Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 144,294 pages of information and 230,176 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Cumberland Pencil Co

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November 1944.
November 1947.

of Keswick. London Office: Lovell's Court, 13 Paternoster Row, EC4.

Legend has it that in the early 1500s, a violent storm in the Borrowdale area of Cumberland led to trees being uprooted and the discovery of a strange black material underneath. This material turned out to be graphite, and shepherds began using it to mark their sheep.

1832 A cottage industry of pencil making soon developed, culminating in the formation of the UK’s first pencil factory in 1832.

The basic principles of pencil making have remained the same over the centuries, although production methods have obviously changed considerably. Essentially, a colour or graphite strip is sandwiched between two pieces of wood then cut and finished into the shape required. This is now almost a fully automatic process whereas at one time every single stage was carried out by hand

1916 The factory has had various owners in its history, but became the Cumberland Pencil Company in 1916.

1922 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Pencil and Penholders of all description for School, Drawing and Office Use. (Stand No. K.78) [1]

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Blacklead, Coloured Chalk and Copying Ink pencils, also Pocket Book and Programme Pencils and Penholders of all descriptions. (Stand Nos. R.3 and R.155) [2]

1930 The Lakeland children’s range was launched.

1938 The Derwent brand of fine art pencils first appeared.

Since then, a huge variety of artists’ materials has been developed, from traditional to highly innovative, and the product range has expanded greatly.

Now part of British Pens Limited

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Derwent Pencil Company