Derwent pencils are made in the UK by The Cumberland Pencil Company. Pencils have been made in Cumbria since 1832 and Derwent is proud of their heritage. Derwent combines traditional pencil making skills with state of the art manufacturing techniques making a high quality, British product. Several generations of local craftsmen have perfected the art of pencil making with their unique skills, and more than 175 years of experience and passion has enabled to develop the world’s best selection of art materials regarding pencils.


Legend has it that there was a severe storm in Borrowdale, Cumberland in the beginning of 1500s, which tore the trees up by the roots. Underneath one of such trees a strange black material – graphite – was discovered, which the shepherds started to use for marking the sheep. A little later the material found use also in military industry. As a result of the development of graphite industry the first pencil factory in Great Britain was established in 1832. In 1916, the factory was named Cumberland Pencil Company.

In 1930, for the first time a range of pencils, designed specially for children, called Lakeland, was introduced. It was followed in 1938 by “Derwent”, a brand designed for artists, which got its name from the beautiful Derwentwater lake nearby the factory. Since that time a huge assortment of art materials has been created, from traditional to innovative. The product range may have changed unrecognizably, but Derwent’s commitment for excellence remains unchanged.

Graphite found in Borrowdale

First record of a woodcased Borrowdale Graphite pencil by Konrad Gessner, in his book on fossils, published in Zurich

Graphite in lump form used as lubricant, medicine & for armaments

First recorded factory manufacturing pencils in Keswick

72 Derwent colours developed

Secret wartime pencil produced for aircrew in bomber command, World War II

Pencil Museum opens in Keswick

‘The Snowman’ released – Derwent pencils were used to create the animation

UV painting process developed

Manufactured the world’s longest coloured pencil (7.91 metres)

Won Queen’s Award for Enterprise for UV process.
‘Ice Age’ released – Derwent pencils were used to create characters

New factory built at Lillyhall & opened by Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh