Historic ropery provides material for refurbishment

The saying “money for old rope” is reversed with our latest purchase, as a lot of effort has gone into the sourcing of some new rope.

Inside the Bridge Chamber, some short pieces of rope are needed for handrails alongside steps, and to create simple barriers.

We were aware of cheap international suppliers but wanted to look closer to home. This is important to the Trust because it reduces the product’s carbon footprint and supports the local economy.

Consequently, we were pleased to be able to turn to Master Ropemakers at Chatham Historic Dockyard. Just along the river from us, they maintain a process of rope making that has been carried out on the site since 1618, which means ropemaking started there a mere 200 or so years after the foundation of the Rochester Bridge Trust. Despite our jest, this is the oldest rope making facility in the UK, having supported the Royal Navy for centuries. While the navy left the site in the 1980s, the traditional rope making continues to this day.

We’ve selected the 28mm Chatham hemp, which takes its name from the site and is one of the products made in the ropery which is open to visitors. The rope is made of fibres from the flax plant, is natural in colouring and comprises three strands.

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