The Cumberland Pencil Museum, Keswick

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The Cumberland Pencil Museum (officially known as Derwent Pencil Museum now) is located in the village of Keswick, inside the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. Rich in graphite, Keswick and a lot of the surrounding regions have a long history of pencil making that goes back more than three centuries and there are still fully functioning factories in the region. In fact, it was in and around Keswick that the first proper pencils in the history of mankind were made, following the discovery of the graphite mines in Cumbria, near the late 16th Century. The museum itself is located right beside the Cumberland factory (now known by its brand name Derwent) and it hosts some of the most unique and historically significant pencils in the world.

Creative Commons Photo by Smabs Sputzer

Some of the Major Attractions of the Pencil Collection

The Half-a-Ton Coloured Pencil

The most famous of all the pencils in the museum is, of course, the 26-feet long coloured pencil that weighs roughly half a ton. It is a record holder for being the largest coloured pencil in the world. The combination of height and weight of the pencil stands as a true testament to the craftsmanship of the Cumberland pencil makers.

The Graphite Mine Entrance

All visitors enter the museum through a replica of the graphite mines that still supplies the pencil factories in the area to make all their products.

The Spy Pencils from World War 2

Back when World War II was in full flow, a famous British agent for military intelligence, Charles Fraser-Smith came to the Cumberland Pencil Co. in Keswick with an idea to help British prisoners of war escape from their cells. His idea was to use the pencilmaker’s expertise in developing a special kind of pencil that would have a secret compartment inside them to hide a map and a compass. His idea was brought into fruition by the company and the Cumberland Pencil Museum has them on display for visitors to marvel at.

There are also tiny pencil sculptures, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pencil, and many more special works of art from different eras over the centuries, on display at the Derwent Pencil Museum. Aside from looking at the displays, visitors can also buy supplies from the art shop and enjoy free Wi-Fi and hot coffee at the café inside.

Art Workshops

Art workshops at the museum are quite common throughout the year, for both children and adults. If someone wishes to attend one of the workshop events, visit the Derwent Pencil Museum Facebook page to check the up-to-date event schedule.

The Cumberland Pencil Museum is one of the most unique museums in all of England, situated exactly where the world’s first pencil was made. It is alluring for its rich, long, and entertaining history, displayed beautifully with the most remarkable and historically significant pencils from the past. Those that are interested in art are advised to visit the museum, especially during a workshop to make the best of out of the visit.

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