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Ropery wheels back in motion

10 June 2020

Due to UK Government Covid-19 restrictions Master Ropemakers Ltd, the traditional manufacturing company based at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, was forced to close in March 2020 – a closure that has not occurred in the 400-year history of rope making at Chatham.

The recent loosening of lockdown restrictions for the manufacturing industry has enabled the rope makers to return to work and rope making has recommenced on the historic ropewalk this week.

Rope was first made at Chatham in the 18th Century and it is the only one of the original four Royal Navy Ropeyards to remain in operation. Master Ropemakers, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, continues to use the skills and traditions of 400 years of rope making to supply businesses and leisure markets across the world.

Today Master Ropemakers make rope on a commercial scale for clients ranging from schools, churches and sports clubs to theatres, film production companies and garden designers as well as continuing to supply historic sailing ships, such as HMS Victory, HMS Gannet, Cutty Sark and Endeavour.

Using natural and synthetic fibres in manufacture Master Ropemakers offers bespoke design and manufacture for projects of all shapes and sizes. The team of artisan craftsmen and women not only make rope and hand-made traditional rope products but also work with it: splicing knotting, net making, mooring ropes and creating products to customer requirements.

Alex Rowling, Manager, Master Ropemakers, said: “We are living in unprecedented times, closing the ropewalk and stopping the manufacture of rope has never happened in Chatham’s long history. Whilst the safety of our team is a priority, we’re incredibly pleased Government restrictions have started to ease and we’re able to start making rope once again.”

“We would like to thank everyone for their patience during our closure and we look forward to re-connecting with existing clients and reaching out to new ones. Commercial orders help to keep the Ropery alive and we urge everyone to support local businesses, like ours, during these challenging times.”

Find out more about Master Ropemakers:

The wider Historic Dockyard Chatham site remains closed to the visitors and public tours of the Victorian Ropery are currently not available.

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Notice to Visitors

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust welcomes the news that museums and visitor attractions are able to reopen to visitors from 4 July.

We are actively planning to welcome visitors back to the Dockyard as soon as we are safely able to do so but this will be some time after 4 July.

We will make a further announcement to confirm the exact date as soon as we can.

In the meantime, much of Dockyard life has never stopped. Master Ropemakers has started operating again and we are taking forward bookings for filming, group travel and hospitality, including weddings. Call the Midwife Official Location Tours will resume shortly.

We would like to thank all our visitors for their understanding during this challenging period.

Last updated: 25 June 2020