The Central Fells

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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 Wainwright was already concerned that his first two guides were out of date due to man-made changes on the landscape. He made it clear that he had no intention of revising them, so his guides were now at risk of being withdrawn in the future.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Wainwright was already concerned that his first two guides were out of date due to man-made changes on the landscape. He made it clear that he had no intention of revising them, so his guides were now at risk of being withdrawn in the future.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.

Cumbria magazine May 1958.

A First Edition is identified by:

  1. Steel blue case with round corners and silver lettering
  2. 12/6 price on the dust jacket
  3. No impression number
  4. Book four listed as – in preparation
‘in preparation’ helps identify a First Edition.

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.

The Central FellsFirst Edition with a steel blue case and red lettering.

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.

Occasionally, some case types were in short supply and alternatives were used.
Seventy-fifth impressions with different case types.

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.

Case examples from the 1970s.

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. 

Case examples from the 1980s.
The Central Fells signed in the early 1980s.

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.

The original Westmorland Gazette/Titus Wilson printing contract.

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 publications from 1992.

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.

All three impressions of The Central Fells from Frances Lincoln’s 2003 launch.

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.

From left to right:
The Central Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition. Frances Lincoln 2005 (£11.99).
The Central Fells – 50th Anniversary Edition. Lincoln 2005 (£12.99).
The Central Fells – 50th Anniversary leather-bound. Frances lincoln 2005.
The 50th Anniversary Edition guides were printed in various locations around the world: Italy, Singapore, Thailand and China.
Frances Lincoln’s 2003 launch guides and the 50th Anniversary Edition guides from 2005. The sealed boxes were from Kendal and are now archived.

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.

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, 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.

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.
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10 Comments

  • Michael warren says:

    So very interesting I enjoy every aspect of this web site.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Michael. Apologies it took so long to get this post up. I had hoped to be on the Northern Fells book by now. The next Southern Fells post will be a big one.

  • Lynn Miller says:

    A very interesting and informative piece of work yet again! Can see why it takes so long to compile, thank you.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Lynn, it does take time. Not only that, I have to avoid repetition from previous books in the series. I try to reveal something new about the printing history with each post.

  • Stuart Heaton says:

    A very interesting and informative piece. I can see how collecting the various editions could become a life times work! Thank you for your dedication for these iconic works

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for your kind words Stuart. It’s been really tough sourcing the different books, but the results are worth it. I am still learning all the time.

  • Nell Tee says:

    Hi Chris, interesting to see the marbled red and black 75th impression.  I also have a 75th but it’s plain navy, so it appears that different colours were used for the same impression.  Is that a common occurrence? 🙂

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for the message Helen. Yes mixing cases happened occasionally, but not often. If they ran out of material, they would use another. The marbled red and black is a very rare case type, and not easy to find.

  • Derek Thomas says:

    I’m sure I should know this, but how do the Walker’s editions differ from the Reader’s?

    • Chris says:

      Hi Derek, good question. The Walkers Edition guides are the latest revisions. The revised guides run parallel to Wainwright’s original guides which are now called Readers Editions. I hope this helps.

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