A Trip to the Pencil Museum

pencilsI’ve been a bit quiet as we took a trip up to the lake district last week for the half term holidays. But I won’t bore you with all the other details of our holiday but on Thursday afternoon we popped up to Keswick to visit the pencil museum.

A Pencil Museum?

Yes, a pencil museum. Keswick has a long history of making pencils, in fact the Cumberland Pencil Company were home to the very first pencils after a discovery of an abundant graphite mine. Now known as the brand Derwent.

The museum isn’t huge but it does make for an interesting family afternoon. A family ticket costs £12.50 (or if you buy a family yearly pass for £17.50 you also get 10% off in the shop) As we were visiting during half term there was a quiz for the kids to complete and children’s workshops running through out the day.) There was a parking charge too as the car park is run by the council but the museum do discount your entry by £1.50 on presentation of the stub from the ticket.

Walking in the museum goes of to the left and the shop to the right, as I was waiting in the queue I saw the wall of books, a whole wall of books and it was huge. I spied Enchanted Forest and Animal Kingdom as well as some titles I had not seen before.

First the museum though. My lad had his quiz sheet and I told him he had to find all the information himself, I wasn’t going to help. After some initial complaints of not being able to find things, he did rather well and managed to complete the whole quiz.

elephant pencil sculptureEach of the sections had large displays with very easy to read information, though I have to admit I wasn’t that taken by much of the process of making pencils. The secret map pencil was rather interesting and I also found these beautiful pencil sculptures.  I spent a while looking at these, though the elephant was my favourite. There was also a Batman one that I had to point out to my husband.

The kids did discover the little colouring table. While my youngest sat in her buggy with the clipboard and a bit of paper and just scribbled my lad sat there very happily, he was only dragged away when they announced a workshop which he happily galloped off to while I browsed the shop.

vintage pencil tinsWhile they were colouring though I wandered the displays again, The worlds largest pencil (over 7ft and yes it is a proper pencil.)  There were also lots of cases filled with pencil collections, including some of the newer commemorative collections and lots of vintage and antique collections too. I loved these ones as they had beautiful lakeland scenes on the tins.

Onto the shop, which is around the same size as the museum section, filled with every type of Derwent pencil and lots of useful accessories. My husband even managed to get me a beautiful wooden pencil box that holds 72 pencils. It was an empty one but now I have the joy of filling it, he also bought me a sketch book and a little intro kit that has a CD of techniques a smaller sketch book and a set of 6 Inktense pencils. My husband was a bit sneaky as he didn’t tell me he was buying them for me, he just appeared with them.

I did buy myself Enchanted forest and a couple of little bits and pieces. My son came out with a set of 12 Aquatone sticks, a water brush and some water colour paper. I was quite impressed with what he learnt from a free workshop and he was equally thrilled with the results. For completing the quiz he also got two coloured pencils, one form the coloursoft range and another from the watercolour range.

The afternoon was certainly enough for us, if we had been there any longer I think it would have just cost us more as I discovered more and more things in the shop.