The Pencil Museum

Southey Works, Keswick, CA12 5NG
The Pencil Museum

The Pencil Museum (Steve Daniels /

If you and your family find yourself in Keswick in the midst of a downpour and need something to entertain the children, you might wish to consider a visit to the Pencil Museum.

Opened in 1981 the museum celebrates Keswick’s links to the popular Derwent brand of pencils and provides a somewhat unusual and quirky way to spend a couple of hours.

Planning Your Visit

Contact Details:
01768 773 626 / Website
Please see official website
Seasonal Opening:
All Year


Pencil making in Cumbria dates back to the Elizabethan period with graphite mined in the area used to create products that were popular with artists. Keswick had a reputation for producing the best pencils in the world with small workshops dotted around the town. In 1832, Banks, Son & Co. opened up the first pencil factory in the town.

This would later become the Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company in 1916. Until 2007, pencils were still made in Keswick in a factory adjacent to the museum under the Derwent brand, which is now owned by Acco UK. The factory has subsequently moved to larger premises in Workington.

Things To See

The museum was badly affected by the floods of Storm Desmond in 2015 and has been completely refurbished since then. The museum is small, consisting of one room, and it tells the story of the humble pencil from its beginnings several hundred years ago. There are displays that include restored machinery that were once used by manufacturers to create pencils. Modern manufacturing methods are explained, with detail on each step of the process.

You can also have your picture taken next to the world’s biggest colouring pencil, which is just under 8-metres long. Every visitor is given a sheet of questions to complete, with the answers to be found within the museum. There are colouring sheets for children and throughout the year the museum runs workshops in conjunction with local artists where participants can hone their pencil drawing skills.

Useful Information

There is a coffee shop at the museum that serves a selection of light lunches and cakes, sourced locally wherever possible. There is also a shop stocking the full range of Derwent pencils and sketch books.

The museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users.


Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more.


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