Records of Gourock Ropeworks Co Ltd, letterbooks

Administrative / Biographical History

The Port Glasgow Rope & Duct Cowas founded in  1736  in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, Scotland. In 1797 it merged with the  Gourock Ropework Co (founded 1777) to form the  Gourock Ropework Co The company enjoyed a world-wide reputation in the manufacture of ropes, canvas and sailcloth. By the late nineteenth century the company was under the control of Henry Birkmyre (1832-1900) and his brother, John (1834-1910), who had become partners in the firm in 1853. Their father, William Birkmyre, had also been a manager of the company until he retired in 1860.

The firm was incorporated as the  Gourock Ropeworks Co Ltd in 1903 through the amalgamation of the Gourock Ropeworks Co and  New Lanark Mills. By 1954 the company had both a large UK and overseas operation. In the UK, as well as the Gourock Ropeworks Co Ltd, there were 4 operating subsidiary companies, namely the Greenock Ropeworks Ltd, Greenock; A Thomson Black & Co Ltd, Shettleston, Glasgow; J Lomax & Sons (Bolton) Ltd, Bolton, England; and the Gourock Ropeworks Co Ltd with sites at Port Glasgow, New Lanark, Govan and Aberdeen. There were also 15 branch offices of the company within the UK. Overseas, the company had subsidiaries operating in South Africa, Canada, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Australia, Argentina and New Zealand, along with offices and agents in most of the former British colonies. The Gourock Ropeworks Co Ltd became part of Bridon Ropes Ltd in 1970 when it was taken over by Bridon Fibres & Plastics Ltd. The works at Port Glasgow closed in 1976. The Gourock Ropeworks Co Ltd still continues to exist but no longer trades.

For a more detailed administrative history of the company see the  full Gourock Ropeworks collection description.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received.

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Related Material

For more correspondence, see GB 0248 UGD 042/12, Company files


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Additional Information

Collection catalogued by Jane Jamieson, Assistant Archivist, February 1998 (lower level descriptions) and Gemma Tougher, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing) September 2012 (subfonds level description). Converted to Encoded Archival Description by Emma Anthony, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing) March 2012. Descriptions edited by Emma Anthony, Business Archives Cataloguer, March 2012, and Gemma Tougher, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), April 2012 and September 2012.

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