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Ropery Cottage

the sights

    This article was published some time ago and my thanks go to Vera Chapman for putting this article together and allowing us to republish it.

    Barrow Ropery was owned by the Crowder family and Ropery Cottage still stands on Churchside.  Unlike Hall’s, in Barton, which made large ropes for ships, mountaineering etc., the Crowder ropery catered for local people, mainly farmers, carrying their goods to the surrounding villages and going as far as Barnetby, Melton Ross and Rothwell.  They did not have a long covered ropewalk.  When length was needed, they opened the back door and walked down the long yard, which can be seen on old maps.  Their rope making machines were made of wood, with hooks on one side and a handle on the other.
    The products included sheep nets, which were made by hand using home made shuttles similar to the ones used by fishermen.  Sheep nets had to be tarred and the tar copper was in a shed at the back of Red House, High Street, which was also owned by the Crowder family. In 1931 Red House was rented out to Frank Matthews and in the rental agreement it says ‘the small shed and Tar Copper on the said premises for the absolute use of the landlord with free and uninterrupted access thereto at all times and for all purposes’.  The same words are used in 1932 when G. W. Ella was the tenant.  
    As well as making the smaller items such as halters for horses, sheep and bulls, the Crowders provided bell ropes to Barrow, Ulceby and Thornton Curtis Churches.  They also repaired the bell ropes when they became worn and provided new ‘sally ends’.  They provided tennis nets for Barrow Tennis Club and a punt cover in cotton duck for the Earl of Yarborough.  They also repaired tennis nets, carpets, stack covers and re-tarred sheep nets.  No electric fences in those days!  They made nose bags for horses. I wonder if horses today still have the knack of tossing the bag up to get the last bit of food out?

    Several generations of Crowders have been rope makers in Barrow.  In 1841 James Crowder and his son William Taylor Crowder; in 1851 and 1861 William Taylor Crowder; in 1871, 1881 and 1891 William Crowder; and in 1901 William Crowder and John William Crowder.
    Vera would like to thank the Crowder family for allowing her to deposit their papers and notes into North East Lincolnshire Archives where they are available, accession number 035/2006 class reference 1260.  A selection of their tools is being prepared for display at the Baysgarth Museum, Barton.

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