Wednesday 25 June 2014

Cumberland Pencil Factory visit

A couple of weeks ago we had a tour round the amazing Cumberland Pencil Factory  in Workington, Cumbria, where the world famous Derwent Pencils are made!
It was a fantastic experience and I want to share some of the many photos I took while we were there.

The whole process is fascinating - the vibrant colours, aroma of the pigments and wood and even the wonderful friendly atmosphere are still vivid memories.

The start of the process - lots of different pigments.

The pigments are mixed to form a stiff paste.

This is then turned into high quality coloured cylinders.

This is fed into a machine which ....

...extrudes it as individual leads to be dried in a rotating oven.

Leads waiting to be immersed in wax.

The leads are put into cans and immersed in molten wax.

The beautiful American cedar wood being prepared for the pencils.

Grooves are cut to hold the leads.

The wooden slats are glued together with the leads inside.

These are then cured.


This machine "chamfers" the pencil ends.

This reminded me of honeycomb!

Several coats of paint are applied.

Pencils drying in racks.

Heat foiling the name onto the pencils.

Drying  - almost ready to be packed.

The pencils being packed into the famous tins.

As well as the pencils Derwent manufacture artists' charcoals and graphites.

                                                      The super new XL Graphite Blocks. 

In the lab where testing is done and new products are developed.

I couldn't resist taking a few shots of these beautiful leads!

The Pencil Museum, Keswick.

After our visit to the factory we drove to Keswick for a visit to the Pencil Museum.
This is well worth a visit, not only for artists but also for children.

Just to prove we were actually there!

You can have a walk around and see displays and exhibits of some fantastic pieces - eg. the world's biggest pencil and  
a pencil commemorating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

..........and, if you check the times, you can even get some expert tuition on watercolouring in a room inside the shop from a visiting artist!

I couldn't possibly do the factory proper justice with these photos and write up. I've only scratched the surface of what all is involved in creating these fantastic products  - it truly was an amazing experience!

A very big thanks to Leah, who showed us around and explained it all so well - and to the workers who chatted and made us feel so welcome...also, to the lovely ladies who work in the Museum - I even paid them a second visit before we came back to Northern Ireland :)


  1. Sounds and looks fascinating, I love seeing how things are made. xx Thanks

  2. wow ! so much goes into making each one...makes them seem cheap now!

  3. marvellous to see how our dear pencils come to life!!..

  4. You are such a lucky lady another fantastic tour. Loved every photo....thanks again for sharing and letting us be part of the tour. :-)

  5. It is a wonderful factory to visit I went there about 8 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Love all that colour.

  6. Would love to go there, great photos

  7. Thanks for sharing, I'd love to go and see for myself, maybe when my niece is a bit older...


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment, it's lovely to hear from you. Ruth