Considering graphite was discovered in the UK it's only fitting that there should be a pencil museum to mark the milestone.
The Pencil Museum has something for everyone, charting the path of pencil making through written word, video & pictures. Readers familiar with the Lake district will know that whilst undoubtedly a beautiful part of the country, its also known for its rainfall. No wonder then that this indoor attraction is popular attracting 80,000 visitors a year.
Graphite was discovered in Borrowdale in the heart of the Lake District way back in 1564 where history has it that an oak tree fell during a bad storm revealing a large deposit of the mineral, initially thought to be coal. Although widely used in England as a lubricant as well as medicines & armaments the first records of a pencil factory in Keswick doesn't appear to have been until 1832. There are reports of pencil makers in Nuremberg Germany back in 1660, the city is still home to Faber Castell one of the oldest manufacturers in the world.
The Pencil Museum entrance is through a replica of the graphite mine & is home to the biggest colouring pencil in the world its around 26ft long & weighs a whopping 70 stones. There is a World War 2 Secret Pencil Exhibition, some 12 months in the making it details the exploits of some of the team designing a secret gadget & visitors can learn about the history of the escape artist's pencil used by RAF pilots.
There are also demonstrations, tuition workshops in creative crafts like silk painting, drawing birds & animal portraits as well as family fun day events on & a drawing zone where the kids can get “hands on”. Forthcoming events can be viewed here
The Cumberland Pencil Museum has disabled access & is open 7 days a week – times vary so check here before you visit to avoid disappointment, concessions apply to children under 16, senior citizens, students & groups. In between learning about the history of pencil making & discovering how colour makes its way into today's pencils you can take a break in the coffee shop.