frequently asked questions (faq )

Q: Is this an official Ward Lock company web site?

A: No. The Red Guides website has not been developed by the Ward Lock publishers – rather we are simply collectors who wish our knowledge built up through interest in the Red Guides series to be made available to other collectors of the same guides.  The background information on the website about the history of the Ward Lock company has been included on this basis.

Q: Can you provide information about Ward Lock books other than Red Guides?

A:  Outside the field of travel guides (the Red Guides and the Baddeley’s Thorough Guides series), we have scant knowledge of the wide range of books that Ward Lock have published over the years.  Some examples have been included in the "about Ward Lock" page of the website.  We have also been known to collect contemporary UK travel guides other than Ward Lock, for example the Murray's, Black's and Darlington’s series, and the “Contour Road” series.  If we could help with a query, we would, but you would often find it more productive to direct queries elsewhere if they do not relate to Red Guides or Thorough Guides.

Q: I have a Red Guide but I can’t find the publication date?

A:  It is most likely to be at the foot of the first page of advertisements at the rear of the book.  Otherwise there is a page and a table on this website dedicated to dating your guide.  If it has no publication date, it is most likely late 1940s or early 1950s, but check other clues given under "dating clues".

Q: Do you buy and sell Red Guides via this web site?

A: No, although we are all collectors and enthusiasts who have contributed to the site for mutual interest.  We would therefore be interested to hear of any collection coming up for sale, and we occasionally sell on or exchange duplicate copies of books as older or higher quality copies are acquired,  usually either through direct contact or via eBay.

Q: Can you provide information about the value of my Red Guides?

A:  It is difficult to give general guidance on valuation, though we will consider putting something on the website when more information has been gathered.  Some of the titles are much rarer than others and were clearly published in lower volumes than the most popular ones like London and The Lake District.  The age and condition of the book is also very important, just as with other collectables.  We have tried to find out publication volumes from the printers and publishers but so far have very scant information. If you have a collection or individual guides that you wish to value, you might first look for similar copies in bookshops or on the web. eBay frequently has copies for sale of the main titles.  Or you can email us and we will try to help with our own experience of valuations.

Q: I am considering building up my collection of Red Guide travel guide books. How easy is it to collect the whole set?

A:   Many of the titles were printed in high volumes and are readily collectable (see the “finding guides ” section on this site).  You can quite easily collect dozens of different guides.  However, to collect a full set of titles is very difficult – there are too many rare titles that do not frequent the marketplace.  Indeed, we know of no-one yet with a full collection of listed titles.  It is conceivable that some of the early titles listed by Ward Lock were not actually printed, or at least not in any significant numbers. 

Some collectors specialise in collecting books of a specific period or cover type,  or for a specific region or town, of different editions and publication years – perhaps covering where they live or were born and raised.  This type of collecting can be equally as rewarding as collecting a diverse set of titles.

Q: How many different titles and annual editions are there?

A:   If you count all of the combinations of titles, editions and publication years that we know of,  there are over six thousand.  There are about 200 known titles , pre-1950.

Q: I have a pre-1950 Ward Lock North Wales travel guide which has a dust cover that is not featured in your dating guide. Why not?

A:  The book you describe is not one of Ward Lock's "red guides" series, but one of their parallel hard-backed Tourist Handbook series.  The range of titles in this latter series was more limited than the more common cloth-covered "red guides" series.  The series originally appeared to include only two UK areas (London and North Wales) apart from a number of Continental areas (Belgium, Holland, Norway, Rome and Switzerland).  North Wales was originally a single volume, but then became two separate volumes - Part I (North) and Part II (South).  However, further titles were then published - The English Lake District, South Devon and South Cornwall and the Complete Scotland.  All these were based on the original "Thorough Guides" series compiled by M J B Baddeley - hence Ward Lock calling these titles their " Baddeley's Guides".  The last of the Thorough Guides series was published in 1934, so my assumption is that the successor publications first appeared soon after this date.

The reason why there is not much information on the website about this series is that the site concentrates specifically on the "red guides" series.  There is, however, a brief mention of the Tourist Handbook series on the " About Red Guides " page, where the North Wales guide is mentioned in the 7th paragraph, and also on the “ Series Notes ” page.

Note: To get in touch, please send an email to: