The manufacture of pencils has a long and proud history in Cumbria, an area which is naturally rich in graphite deposits.  The Cumberland Pencil Company built their new Keswick factory in 1937, and it went on to produce the famous Derwent and Lakeland pencil ranges through to its closure in 2007. While few would argue that the forlorn buildings of the Keswick plant are particularly fine examples of industrial architecture, their remarkable location (in the midst of the green and mountainous Lake District) gives them a unique geographic context, as well as a significant place in the social history of Keswick. Now a decade on from the plant’s closure it seems they are likely destined for demolition, but perhaps someone will pull a mixed-use, gallery cum live-work space rabbit out of the hat at the eleventh hour. The future of the adjacent Pencil Museum, notorious rainy day attraction for bored tourists, remains bright however, so concerned pencil enthusiasts need not fear. Short on time we skipped the museum and wandered around the desolate factory, it’s what comes naturally to us.

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© Modernist Tourists 2017

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