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Certificate of Excellence 2013 Winner The National Lottery and Heritage Lottery Fund Arts Council England

Ropemaking

The Ropery, 1786-91
Scheduled Ancient Monument & Grade I

The Ropery, 1786-91 Rope has been made on this site since 1618. Today Chatham is the only one of the original four naval ropeyards still in operation and with much of its original machinery and all its buildings complete. Together the buildings of the Ropery form one of the finest integrated groups of 18th Century manufacturing buildings in Britain.

The main ropery building, the Double Ropehouse, was built during the Napoleonic Wars to house the spinning, closing and laying processes. Originally worked entirely by hand, the closing and laying process were mechanised from 1811 and powered by steam from 1826. Machinery dating from 1811 remains in regular use and on display to visitors - see Ropery section. Rope continues to be made commercially by the Trust's subsidiary charity Master Ropemakers.


Hemp Houses and Spinning Room 1729- 1814

Scheduled Ancient Monument & Grade II

Hemp Houses and Spinning Room 1729- 1814 Built from 1729 the Hemp Houses provided storage space for hemp - the main raw material of ropemaking during the Age of Sail. The buildings retain many of their original fittings including much of their timber panelling.

In 1864 mechanical spinning machinery was introduced to the upper floor and women workers employed to look after the new machines.


Hatchelling House 1786-91

Scheduled Ancient Monument & Grade II

Located at the north end of the Double Ropehouse this building was used by the Ropeyard's hatchellers to comb the hemp fibres to straighten them before spinning. This was the first stage of the ropemaking process and was undertaken by hand until the introduction of mechanised spinning machinery in 1864.

Yarn Houses, 1786-91
Scheduled Ancient Monument & Grade II

The Yarn Houses are formed from three buildings now joined together. These were the  White Yarn House, used to store newly spun hemp yarns, a Tarring House, where the yarn was dipped in molten yarn for rot proofing and the Black Yarn House where the tarred yarn was dried prior to being returned to the Double Ropehouse to be formed into strand.



The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TE, England

Info Line: +44 (0)1634 823807 Trust Office: +44 (0)1634 823800 Fax: +44 (0)1634 823801

Fully Accredited Museum - Registered as a Charity No. 292101