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Not to be confused with Tightrope walking.
For other uses, see Ropewalk (disambiguation).

A ropewalk is a long straight narrow lane, or a covered pathway, where long strands of material are laid before being twisted into rope. Due to the length of some ropewalks, workers may use bicycles to get from one end to the other.

Ropewalks historically were harsh sweatshops, and frequently caught fire, as hemp dust ignites easily and burns fiercely. Rope was essential in sailing ships and the standard length for a British Naval Rope was 1000 ft (305 m). A sailing ship such as HMS Victory required over 20 miles (32 km) of rope.


Downtown Liverpool's bohemian RopeWalks district takes its name from this practice and consists of the lanes where this work once took place.

Laying the rope in the ropewalk at Chatham Dockyard

The ropewalk at Chatham Dockyard (as part of the Ropery or Ropehouse) is still producing rope commercially and has an internal length of 1,135 ft (346 m). When it was constructed in 1790, it was the longest brick building in Europe. Before steam power was introduced in 1836, it took over 200 men to form and close a 20-inch (circumference) cable laid rope.[1] The rope walk is used to form and close the rope, these being the final stages in rope making. Before this the raw hemp, manila hemp or sisal has to be hatchelled, spun into yarn, and tarred.

In the early 17th century, Peter Appleby constructed a 300-metre long ropewalk (for the dockyard) in the Christianshavn neighbourhood of Copenhagen, Denmark.[2]

From the late 17th century, the ropewalk on the Swedish island of Lindholmen was a key component of the Karlskrona naval base producing rope up to 300 metres in length for the cordage of warships. Although production ceased in 1960, the elaborately designed facility is now open to the public with exhibitions and demonstrations of ropemaking.[3]

In the 18th Century, Malta and Port Mahon, on the island of Menorca, both had open-air ropewalks.[4]

In Boston in the United States, some early rope making businesses are called 'Ropewalks'.[5]

Jalan Pintal Tali which is in one of the older, central parts of George Town, Penang, Malaysia, literally means "rope-twisting street".

In Toronto, a ropewalk appears on municipal maps from as early as the 1860s and operated for at least 40 years. The ropewalk ran to the east of Lansdowne Avenue (formerly Jameson Avenue, then North Lansdowne Avenue). [6] 1884 Insurance Plan shows the factory going from lot 42 at the south end to lot 35 at the north. [7]1890 Assessment rolls show the owner to be an Alice McGregor and Archibald McGregor as a tenant rope maker aged 66 and list the ropewalk sheds. The municipal assessment rolls show many residents in the neighbourhood employed by the ropewalk factory. Examples: Michael Curran age 35 rope maker; Michael Griffin rope maker, Barthlamew Sullivan age 62 rope maker; Peter Griffin age 27 rope maker, James Lochrie age 32 rope maker, John Baylor (or Taylor) age 46 rope maker, Bat Sullivan Sheridan age 62 rope maker, Egbert Barwell and Patrick Dillon.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Historic Dockyard Chatham, where legends were created." Guide Book. 2005. Jarrold Publishing.
  2. ^ "Appelbys Plads på Christianshavn. Engelskmandens Plads" (in Danish). Københavns biblioteker. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  3. ^ "The Rope Walk on the Island of Lindholmen", Upplev Karlsrona. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  4. ^ Coad, Jonathan (1983). Historic Architecture of the Royal Navy. Victor Gollancz. p. 71. ISBN 0575032774. 
  5. ^ "Samuel Gray". Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  6. ^ The Goad's Fire Insurance Plan of 1884
  7. ^ 1890 City of Toronto Municipal assessment rolls

External links[edit]