Rope has been made in the dockyard since 1618 , the current buildings were built in 1790 and at the time it was the longest building in Europe with an internal length of 1,135 ft ( the rope walk itself is a quarter of a mile ) . It’s now a Grade 1 listed building.
At the north end of the Ropery is the Hatchelling House , hemp was brought there from the Hemp House and then straightened by being pulled across spikes , it was then spun into yarn. Yarn was then taken to the White yarn house and pulled through a tar kettle before being taken and hung in the Black Yarn House to dry. Once dry they were placed on special spools and returned to the Ropery where they would be spun into rope
There are guided tours of the Ropery each day assisted by a ” foremen from 1875 ” , there is also a live demo of rope making on Mondays to Friday’s each week.
It’s still producing rope to this day using some of the Victorian machinery and you can buy Chatham rope from Master Ropemakers Chatham they made the rope that’s still used on HMS Victory at Portmorth Navl Museum. They are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.
The local village of Hempstead gets its name from Hemp , that rope is made of , and Stead which means farm .