Fellside Recordings was founded by Paul and Linda Adams in 1976. Paul, originally from Coventry, was a drummer and bass player who had played both Folk Music and Jazz; Linda, from Great Clifton (just outside Workington), was a guitarist and singer whose chosen genre was Folk Music. They teamed up as a duo and recorded three albums before deciding to start their own label. They married in 1974 and have two children both now grown up and musicians themselves.
Paul had some experience of sound recording and, recognising his limitations as a singer, decided that was an area he would like to explore. Their activities as a duo had brought them into contact with recording engineers such as Brian Horsfall (Traditional Sound Recordings), Alan Green (Folk Heritage), Bernard Whitty (Folksound), the legendary Bill Leader and label owner, Joe Stead. All gave considerable help and encouragement. Paul was seconded to the BBC and eventually spent five years in local radio in Cumbria.
For many years Fellside was a hobby with only Linda, whose background was in office work, running the administration side of it and working for it while the children grew up. Paul maintained what he calls his "proper" job as a Pastoral Head and Head of Business Studies in a local school. The Folk Music side of the business developed well and the label's reputation began to grow. Paul had nurtured and ambition to start a Jazz side to the company's activities and in 1984 the Jazz label, LAKE Records, was formed. Fellside mainly generates its own material, but LAKE does both reissues and its own material. The upward trajectory for the company continued and, eventually, something had to go and so both Paul and Linda took the plunge and went into Fellside full-time in 1996. Since its inception Fellside Recordings had been a partnership, but in 2000 it was incorporated and Fellside Recordings Ltd was born.
Fellside and LAKE have become two of the leading independent, specialist, labels in the UK with an excellent reputation for the quality of their products. Distribution via Proper Music Distribution has ensured a network of availability to rival any major label. Between them the two labels have received 12 Awards for Excellence from the Music Retailers Association; Fellside artists are regularly nominated for and have won BBC Folk Awards; LAKE has won three British Jazz Awards and Paul was nominated for a BBC Jazz Award. The only real change to the company came with the introduction of the Smallfolk label which was created to issue the music from the children's television programme, Bagpuss.
Fellside Recordings Ltd is still run solely by Paul and Linda Adams. Linda runs the administration side and Paul does most of the recording and mastering. Various people have assisted over the years notably Robert Hallard who has been involved since 2002, the two younger members of the Adams family, Richard and Susan and, since 2011, James Sibbit. The other person most closely associated with the label, and who has been working for it on a freelance basis since day one is designer, Mary Blood.
The future plans for the labels fall into the "more of the same" way of thinking. It's a successful formula and, at the moment, there's no need to change it. Being very close to the product and the market and being such a small organisation it is easy to re-assess and respond to market changes.