Keswick, Cumbria: Wikis


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Coordinates: 54°36′00″N 3°07′45″W / 54.5999°N 3.1293°W / 54.5999; -3.1293

Moot Hall, Keswick.jpg
The Moot hall in central Keswick
Keswick is located in Cumbria

 Keswick shown within Cumbria
Population 4,984 (2001)
OS grid reference NY270233
Parish Keswick
District Allerdale
Shire county Cumbria
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town KESWICK
Postcode district CA12
Dialling code 017687
Police Cumbria
Fire Cumbria
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Workington
List of places: UK • England • Cumbria

Keswick (pronounced /ˈkɛzɨk/ KEZ-ik) is a market town and civil parish within the Borough of Allerdale in Cumbria, England. It had a population of 4,984, according to the 2001 census,[1] and is situated just north of Derwent Water, and a short distance from Bassenthwaite Lake, both in the Lake District National Park. Keswick is on the A66 road linking Workington and Penrith, as well as the A591 road, linking it to Windermere, Kendal and to Carlisle (via the A595 road). It lies within the historic county boundaries of Cumberland.





The town is recorded in the 13th century as Cese-wic, indicating that it acted as a market for cheese.

Middle Ages

The Moot Hall lies in the centre of Keswick and acts as the focal point for the Saturday Market on the Market Square.

Keswick was granted a charter for a market in 1276 by Edward I. The market is held every Saturday in the pedestrianised main street in the middle of the town. The marketplace features the Moot Hall which once acted as the town hall but is now a local tourist information office.

During the 16th century, small scale mining took place in Keswick, and it was the source of the world's first graphite pencils.[2] The pencil industry continued in the town until 2008, when the company moved to Workington on the Irish Sea coast.

Recent history

Keswick was the first place in Great Britain where police used riot gear. The equipment was on trial in Manchester when there was a disturbance on Lake Road, in which a police car was overturned. Help was summoned, and the Greater Manchester Police arrived in full riot gear, thus giving Keswick this footnote in police history.[3]

During the Second World War students from Roedean School were evacuated to Keswick.


The town is administered by Keswick Town Council and Allerdale Borough Council. Previous to 1974 the town had been an urban district in its own right and was entirely surrounded by Cockermouth Rural District.

Present day

Today, the majority of Keswick's businesses are tourism related, providing accommodation and facilities for the tens of thousands of people visiting the area each year. The Keswick Tourism Association publishes an annual guide to the area, including details of annually inspected and approved visitor accommodation.

Many visitors to Keswick come for the town's annual film festival that in 2006 attracted almost 3,000 paying customers. Keswick is also host to an annual beer festival which takes place on Keswick Rugby Union Club field and an annual jazz festival. The Beer Festival is held the first weekend in June, run jointly by Keswick Rugby Club & Keswick Lions. Over 5,000 people attend and can sample 200 real ales plus many ciders, lagers and bottle beers. Live bands play throughout the festival.

A half marathon is held each May; the 13.1 mile course starts in Keswick, loops through Borrowdale and circles Derwent Water before finishing at Keswick Rugby Club. In May, 2007 the town hosted the Keswick Mountain Festival.

On 11 January 2005, Keswick was granted Fairtrade Town status.

A panoramic view of Keswick, Derwentwater and the surrounding fells, as viewed from Latrigg north of the town


Keswick is the venue for an annual Christian Convention (called the Keswick Convention) that has been running since 1875 and now covers three weeks towards the end of July.

In the Christian sphere Keswick is also the home to Castlerigg Manor, a leading Roman Catholic residential youth centre. The centre is in the manor house from which much of the local land was owned in the 19th century.

Places of interest

The pier on Derwent Water near Keswick

Keswick is the home of the modern Theatre by the Lake which is the permanent home for repertoire and festivals. It carries on the tradition of summer season productions first started by Century Theatre in the 'Blue Box'. This was originally a mobile theatre which subsequently found a static home at Keswick for many years and is currently situated at Snibson Discovery Park in Leicestershire.

The town is home to the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum, a motor vehicle museum featuring celebrity cars from television and film, and Keswick Museum and Art Gallery; a Victorian museum which features the famous Musical Stones of Skiddaw.

Keswick is also the site of the Cumberland Pencil Museum. This details the manufacturing history of pencils and shows how pencils have been used through the ages.[4] One of the exhibits is what is claimed to be the world's largest pencil. there is also a mining a rock museum.

Castlerigg stone circle, a well preserved prehistoric monument, is 2 miles (3.2 km) away.

Hodgson How is a natural hill located west of Keswick. Hodgson How may have been a place of assembly or Viking Thing. How is from the Old Norse word haugr meaning mound. [5]


The town used to be linked to Cockermouth and Penrith via the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway which closed in 1972. There is a project to reopen the railway.[6]

The town is served by a range of bus services providing connections with nearby towns such as Cockermouth, Penrith, Windermere and Kendal. However, the majority of visitors arrive by car, and are catered for by a number of town centre car parks.

Notable people

Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge moved here with his family in 1800 and visited and collaborated with William Wordsworth in nearby Grasmere, frequently walking back and forth between the towns. Robert Southey and his wife came to stay with Coleridge at Greta Hall in 1803 and ended up residing there until his death in 1843. Coleridge left Greta Hall in 1804 leaving his family in the care of Southey. Due to their residence in the district, the three poets are collectively known as the 'Lake Poets'. Southey is buried in the churchyard of Crosthwaite Church and there is a memorial to him inside the church.

Novelist Sir Hugh Walpole lived nearby, at Brackenburn on the shores of Derwent Water.

Pioneer mountaineers and photographers George and Ashley Abraham lived and worked in Keswick.

Former British Gymnast Stephen Dykes was born in Keswick. He now resides in Nottinghamshire but still has a house in the town.

Ian Taylor, founder of the breadmaker Kingsmill was born in the town.

Lauryn Graves, Famous Jazz singer/creative writer. Recognised for her very big Keswickian words.


The Keswick dialect is a variant of the Cumbrian dialect spoken around the Keswick and Cockermouth area.


  1. ^ Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Allerdale Retrieved 2009-11-21
  2. ^ A Brief History of Pencil Making in Cumbria over the Last 400 Years (leaflet from the Cumberland Pencil Museum)
  3. ^ Lake District Life (Archant): 23. May/June 2007.  
  4. ^ Cumberland Pencil Museum
  5. ^ A Survey of the History of English Placenames by Dame Cateline de la Mor la souriete
  6. ^ Keswick to Penrith Railway Re-opening

External links


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