There had been the presence of Rope makers in the town since 1736, The Port Glasgow Rope and Duck Company. It was set up by a group of Glasgow Traders and their mill was situated where the Port Glasgow railway station now stands.

The Birkmyre family got involved in the company in 1814 and the bell on the roof of the building was know as " Birkmyre's Bell" and for many years was the towns bell.

Many of the surounding buildings were removed including the Rope Walk which stood to the rear of the building  in 1980, the bell having been removed some time before this after a fire rendered it unsafe.

The water fall still runs off the hills behind Port Glasgow. The water was used to dye and treat the ships sails in the manufacturing process Today it gives us an idea of just how much rain we have had and the area often floods in very wet weather.

In the 1881 cencus the staff of the mill were listed like this:

258 men, 28 boys, 63 women, 82 girls

It is however a listed building and any redevelopment of the site had to be in keeping with the local councils plans for the area as well as be approved by the Scottish Heritage.

Gourock Ropeworks Building

In 1958 this van left the mill with a consignment of rope that was on it's way first to Leith and then to Russia.

These shots show the old buildings that ran along the main raod beside the mill buildings. At one time Mr Henry Birkmyre lived in these buildings.
All of these buildings have now been demolished and only the main structure of the mill remains.
My thanks to Mrs Blair for some of these photographs used on this page.
In 1797 they sold their mills and business to a rival firm The Gourock Ropework Co who had been in operation since 1777 and up till then had been operating from premises in Cove Road in Gourock.
The eight story building that was to house the mill was origionally Richardson's Sugar refinery but in 1886 it was completly re-built to become the Bay Street Mill that we are falmiluar with today.
The company based in Port Glasgow had other subsiduary companys all over the world including Govan Ropeworks, Gourock-Bridport Ltd (Montreal) latterly known as Gourock-Bridport-Gurndry Ltd , Gourock Ropes and Canvass Co Ltd, Australia, Birkmyre Brothers (Calcutta) Ltd, Gourock Ropes & Canvass Ltd, New Zealand, and Gourock Ropes & Canvass Ltd, Argentine as well as connections to New Lanark. The company finally stoped trading from the building in 1975. 
The mill produced canvas and sailcloth as well as cordage, ropes and fishing nets. The PS Comet was fitted with ropes made in the mill and the hawsers for the Queen Mary in 1934 also came from the company.

After standing idle for many years the Gourock Rope Works building was to finally be converted into residential flats in 2005. The plans for the main building and surrounded land are 35 loft apartments, 24 luxury apartments on the east side and a further 58 on the west side of the building.

The other images show work taking place inside the mill.

The building is now complete and people have moved into their new homes - no further work has been done on the surrounding land

This page last modified on Tuesday, April 06, 2010

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