INDUSTRIAL SOUTHWOLD
Rope Making
 
9 -11 Victoria Street, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6HZ - Tel: 01502 726097 email
 
 
 
 
 
Mr William Button
In the beginning
The Sea
Natural Southwold
Fishing
Transport to Southwold
Southwold at war
Christianity in Southwold
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Holidays & Leisure
Southwold the town
Southwold Shops & Trades

 

Find out more about Southwold Industry from the booklet 'Southwold as an Industrial Town' on sale in the museum shop.

 
 
 
 

Making rope and fishing net twine is one of our oldest trades. In the mid 19th century there were at least three rope 'walks'. One was Jasper Goodwin's whose walk ran from Spinners Lane to the marsh across what was to become the railway track. The two others were centred on Henry Oldrings' works in Cumberland Road. One of his walks stretched to Field Stile Road while another, much longer one, ran past the Church to North Green. The length of the walk determined the maximum length of the rope. The walker or spinner had to walk backwards from the spinning wheel, paying out the hemp fibre from a large hank wound round his waist.

Both Goodwin and Oldring had ceased trading by the end of the century but one of their employees was to become Southwold's best known rope maker. He was William Button. When he died in 1935, aged 90, he was described as England's last hand rope maker.

Goodwin's rope works in the late 19th Century
 

'Walking' the rope at Goodwin's rope ground on the Common near Spinner's Lane. At the time this photograph was taken at about the turn of the century, Goodwin's closure was imminent . The name 'Spinners Lane' survives. (P1351)

Click to enlarge

Use the links below to explore the history of Southwold’s other industries.

Brewing
Hosiery and bedding manufacture
Iron founding
Milling
Public Utilities (Gas, water, electricity)
Rope making
Salt manufacture

Shops and Trades

 
Mr Button's apprentice

Mr Button at first employed a boy to man the wheel. Later, he devised his own wind-assisted machine to 'automate' the process.

Click to see the full picture

   
 

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Southwold Museum & Historical Society, 9 -11 Victoria Street, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6HZ
Tel: 01502 726097 email

A Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Registered Charity No 1159790,