Guide to the Ropeworks

Welcome the Hawes Ropemakers

During your visit this Guide will take you through the various manufacturing processes, from the new building to the old building, finishing in our well stocked shop. The headings below are matched by large signs on equipment throughout the two buildings. We hope you enjoy your visit.

The Ropewalk
Runs the whole length of this new building. For a rope longer than 100 feet (30 metres) we can open the door on the left and go outside, just like the ropemakers of old!

Here we use traditional methods to make bannister ropes, barrier ropes and cattle halters. Other products, such as horse leading reins and skipping ropes, are made throughout the day on our short ropewalk in the other building.

Thomas Wharton (1778-1852) was a ropemaker in Hawes when the first national census was taken in 1841. A century ago, most towns and villages had a ropemaker, just as they had a local cobbler and blacksmith. Here in Hawes the ropemaker’s products were used by farmers; near the coast sailors and fishermen used ropes. Nowadays Outhwaite’s products go to more than 20 countries!

These machines produce warp-knitted braid in different diameters, about finger thickness. We use these for making dog leads and clothes lines. Note that the yarn is supplied directly to the machines from ‘creels’ behind the braiders.

Dog Lead Store
Please look to your right - here is the colourful dog lead packing area, where orders are being assembled for despatch to wholesalers and pet shops.

Moulding Department
Beside the packing area, the famous Outhwaite Cleats are used to make handles on dog leads and hold the trigger hook in place. Small plastic granules are heated, melted and moulded around the braid to make a secure and neat fastening. Your Club emblem or Company logo can be included on our dog lead; please ask for details

Bannister & Barrier Ropes
Please look left - lengths of coloured rope hang ready to make into banister ropes and barrier ropes. As orders arrive the rope is cut to the exact length required; solid brass or chrome fittings finish off the product. Handmade decorative ‘rose knots’ are used on the bannister ropes, which you will see advertised in glossy magazines. There are displays, with order forms and free samples of the coloured yarn used in Bannister and Barrier Ropes available on request.

Happy to Help!
Now we move out of this building via the door at the end. Staff are always glad to assist visitors in wheelchairs - please do ask for help.

From the Bridge
Ropeworks are usually long and rope-shaped. This one bends to follow the Blackburn Syke (stream). There may be a street in your town called the Ropewalk, the Ropery, or similar, marking the place where ropes used to be made.

Old Outhwaite Ropewalk
Numbers on the floor were used to measure, in feet, the ropes being made (1 foot = approx. 30 centimetres).

Video and Refreshment Room
Take the opportunity to take the weight off your feet whilst watching the Ropemakers video.

Winding Room
One automatic and two semi-automatic winding machines are used to wind yarn onto the bobbins used on the “Maypole” braiding machines.
Finished reels of twine and braid are wound on the traditional Leesona machine on the left-hand wall.

Maypole Braiders
These produce plaited cord for uses such as light pulls, carrier bag handles, anorak draw cords etc.

The Shop and Traditional Ropemaking
We hope you enjoy browsing around our ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of a shop. Here you can also watch yarns being ‘warped up’ for traditional ropemaking. Part of the fascination of watching ropes made is the satisfaction of seeing the complete process, in which many thin strands of yarn are rapidly twisted into a strong rope.

We hope you enjoy your visit!