Industrial Heritage

Ropewalk Arts and Craft Centre, Barton-upon-Humber,

North Lincolnshire - Part 2


Rope making - Fibres and hatchelling


The process of rope making is divided into five sections. To follow it logically begin at the far end near the coffee shop, with FIBRES.

Ropewalk Arts and Craft
                Centre, Barton-upon-Humber
 
Originally all rope was made using fibres from hemp grown locally. Once the Ropery was opened, fibres had to be imported from Russia and Italy. Later manila from the Philippines was used as this was cheaper and stronger than hemp. During the Second World War, sissal from East Africa was used to replace manila and also coir fibres from coconut husks. During the 1960s, synthetic fibres were developed which were as strong as natural fibres but cheaper.

Ropewalk Arts and Craft
                Centre, Barton-upon-Humber

The natural fibre arrived in huge bales. Before being used, these had to be cleaned and the fibres untangled to make sure they ran in the same direction and straightened. This process was called HATCELLING.

Ropewalk Arts and Craft
                  Centre, Barton-upon-Humber  Ropewalk
                  Arts and Craft Centre, Barton-upon-Humber

The raw fibres were very coarse, so whale oil, or its modern equivalent, was poured onto the fibres to soften them.

Ropewalk Arts and Craft Centre,
                Barton-upon-Humber

Hatchelling was originally done by hand by pulling the fibres through a hatchel board with large metal pins.

Ropewalk Arts and Craft Centre,
              Barton-upon-Humber

This worked like a giant comb producing strands of long fibres, ready for spinning.  Shorter fibres got stuck in the hatchel and were called Tow. Nothing was wasted, so this was sold to be used as packing between the decks of ships.

Ropewalk Arts and Craft
                Centre, Barton-upon-Humber

From 1900 this process was mechanised using the same principle. Not only was it faster, there was less wasted fibre.

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