The other night the programme ‘Great British Railway Journeys’ visited the Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company in Lillyhall, Cumbria. Later I got on to YouTube and it was fascinating watching the pencils being made. Did you know that for a long time this area was the only place in the world where graphite was mined? These days the factory produces one million pencils a week and exports to between seventy and eighty countries around the world. But I digress.
A number of girls at my high school had Derwent pencils and I thought they were the best pencils ever. My mother could not afford Derwent’s’ which did not worry me, though I did decide that one day when I had money of my own I would buy myself a packet.
I was about sixteen years of age when I bought a box of 72 Derwent pencils. As I remember they cost £7.96 which is roughly $105.00 in today’s money. These pencils were my pride and joy; I guarded them with my life. The only person allowed near them was my sister, Celia. She revered them nearly as much as I and one day bought her own box also.
When I say I guarded them with my life, I mean until my daughters came along. Fiona our first daughter was very careful with them but gradually as the other girls arrived the pencils were lost along the way. Part of the problem was that priorities change and the Derwent’s had been replaced, my pride and joy was now my little girls.
You can imagine how thrilled I was when a parcel arrived from Fiona some time back. Inside was a tin of Derwent pencils and a couple of colouring books. In Luke Chapter six Jesus is quoted as saying, “Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over….”
I didn’t really give my Derwent’s away they were just replaced with something of greater value but as they say ‘what goes around comes around’ and here I am a good fifty years later with a box of Derwent pencils.
A 1960’s box of 72 Derwent’s