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”
Wainwright was already concerned that his first two guides were out of date due to man-made changes in the landscape. He made it clear that he had no intention of revising them, so his guides were now at risk of being withdrawn in the future. The delay in publishing The Far Eastern Fells meant only a year’s gap between both guides. Book production costs were also increasing, which would eventually raise the retail price of the guides.
Apart from that, Wainwright loved his time in the central region. As enigmatic as he was, you could feel he started opening up a little and becoming more relaxed in his role as a guidebook author.
A First Edition is identified by:
- Steel blue case with round corners and silver blocking
- 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 drew in the crowds and far exceeded Book Two sales figures. The Southern Fells, published two years later, was the only guide that sold more copies.
As with the first two books, book three’s case would undergo significant changes throughout the 1970s. The round corners were discontinued, and with the limited supply of coloured rexine, the traditional blue we associate with this title didn’t last long. Its replacement was a bright yellow case, generally associated with book six.
The Gazette used a red textured rexine on one occasion. From the mid-1970s, the rexine colour changed to green, with just a few navy-blue impressions. I have only found this red 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 many styles. It felt like the guides enjoyed life and were 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. The guides adhered to a more formal look as the new decade approached.
The gold gilt had disappeared from the front of the cases by 1980. Five years later, the impression numbers were removed. The Central Fells had now passed its hundredth impression, a remarkable achievement. In the latter half of 1986, the guidebook price increased from £4.65 to £5.50. Many people removed the price sticker, making it more difficult to identify the date of a book without the retail price on the dust jacket.
At the end of the 1980s, The Westmorland Gazette transferred the book printing to Titus Wilson. The printing occurred within the Gazette’s premises for a few more years. Titus Wilson’s printing contract ran for four years between 1988 and 1991.
The General Printing and Book Publishing Manager, Andrew Nichol, retired in June 1992 at 60. He appointed Michael Joseph as the new publisher of the guidebooks. Michael Joseph was part of the Pearson empire, so it made sense. Andrew made all the necessary arrangements and transferred the publishing rights before retiring. He had given twenty-three years of service to the Gazette.
Michael Joseph’s 1992 launch books were printed at Titus Wilson in their Dixon Print premises on Burneside Road, Kendal. The printing then moved to Suffolk for the next ten years. It was a sad time for Kendal.
Michael Joseph ceased publishing the guides in January 2003, and Frances Lincoln became the new publisher by February. The guides could now return to their rightful home in Kendal. The new launch date was April 2003 and was a great success. The Central Fells guidebook was popular and reached its third impression within a year.
Frances Lincoln produced new guides and a Limited Edition Leather-Bound box set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Eastern Fells. The latest guides would see a return of the gold gilt on the front of the cases. Round corners were considered, but this was reserved for the Limited Edition Leather-Bound guides only due to the expense.
From left to right:
The Central Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition, Frances Lincoln 2005
The Central Fells – 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Leather-Bound, Frances Lincoln 2005
In June 2023, the 50th Anniversary Editions were made available as paperbacks for the first time. They are only available as a box set. See the Wainwright Box Set Collection for details.
Alongside the 50th Anniversary Editions, Chris Jesty worked hard on the revised guides. The Central Fells – Second Edition was published in 2006. Frances Lincoln didn’t stop there, and in 2009, a cloth-bound ten-guide box set was published. See The Eastern Fells post for more details.
From left to right:
The Central Fells – Second Edition, Frances Lincoln 2006
The Central Fells – Second Edition revised, Frances Lincoln 2007
The Central Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition ’enlarged type’ (low gsm paper), Frances Lincoln 2009
The Central Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition ’enlarged type’ (high gsm paper), Frances Lincoln 2009
Quarto bought Frances Lincoln in 2011; by 2014, some of the Second Editions were outdated. Clive Hutchby succeeded Chris Jesty in revising the guides for the foreseeable future. The Central Fells – Walkers Edition was published as a flexibound guide in 2016. Eventually, both Readers and Walkers Editions were printed as paperbacks.
From left to right:
The Central Fells – Readers Edition hardback, Frances Lincoln 2018
The Central Fells – Readers Edition paperback, Frances Lincoln 2021
The Central Fells – Walkers Edition flexibound, Frances Lincoln 2016
The Central Fells – Walkers Edition paperback, Frances Lincoln 2020