NEFA - The North East Folklore Archive

The Sea

The Peterhead Rope Works by J. T. Findlay

At the beginning of the nineteenth century there were two rope-works in Peterhead, employing from 12 to 18 hands each. In winter the works were full; during the summer months many of the hands were away north-ward with the whalers. The principal firm was known as the Peterhead Rope-Work, the buildings of which, converted into a byre, still stand at right angles to the South Turnpike. It was founded about 1800 and changed hands several times before it became defunct. First, a company with Colonel Hutchison as manager; then Colonel Hutchison himself, afterwards joined by his son; then, his son alone; then, Messrs William Baxter, David Gray, and Robert Walker; and finally about 1880 Messrs George Forrest and George Rennie. Rope-twining in Peterhead distinct from rope-making dates its decay from the decline of the Peterhead whale and seal fishing and the rise of Belfast and other ports where yarn can be manufactured cheaper.

In 1873 the firms of Messrs Donald Maclean and Son was constituted by the erection of a large wooden rope-making shed adjoining the granite polishing works and the railway station. These premises were once blown down by a storm. The proprietor in 1896 was Mr Alexander Maclean, son of the founder of the firm, and a brother of the late Neil Maclean, the talented author of Life at a Northern University, The Romance of the Whale and Seal Fishing, Memoir of Marshal Keith, etc.



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