A redundant pencil factory has seen the beginnings of a new lease of life this week, with youngsters flocking to enjoy children's activities in the building.

Christian charity Keswick Ministries, which runs the annual Keswick Convention, has begun redeveloping the former Derwent pencil factory at Southey Works and create a new integrated site for its events.

Next year is set to be the first in which the three-week event's main tent is situated on the factory site, off Carding Mill Lane.

But, following initial clearance and clean-up work, supported by a team from Lillyhall-based CRS Facility Management, part of the old factory building is being used to teach and entertain young people throughout this year's event.

The convention began on Saturday and children's work started on Monday.

The move enabled the charity to drop the number of marquees on its neighbouring Rawnsley site, reducing noise from the site.

As well as visiting conventioners, people in Keswick and surrounding areas are welcome to make use of the free children's activities available during the event.

There is a chance to find out more about the planned redevelopment of the factory building at tours on every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon during the convention. Places are limited and must be booked.

Keswick Ministries has again worked with Keswick Tourism Association and Newlands Adventure Centre to encourage conventioners to explore area and support local businesses.

Last year's popular Friends of Keswick loyalty card initiative has been launched again, with more businesses participating.

Keswick Ministries has arranged a free screening of The Secret Life of Pets 2 at the Alhambra cinema on each Wednesday of the convention. Tickets are available from the convention reception.

People in the town are also encouraged to attend the show A Turbulent Priest by James Cary, at 2.30pm today, which tells of the murder of Thomas Becket. Tickets are £5 each, or £15 for a family, available from reception at the convention centre on Skiddaw Street.

The theme of this year's convention is Longing, with speakers looking at what the Bible says about it and how it relates to topical issues in society today.

Speakers include Professor John Wyatt, emeritus professor of neo-natal paediatrics at University College London who is also a senior researcher at the Faraday Institute, Cambridge University, and Havilah Dharamraj, who teaches the Old Testament in a leading post-grad evangelical seminary in Bangalore in India, is leading seminars on the Bible book of Song of Songs.

The main convention programme features morning seminars on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, along with one-off Keswick Lecture talks in the main tent on Wednesdays, all from 9.30am to 10.30am.

These are followed by morning Bible readings in the main tent from 11.15am to 12.30pm, and evening celebrations, also in the main tent, from 7.30pm to 9pm.

Jazz musicians the Kairos Ensemble will perform in the main tent on Wednesday, July 25, from 2.30pm to 3.30pm, to premiere new music based on the Bible book Song of Songs. Tickets are £5 each or £15 for a family, available at the convention reception.

Week three will see return of the Keswick Unconventional arts stream, featuring a range of concerts, outdoor workshops and other events.

Every year an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people attend the convention.

David Sawday, Keswick Ministries' chief operating officer, said: “The convention is a time of refreshment and inspiration for visitors. The combination of great Bible teaching in a World Heritage Site, surrounded by amazing countryside, is something that visitors value enormously and return year after year to enjoy. We want people to enjoy everything that Keswick has to offer, so their stay is both a blessing to them and the town.”

Mayor of Keswick David Burn welcomed conventioners. He said: “We obviously have wonderful scenery and a beautiful town, but we also have some great retailers in Keswick, and some amazing accommodation, pubs, restaurants and café, and some outlets have actually changed the times they serve food to fit in with your programme. We also have some excellent activity providers in the area, and a gem of a cinema.

"Last year a number of businesses in the town signed up to a Friends of Keswick loyalty card scheme. The scheme was so successful that even more businesses have joined this year, and it gives me great pleasure to formally launch the 2019 scheme.

“So please enjoy our town while you are here. Take advantage of the wonderful products that many Keswick businesses have to offer, and I hope you all have a great convention.”

For more details about the event and its programme, or to book a pencil factory tour or children's work, visit