Behind the scenes of the Derwent Pencil Factory


Have you ever been using your favourite Inktense, Coloursoft or Procolour pencils in the studio and wondered how they get made? All your questions will be answered on the TV this Wednesday, 25th September 2019 at 8 pm, in the second series of ITV4’s Made in Britain.

The hour-long show will follow the journey through our factory, speaking to members of staff and delving into the fascinating manufacturing process of how pencils are made. We are proud of our ‘Made in Britain’ heritage at one of the UK’s oldest continuously operating factories.

To celebrate, we wanted to give you some behind the scenes shots from the show to help you discover the hidden facts of Cumbria’s famous Derwent Pencil Factory.

Technical Team


Barbara Murray is the Technical Manager at our factory in Workington. As well as being  president of the UKCPS (UK Coloured Pencil Society), Barbara knows everything there is to know about formulating premium pencils. Barbara’s technical knowledge, passion for pencils and experience ensures that any new collection is up to Derwent’s (and Barbara’s) high standards!

We test for lightfastness, laydown, colour quality, strength and more to guarantee that any pencil leaving the factory and is lucky enough to be in your studio, continues to be a firm favourite for years to come.


This is Adam Gaskell, head of the Product Development team. His role ensures that Derwent is always innovating and looking for new ways to improve our products. When you put pencil to paper and you appreciate the laydown, texture or blending ability, it’s Adam and the team you’ve got thank.

The Factory

The Derwent Pencil Factory is much more than a standard factory: as well as being a state-of-the-art facility, it was built to ensure that our impact on the environment is minimal.

With recycling schemes for our office and factory staff, re-use of rainwater, smart lighting and our own biomass boiler for heating, everyone in the factory is conscious of our environmental footprint and we are constantly working to improve our energy usage.

The process

By pressing the mixture of graphite and binding materials into a billet (the big cylindrical item above), we can create a massive amount of pencils. The billet is forced through a small hole to create each pencil in the correct length, before being rolled to make sure they’re the perfect length to be put into their wood casings.

Did you know we use about 200 tonnes of ethically-sourced wood per year? Any waste wood is used in our biomass boiler to heat the factory!

Packing your pencils

All of our tins are hand packed – to ensure that you get exactly the pencils you require in your tin whilst ensuring that each tin is packed gently enough to stop core breakages. 

Our packing teams work to a tight specification to ensure that every colour and grade you need comes in the right order, in the right tin.

Don’t forget to tune in to ITV at 8pm on Wednesday 25th September to follow the full process and discover more about our Lillyhall factory.