, nobody has come forward with it. This refutes any suggestions that Wainwright took the book and destroyed it.
During the mid-1980s, there was a huge influx of foreign visitors to the Lake District, so there is a possibility it was taken out of the country. The owner wouldn’t realise the significance of this signature or even notice it.
There would be 1000 Limited-Edition Silver-Plated table mats and coaster sets, but they were too expensive to make. The Gazette had to pay for all manufacturing costs upfront. The first 100 sets were produced, and the rest would be made to order. Sadly, with the retail price being so high at £169, fewer than 100 sets were sold. No more were made.Back to top of page