Unravelling Barton Ropery - The Ropewalk Heritage Project

The Ropery played a crucial role in the industrial development of Barton and impacted on the lives of many, but the story of Hall’s Barton Ropery has previously been told only through the company’s official publications.
With funding from the heritage lottery fund, Unravelling Barton Ropery was set up to research the 200 year history of the company and document the personal testimony of ropery workers.
Two publications have been produced: Ropeworks traces the historical development of the Ropery; Family Ties tells the recent history of Barton Ropery through the personal recollections of people who worked there. Education materials have been developed to allow children to interpret the site’s industrial heritage and to complement the Ropewalk’s arts education programme. The heritage exhibition has been redesigned to incorporate this new research and improve visitor’s appreciation and enjoyment of the site.

Project Staff:

Jane Dowden – Education Researcher
Will Fenton – Researcher and author of Ropeworks
Nick Triplow – Creative Writer
Ian Wolseley – Project Manager


Ropewalk Museum

The Museum at The Ropewalk has received Accreditation from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

The Accreditation Scheme is regarded as one of the most innovative and effective developments in the museum sector and leads the way in raising museum standards in the UK.

The Ropewalk Museum pays tribute to the history of the rope making factory, Hall’s Barton Ropery, which opened in 1767 and its workers.

Housed in the Grade II listed building which stretches a quarter of a mile along the length of Barton Haven, the Museum Corridor contains displays, artefacts and other memorabilia associated with the history of the factory and its workforce.

Some of the artefacts on display and in store were rescued when Hall’s Barton Ropery closed for the final time in 1989 while others were donated by former employees and their families when funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund enabled a project which chronicled the history of the factory and its workers through more than 200 years of its history in two books, Unravelling Barton Ropery and Family Ties.


Potted History

The foundation of the Hall-Mark company dates back to 1767 when the Halls, a wealthy ship-owning family from Hull, first became involved in rope making in Barton. The town already had a workforce of skilled dressers, spinners and rope makers. In 1800, the Hall family bought the site to establish a permanent rope works in Barton.
The whaling and fishing fleets of Hull and the shipbuilding yards provided a rich and diverse market for Hall’s products, including ropes, sailcloth, twine and tarpaulins. Imported hemps, flax and other fibres from around the world rapidly replaced local materials. By 1851, the factory was powered by steam and lit by gas.

The company expanded further and overcame difficulties such as the flooding of the works in 1868. The economic depression of the 1880s nearly closed the works. As part of efforts to save it, wire rope production began in the 1890s at a separate site in Beverley.

The works were extended in the early twentieth century, in time to meet the war-time demands between 1914 and 1918. There was a greater involvement of women workers at the factory to meet these demands.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the company’s export trade was vigorously pursued with “Hall-Mark” ropes being supplied around the world. The company was steered through a fall-off in demand and the National Strike in 1926, resisting the pressure to amalgamate with other firms. During the Second World War production again shifted to supplying the military and essential industries at home.

With the advance of new technology in plastics in the 1950s, the works began producing ropes from synthetic fibres. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the Barton Works continued to make both synthetic and natural fibre ropes.

Despite its successes, the company was faced with growing competition from larger firms. In 1986, Hall’s Barton Ropery was bought by Bridport Gundry who continued making rope here for the following three years. The site was sold to Bridon plc who soon announced immediate closure of the site in 1989. Plant and equipment were stripped out, and two hundred years of rope making in Barton came to an end.

Publications Available

A brief history of Hall's Barton Ropery
The two-hundred year history of Hall's Barton Ropery was always a significant part of Barton upon Humber's industrial past. Featuring the results on new archival research, this book re-interprets some aspects of the firm's long history, focusing on the company, its founders and Barton men and women who worked there.

Family Ties
Stories from Hall's Barton Ropery
When Hall's Barton Ropery closed its doors in 1989 almost 200 years of ropemaking came to an end. For the men and women who worked there, the Ropery was more than machinery and buildings - it was part of their daily lives. Family Ties brings together the stories and memories of former workers and their families: recollections of good friends, hard times and hard work. The routine of everyday working lives set against a changing industrial landscape.

The two books can be purchased from the Ropewalk, priced at £5 each.

Unravelling Barton Ropery Education Pack

The heritage project has created an education pack to support interpretation of the Ropewalk by schools. The pack includes activities for KS1 and KS2 to use on site at the Ropewalk as well as in the classroom.

Onsite activities include a self guided tour of the site of the rope factory supported by teacher’s notes.

The pack of classroom resources covers a wide range of curriculum subjects including history, literacy, science and geography. The five sections of the pack each look at a different aspect of the site and its heritage and are designed to fit in with national curriculum programmes of study. The activities support the new heritage exhibition at the Ropewalk, about rope making in Barton.

To view Education Packs please click here
For more information please contact Janine Knight - Ropewalk Education Officer

Objects in the storeroom resource to support KS2 Theme 5: Retelling the Story of Barton Ropery
Please click here to download the information on this resource

The Ropewalk
Maltkiln Road
Barton upon Humber
North Lincolnshire
DN18 5JT

t: 01652 660380
f: 01652 637495
e: info@the-ropewalk.co.uk
Please click here for directions and additional visitor information