Tuesday, August 24, 2010

British Industry

We have visited the Wedgwood Museum and the Derwent Pencil Museum over the last few days.

It is really sad how the Wedgwood brand went into receivership a few years ago but luckily it was bought by an American company who try and revive dying industries. They Wedgwood do most of the production in Indonesia and a lot of the processes are far more mechanised than they were before (eg transfers for all the patterns rather than hand painting) but at least the company is now slowly turning around a profit.

This factory originally had over 3000 workers and now there are only about 150 but they do the 'prestige' work. They have a great visitors centre and museum and demonstration area. I loved the demonstration areas where craftsmen (and women) showed how the original processes were done by hand. Unfortunately no photography was allowed but it is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

Stuck my head in an open window

Today we went to the Pencil Museum in Keswick in the Lake District and when we arrived I was pretty worried that they had gone offshore like Wedgwood as the factory seemed deserted. Thankfully I found out inside that it had moved to a fairly close location and that all is well in the land of Derwents.

Photos were allowed so of course I took lots. It was a really interesting museum and I loved seeing how pencils are made (then and now) as well as historical samples of all my favourites.

Did you want these when you were a kid - I certainly did and was so jealous of my best friend who had the 72 Derwent set (and a Barbie).

I had to settle for the Lakelands which weren't anywhere near as cool.

Of course now I want one of these special Collections which are only made in limited quantities on special anniversaries.

I loved the machinery - this one is the machine that put the grooves in the timber (Cedar from California) and then the colours and leads are laid in the grooves and another layer of timber glued on top. They are then cut into individual pencils and shaped.

This was a secret pencil made by only a few selected people in the factory during the war which could be broken apart to reveal a map (for escaping POW camps). The metal piece was a tiny compass which was developed especially for these war pencils. How brilliant is that?

They had a great shop of course but unfortunately (grin) I didn't need to buy any as I already have the 72 Derwent set (in a beautiful wooden box) and Inktense Pencils and Graphtint pencils and an Academy Drawing Set. Pathetic aren't I?


Beverly said...

Lisa, I've been enjoying reading about your adventures in Britain- and I can't believe you were kind enough (in the midst of everything you've been doing!) to stop by my blog and leave a nice comment about my quilt. Thank you!

I hope the rest of your trip goes well, have fun teaching in Italy. Wish I could be there too--

camcas said...

Hey Lisa- I have that set of 72 Derwents in the red fold out standing box-got it in 1968 and I still have it and use them ...and I had a Barbie...but I dont think I have her anymore!!!
The pencils still smell FAB!!!

Judy said...


I too was jealous of a friend who had the set of Derwent, must have been wonderful to see how they are made.

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