Speaker meeting 1st June 2015

The members of the Rotary Club of Church Wilne were treated to a fascinating and informative talk on Alfred Wainwright (AW) by its club member Andy Lord at the Royal Oak in Ockbrook on Monday 1st June.

Wainwright was both a writer and an artist and the talk was about the man and the many influences that helped him when writing the books "A pictorial guide to the Lakeland Fells"

AW was born in Blackburn on 17th January 1907 and although he did very well at school, first in nearly every subject, he had to leave at the age of 13 to help bring in money for the family.   He started work as an office boy in Blackburn Borough Engineer's Department earning 15 shillings a week (75p) and spent several years studying at night school, where he gained qualifications in accountancy at the age of 28.

In 1930 he saved up for a week's walking holiday in the Lake District and this marked the start of what he later described as his love affair with the Lake District.

He married Ruth Holden in 1931 with whom they had a son Peter.   In 1941 AW moved closer to the fells when he took up a job, with a pay cut, at the Borough Treasurer's office in Kendal and became Borough Treasurer in 1948 until he retired in 1967.   His first marriage to Ruth ended when she left him the weeks before he retired and they divorced. In 1970 he married Betty McNally who became his walking companion.

His first book was written in 1938 and was stored safely away and not discovered until 1986 when it was published.

In 1952 he decided to set up a plan to write 7 books with each taking 2 years to complete with the objective to write in hand written prose along with map diagrams and line drawings, and to complete just using public transport.

Andy showed the members many of the contents within the booklets and continued by saying all the handwritten script had been justified.

The first book was published privately by his friend Henry Marshall who took charge of publicity and administration.   The books were printed by Bateman and Hewitson Ltd, although the printing was done by Westmorland Gazette at a cost of £900 for a print run of 2,000. AW only had £35, so it was agreed to pay the printer as they were sold at a price of 12 shillings and sixpence (62.5p in new money) with a reprint of 1,000 produced in 1956. The second book was available in 1957

AW followed the Pictorial Guides in 1968 with the Pennine Way companion and in 1972 he devised the east-west Coast to Coast Walk. This 190 mile walk traverses the north of England from St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay.

The talk was completed with a video of Wainwright walking the Coast to Coast walk passing through the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors national parks.

The Club's vote of thanks was given by President Geoff Smith who said he had met this remarkable man and had also walked both the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast walk.


For more information on Rotary and our speaker evenings, please contact Rotarian John Astell at: rccw1220@gmail.com

18th May 2015


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