Photograph by Carey Marks
Paul Rendell started his venture into journalism with a little known typewritten newsletter in 1986. Very few copies now exist of The Dartmoor Wally News which was a precursor of what has now become essential Dartmoor reading. The Dartmoor Wally News ran to twelve issues and finally ended in August 1989. It was to be a two year wait until a sample issue of The Dartmoor Newsletter appeared in April 1991.The accompanying letter read, “It has been suggested that a Dartmoor Newsletter is needed to keep walkers informed of activities that are taking place on the moor”. Paul ends with, “The newsletter will contain up to two double sided A4 sheets, according to information available. It will be published every two months and a year’s subscription will cost £3 including postage. . . If there is no interest your money will be refunded in full.”
His A4 sheets lasted for twelve issues plus the one off Christmas Cracker. These he had produced at his home address in Plymouth, under the name of The Old Dartmoor Company. He even managed to get the late Lady Sayer to write a piece in issue number 3. Issue 13 was in A5 format, contained 22 pages and had a card cover. It was now printed professionally by High View of Gunnislake. I had introduced Paul to the printer a few months earlier. The covers up to issue 30 were now illustrated with line drawings either by Eric Spicer of Exeter or Paul himself. On its fifth anniversary (No 31) a colour photograph of Peek Hill replaced the drawings and from issue number 33 the cover changed to black and white photographs. The subscription was now £9 and each issue usually ran to 44 pages.
By 1997 people began to see a change in Paul – he met Pauline Greenwood who as well as the assistant editor of the magazine became his best friend and companion. They moved to Okehampton (where they still live happily). July/August 1998 (No 44) was in full colour – a format that remains to this day.
Issue 49 brought about a name change – The Dartmoor News. By now advertisers had much more confidence in the publication which had matured over the years to become an interesting and informative read – a ‘must-have’ for all Dartmoor aficionados. The magazine has not been without its critics and in 2002 Paul received complaints about his spelling and the need for a proof reader. Few people knew that Paul is dyslexic and had had no training in the difficult field of journalism, let alone producing the whole magazine and finding advertisers and so forth. Thankfully the response from the general readership in the next issue was overwhelming, even bringing forward volunteers to help. Paul wrote - “it is good to know how much you enjoy our efforts, warts and all”. What makes the Dartmoor News so good is the “warts and all”, the amateur approach is most refreshing in this all too slick world of ours. The snippets of news that he ferrets out are just amazing and who cares if he spells it wrongly – we know what he means.
After ten years Paul parted from his old printer and used GTi Ltd of Okehampton. He was now able to use full colour throughout the magazine. This was to be reflected in the subscription price which rose to £16. By now the Dartmoor News was being stocked by a few shops as well as being available on subscription. The format has remained very similar over the last few years but the content has made great strides and is now more polished. The 100th issue (in gold) appeared in January this year. The editorial says it all really – “When I started the Dartmoor Newsletter in 1991 I could see there was a need for such a publication but I did not expect it to run to 100 issues. I am just amazed how the magazine has developed and how many copies are now printed. It has come a long way and it has been hard work at times to meet the deadlines.”
Today the magazine is printed in Tavistock and continues to grow and even more news in there than before.