Peter Minchin's Rope Making Machinery
In 2019 we acquired the traditional ropemaking equipment of the late Peter Minchin.
Peter made church bell ropes in his rope walk at his home in Bishops Frome, Herefordshire from 1971 through to 2018, however it is likely the machinery is over 100 years old. In Jean Minchin's obituary (Page 226 Ringing World 10/3/23), it is claimed the ropemaking machinery was previously owned by John Nicholls (Lewisham).
In the grounds of the farm house, Peter built a 130 feet (40 metre) long rope walk along the boundary fence in 1970, generally of a timber shed type construction and little more than 7 feet wide inside with a corrugated asbestos roof. In windy weather internal cross bracing had to be temporarily positioned to prevent the structure from collapsing. This is where he made many thousands of bell ropes for churches throughout the country.
Peter and his wife Jean worked as a team to make bell ropes with Jean winding the jack. As the property has now passed into new ownership, little remains of the rope walk that once existed.
The machine Peter made bell ropes on consisted of a fixed rope winding jack and a moving traveller. As part of Peter's estate, another rope winding jack was found which is an identical copy of the main rope winding jack he had used, except this one had a centre hook. We have fully restored this machine, installing ball bearings where plain bearings once were and replacing the cracked castings with steel fabrications. It is likely this was an unfinished project which we have since completed and mounted on the traveller, replacing the rudimentary rotating hook that Peter had used.
Peter never made full sized bell ropes utilising manmade fibres, believing the pre-stretched polyester to be 'Utility' rope; a traditional approach.
Having a rope winding jack mounted on both the fixed end and the traveller end is unusual. This setup can enable very long ropes to be made with two people twisting the rope up together. The design also permits larger diameter ropes (over 3/4"/20mm) to be made, utilising additional equipment to form smoother strands and to improve the rope strength. A system like this has been used on the heritage rope walk at Chatham Dockyard since 1811.
Whilst we have the rope making equipment and accessories that go with it, we have no records from Peter and Jean of their customers or rope records.
Should anyone wish to get in contact with Peter or Jeans family, please let us know as we can pass your details over to them and allow them to make contact with you.
Avon Ropes have restored Peters' rope making machinery to use for educational purposes at exhibitions and events. The ropemaking machinery is fully enclosed via acrylic screens such that it is protected making it ideal to take to shows/events.
Avon Ropes don't use this machinery as part of our own products.
Please contact us should you wish to borrow it or learn more about the machinery.
Peter Minchin and his wife Jean operating their rope walk in 2014 (Photos from Peter Minchin Facebook page 2014)