The Central Fells was published in May 1958 and was dedicated to:
“Those eager explorers of the fells THE DOGS OF LAKELAND willing workers and faithful friends, and an essential part of Lakeland life.”
With the delay in publishing The Far Eastern Fells, it meant there was only a year’s gap between both guides. Wainwright was already concerned that his first two guides were out of date due to man-made changes on the landscape. He made it clear that he had no intention of revising them, so his guides were now at risk of being withdrawn in the future. Book production costs were also increasing, which would eventually raise the retail price of the guides.
Wainwright was already concerned that his first two guides were out of date due to man-made changes on the landscape. He made it clear that he had no intention of revising them, so his guides were now at risk of being withdrawn in the future. Book production costs were also increasing, which would eventually raise the retail price of the guides.
Other than that, Wainwright loved his time in the central region. As enigmatic as he was, you could feel he was starting to open up a little and become more relaxed in his role as a guidebook author.
A First Edition is identified by:
- Steel blue case with round corners and silver lettering
- 12/6 price on the dust jacket
- No impression number
- Book four listed as – in preparation
The Central Fells was one of the biggest selling guides. This region certainly drew in the crowds and far exceeded the sale figures for book two.
As with the first two guides, the case on book three would go through some major changes throughout the 1970s. The round corners were quickly scrapped and with the limited supply of coloured rexine, the traditional blue we associate with this title didn’t last long. In its place we would see a bright yellow case, which is normally associated with book six.
By the mid-1970s, the rexine colour changed to green for the rest of the decade. A limited number of cases were navy blue, but for the most part remained green. On one occasion, a red leopard skin type rexine was used. I have only found this particular material on The Central Fells and The Northern Fells. I have yet to see it on any other guides.
The 1970s were great years for the guides. Throughout this period, they came in so many varied styles and colours. It felt as though the guides were really enjoying life and exciting to be with. They were out to have fun, and nobody was going to stop them. Sadly, all good things come to an end. By 1979, time was called at the bar, and the party was winding down. As the new decade approached, the guides adhered to a more formal look.
By 1980 the gold gilt disappeared from the front of the cases, which were now permanently green. Five years later the impression numbers were also removed. At this point, The Central Fells was in its one hundredth impression which was a remarkable achievement.
Towards the end of the 1980s The Westmorland Gazette transferred the book printing to Titus Wilson. The printing still took place within the Gazette’s premises for a couple more years. Titus Wilson’s printing contract ran for four years between 1988 and 1991. During my research I located the original contract, and it is now held within the archive.
Andrew Nichol, the manager of general printing and book publishing, retired in 1992 at the age of 60. He appointed Michael Joseph as the new publisher of the guidebooks. Michael Joseph was also part of the Pearson empire, so it made sense. He made all the necessary arrangements, and the publishing rights were transferred shortly before Andrew retired.
Michael Joseph’s 1992 launch books were printed at Titus Wilson in their Dixon Print premises on Burneside Road, Kendal. The printing was then moved to Suffolk for the next ten years. This was a sad time for Kendal.
In 2003, Michael Joseph ceased publication of the guides, and Frances Lincoln would become the new publishers. The guides returned to their rightful home in Kendal and were published in the spring of 2003. The books were an instant success. The Central Fells guidebook proved popular and reached its third impression within a year.
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Eastern Fells, Frances Lincoln produced new guides, and a limited-edition leather-bound box set. The new guides would see a return of the gold gilt on the front of the cases. Round corners were considered, but due to the expense it was limited to the leather-bound guides only.
The Kendal printed 50th Anniversary Edition guides are very rare, and only a few remain via this link.
Alongside the 50th Anniversary Edition guides, Chris Jesty was working hard on the revised guides. The Central Fells – Second Edition was published in 2006. Frances Lincoln didn’t stop there, and in 2009 a special cloth-bound ten guide box set was published. See The Eastern Fells post for more details.
Quarto bought Frances Lincoln in 2011, and by 2014, some of the second editions were now out of date. Clive Hutchby succeeded Chris Jesty in revising the guides for the foreseeable future. In 2016, The Central Fells – Walkers Edition by Clive Hutchby was published. The flexibound case material used for these guides would eventually be phased out and from 2020 the case material changed to paperback. The Central Fells – Readers Edition was published in 2018. The paperback version of this title will be available March 2021.Back to top of page