Keswick General Store is a family-run company based in Keswick, right in the heart of the English Lake District. We design and print original art dedicated to the places we love. We swung open our digital doors in 2012, with a view to creating products that would both promote and celebrate our little corner of Great Britain.
Our initial product range is a series of prints, proudly printed in Cumbria.
A little bit of history…
Keswick General Store was originally inspired into being by one of our local heroes – an all-round good bloke called Hardwicke Rawnsley (1851-1920). In a life dedicated to making the Lake District – and England – a healthier, happier place to live, Rawnsley achieved much for the good of the region, including: co-founding the National Trust (between 1883 and 1895); founding one of the first co-educational schools in England – Keswick School – in 1898; and even encouraging Beatrix Potter to publish her first book The Tale of Peter Rabbit (first published 1902). However, it was in 1884 that Rawnsley founded Keswick School of Industrial Art, a venture dedicated to educating and training local men and women in the industrial arts, with a view to seeing them produce high-quality and commercially viable products. “The aim of this school is to find remunerative employment for working men, in spare hours, by teaching them such art industries as can be profitably carried out in their own homes.”
Keswick School of Industrial Art specialised in producing metal work, carving and embroidery, but was most renowned for soundly designed wares in copper, brass, pewter, stainless steel and silver, all underpinned by a desire to counter the mass-produced, generic produce of the age: “To counteract the pernicious effects of turning men into machines without the possibility of love for their work”. Only the best products passed Rawnsley’s discerning editorship at KSIA, and those given his approval were adorned with the extremely cool KSIA mark (pictured). Rawnsley based KSIA in a purpose-built workshop and gallery on High Hill, just next to Greta Bridge – currently Luca’s Italian restaurant – the building still adorns the School’s motto: ‘The Loving Eye and Patient Hand Should Work With Joy and Bless This Land.’ The school closed in 1986, but many KSIA products are still in circulation today via antique shops, auction houses and eBay.
Our long-term mission is to see Keswick School of Industrial Art restored to former glories, in the words of Mr Rawnsley, “To show that here in England an abundance of skill of hand is wasted which, if any education worth its name were given to the whole working man – to his eye, hand, heart, as well as head – could and would help England”. We hope that Keswick General Store is a very small first step in the right direction.