A rare copy of the first edition of Cumbria magazine has been returned to the publisher's office from the other side of the world – on the eve of the magazine's seventieth anniversary.
Seventy year old magazine travels 10,500-miles to get 'home'
The example is in remarkably good condition considering that not only is it seventy years old but it has also made the 10,500-mile journey from Australia.
Editor John Manning said he was delighted when he heard from reader Jeff Stonehouse, in New South Wales, had found the issue while going through his late father's effects. No copies of the early volumes had been retained after Cumbria magazine was acquired by Dalesman Publishing in 1951 and relaunched as the "New Series".
Volume One, Issue One of the original series was subsequently returned to the Cumbria offices by Jeff, of Killabakh, NSW. He told Cumbria: "The magazine was among many book and papers that belonged to my father, Arthur Stonehouse. He passed away in 1995… I'm glad the magazine is of interest to you and I trust you can give it a good home.
The original first issue was released in March 1947.
"Arthur was born in Wood End, Warwickshire, in 1925 and joined the Royal Navy in 1943. After the war his ship, HMS Terrible – later renamed HMS Sydney – was transferred to the Australian Navy. He came to Australia with the ship, met my mother here, and returned to England a married man. During this time my sister and I were born, until my mother's homesickness returned us all to Australia.
"Dad left England reluctantly as he loved the country passionately. He cycled the length and breadth of the UK in his single days making great use of the YHA organisation – I still have his YHA card, with stamps in.
"I think his heart never left England. When my mother passed away in 1997, my sister and I took half of their ashes back to England and had them interred in my grandparents' grave in Hurley in Warwickshire."
John Manning, editor of the monthly dubbed "Lakeland's Favourite Magazine", said: "We're very grateful to Arthur for having looked after that special edition of the magazine for so long, and to Jeff for sending it home. It's fascinating to be able to see how Cumbria took shape all that time ago. It was twenty-pages in size and printed on crude paper stock; it might seem a far cry from the 100-page glossy, colour picture-packed title we produce today but essentially it's the same friendly, small-format magazine, with an impressive roll call of contributors that included mountaineer A. H. 'Harry' Griffin, landscape writer Jessica Lofthouse, and novelist Nicholas Size.
Printed despite paper rationing
"Launching so soon after the war, when paper rationing was still in effect, must have been a bold move but it thrived and I'm sure the first editor, Leslie Hewkin, would be delighted to know that his magazine is still going strong today."
Those early editions of Cumbria were published by the sub-regional Lakeland groups of the Youth Hostels Association. It was the first county magazine for the area – in fact it was not until local government reorganisation in 1974 that the name "Cumbria" was formally applied to the area that had previously encompassed Westmoreland, Cumberland and parts of Lancashire north of Morecambe Bay.
The anniversary edition of Cumbria magazine – which will include a reproduction of the first issue created from high resolution scans of Arthur Stonehouse's lovingly cared for original – will be published on February 23.
"Lakeland's Favourite Magazine"
Known as "Lakeland's Favourite Magazine", Cumbria was founded in 1947 by the sub-regional Lakeland groups of the Youth Hostels Association. It began life as a twenty-page bi-monthly – price 8d – with a mission "to help all … to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside". Among the famous names contributing to that first edition, dated March April 1947, were author Jessica Lofthouse, climber Harry Griffin, and historical novelist Nicholas Size.
In 1951 the magazine was acquired by Harry J. Scott 's small Dalesman publishing company, based in Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales. Harry passed the editor's cap to legendary Dales journalist W. R. "Bill" Mitchell, who fulfilled the roles of reporter, feature writer, sub-editor and even delivery boy for almost forty years, and was subsequently made an MBE for services to journalism in Yorkshire and Cumbria.
Bill maintained a close interest in both magazine and county long after his retirement in 1988. As one quarter of a group of friends known as the "Geriatric Blunderers", he became an ardent fell walker, following in the footsteps of his good friend Alfred Wainwright. The unpublished fell memoirs of fellow "Blunderer" and close friend Bob Swallow are currently being serialised in Cumbria. Though he passed away in 2015, Bill's work also continues to appear on the pages of Cumbria.
Find out more about the magazine here: www.cumbriamagazine.co.uk