The archive of renowned Lakeland guidebook author Alfred Wainwright will be opened to the public after a successful bid by Cumbria County Council.
A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £184,200 enabled the council to bring the collection back to Wainwright’s adopted town of Kendal.
The archive contains annotated maps, notebooks, photographs and extensive slide collection, original pages, sketches and proofs of his books.
There is also a range of personal papers including correspondence with his late widow Betty Wainwright, letters from fans, and records relating to the animal rescue centre at Grayrigg, near Kendal, which he and Betty were patrons.
The total cost of the project is £207,000, including £135,000 to buy the collection from the Wainwright estate, with the additional £72,000 used for preservation costs and a programme of outreach work.
The project is also being supported with a grant and donation from Friends of the National Library and Frances Lincoln, publisher of the Wainwright guides.
The grant will be used not only to purchase the archive and to preserve and catalogue the papers and publish a catalogue online, but also to work with partners to develop a range of opportunities for audiences to learn about the life and work of Alfred Wainwright.
County Councillor Gary Strong, cabinet member for the archive service, said: “We’re over the moon. Anyone who knows and loves Cumbria, and more specifically the Lake District, will be familiar with Wainwright and with these world famous guide books.
“Wainwright and his books are a fundamental part of Cumbria’s culture and heritage and as such it is extremely important that records like these are retained and protected for future generations to enjoy.
“It’s a real bonus that their future is now secure in the county that really made Alfred Wainwright famous and we’re very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for its generous assistance.”
Sara Hilton, head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: “We at the Heritage Lottery Fund are delighted to be able to offer our support to Cumbria County Council so that they are able to secure this precious archive.
“Through his writings and sketches Alfred Wainwright was able to share his passion for the fells with many generations of visitors, inspiring many to follow in his footsteps across this beautiful landscape.
“With our support, Cumbria County Council will preserve this collection of personal papers, drawings, sketches, photographs so that they can be studied and enjoyed for many generations to come.”
The archive will be kept at the Cumbria Archive Centre in Kendal where it will be available for the public to research.
The archive service will also work with a variety of potential partners including the Kendal Museum, the Lake District Visitor Centre, Brewery Arts Centre, Mountain Heritage Trust, Wainwright Society, Wordsworth Trust, schools and a range of walking organisations, to develop a programme of activities for target audiences that include schoolchildren and their teachers, walkers and walking organisations and those living outside Cumbria.