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Keswick ( ) is a market town and civil parish within the Borough of Allerdalemarker in Cumbriamarker, England. It had a population of 4,984, according to the 2001 census, and is situated just north of Derwent Watermarker, and a short distance from Bassenthwaite Lakemarker, both in the Lake District National Parkmarker. Keswick is on the A66 road linking Workingtonmarker and Penrithmarker, as well as the A591 road, linking it to Windermeremarker, Kendalmarker and to Carlislemarker (via the A595 road). It lies within the historic county boundaries of Cumberlandmarker.



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. The pencil industry continued in the town until 2008, when the company moved to Workingtonmarker on the Irish Seamarker coast.

Recent history

Keswick was the first place in Great Britainmarker where police used riot gear . The equipment was on trial in Manchestermarker 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.

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


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

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 Borrowdalemarker and circles Derwent Watermarker 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.


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 summer.

In the Christian sphere Keswick is also the home to Castlerigg Manormarker, 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 Lakemarker 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 Leicestershiremarker.

The town is home to the Cars of the Stars Motor Museummarker, a motor vehicle museum featuring celebrity cars from television and film, and Keswick Museum and Art Gallerymarker; 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. 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 circlemarker, a well preserved prehistoric monument, is away.


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

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 Grasmeremarker, 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 Watermarker.

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 Nottinghamshiremarker but still has a house in the town.

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


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. Cumberland Pencil Museum
  4. Keswick to Penrith Railway Re-opening

External links

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