Friday 29 February 2008

The Old Rope Walk, Newington, Liverpool.


I love pub signs – especially ones that are “wrong” - and during my wanderings in Liverpool city centre on Monday I came across the Old Rope Walk in Newington, Liverpool.

This is a ropewalk which was a long straight narrow lane, or a covered pathway, where long strands of material were laid before being twisted into rope. Ropewalks historically were harsh sweatshops, and frequently caught on fire as hemp dust forms an explosive mixture. The ropewalk at Chatham Dockyard is still producing rope commercially, and the rope walk has an internal length of 1,135 ft (346m). When it was constructed in c 1790 it was the longest brick building in Europe. Before steam power was used in 1836, it took over 200 men to form and close a 20in (circumference) cable laid rope. The rope walk is used to form and close the rope, these being the final stages in rope making. Before this the raw hemp, manila or sisal has to he hatchelled, spun into yarn, and tarred.

A sailing ship such as HMS Victory required over 20 miles (32km) of rope. This is the Gors Foch, a tall ship which docked in Birkenhead in 1984 - I wonder how much rope it has on board? Liverpool being the home of hundreds of sailing ships the demand for rope must have been enormous and although I have done no research on the subject it may be that the rope works stood on the site of this pub.

Unfortunately when the signmaker designed the pub sign he hadn't a clue what a rope walk was - so this is what he came up with!


  1. I've just finished researching a book on pub history and pub signs and I love finding unusual signs too. Please post any more you find!

    Elaine Saunders
    Author: A Book About Pub Names

  2. The Old Rope Walk pub takes its name from the area it is in: RopeWalks. The streets where created with very long length in order to turn the rope along them for the ships. Who am I? Journalist for RopeWalks, the area's presence on the web.


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