Keswick

Street Map

Keswick (/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,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 Kesewic, meaning ‘farm where cheese is made’. The name is from the Old English cese (cheese) with a Scandinavian initial ‘k’ and wic (special place or dwelling).

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 Workington on the Irish Sea coast.

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 Windebrowe Avenue, 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 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.

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.

The Keswick Convention is a Christian convention that has met annually in the town since 1875. It typically attracts 6,000+ visitors per year and is usually held in the second and third weeks of July, although it has recently changed to the last two weeks of July and the first full week of August. Notable speakers at the convention have included Billy Graham, John Stott, George Verwer, Peter Maiden, Alistair Begg, Jonathan Lamb, Steve Brady, Vinoth Ramachandra, David Coffey, Joseph Stowell and Anne Graham Lotz. The main Convention Centre is located on Skiddaw Street.

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 (21.1 km) course starts in Keswick, loops through Borrowdale and circles Derwent Water before finishing at Keswick Rugby Club. In May the town hosts the annual Keswick Mountain Festival.

Keswick was granted Fairtrade Town status in 2005.

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 that subsequently found a static home at Keswick for many years and is currently situated at Snibston Discovery Park in Leicestershire.

The town 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 and 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.

Fitz Park, located on the bank of the River Greta, is home to the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, a Victorian museum which features the Musical Stones of Skiddaw. In 2001 the park was voted the “Loveliest Cricket Ground in England” by Wisden Cricket Monthly.

Ormathwaite Hall is Grade II listed Georgian mansion house near Keswick. It belonged to the Brownrigg family from 1677 to 1800. The doctor and scientist William Brownrigg hosted a visit by Benjamin Franklin in 1772.

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.

Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge moved to Keswick 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.

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

 

No reviews yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.