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Peter & Ruth Annison from 1975

When Tom Outhwaite retired in 1975, the business was bought by two college lecturers, Peter and Ruth Annison. They had no knowledge of the ropemaking process, nor any experience of running a business. For a few months newspapers ran astonishing stories of "drop-out teachers" moving to Wensleydale.

For the record, it is worth saying that the Annisons' move was much more carefully thought out than the unsought publicity indicated. Both came originally from the north of England and already knew the area intimately from holidays, including the rigours of winter. The change of life-style was planned in detail to make good use of their previous joint experience - and especially Peter's specialist knowledge as a textile chemist. And for four months they overlapped with Tom Outhwaite before he retired, learning about ropemaking and the business.

An additional advantage was that Tom, still living nearby, continued to be readily available with advice and practical help after his retirement - and gave both willingly. This was especially important in an agricultural business, for even after the four month changeover period each fresh farming season brought some unfamiliar situation. During this period the new owners found the support and interest of Tom Outhwaite, his wife Mrs. Laura Outhwaite and his sister Miss Mary Outhwaite invaluable.

At about the same time as the business changed hands, the success of the James Herriot vet books contributed to an increase in tourism in the area. Visitors who came into the ropeworks to watch ropes made by the traditional method often asked for rope souvenirs, and so multicoloured skipping ropes and macrame (knotted) plant pot hangers were produced to meet this demand. A growing range of locally-made rope items was then developed to add to the list of agricultural rope products.

The firm of W. R. Outhwaite and Son (now trading as Outhwaites Ltd) now makes braid, cord and twine as well as rope, using more modern machinery. These differing constructions of fibres enable products to be made in Hawes which provide for many needs, including those of Pets, children, the household, work, travel, handicrafts and leisure as well as the traditional farming and equestrian markets.

Wensleydale tourist attraction, Hawes Ropemakers
WR Outhwaite & Son - Hawes, Wensleydale
Historic visitor attraction, Hawes Ropemakers
Dog leads, bannister ropes, bell ropes, church bell ropes, skipping ropes