A RETIRED rope maker has pulled together strands of his story in an intriguing memoir.

Kendal man David Ellwood worked at the family business up until his retirement in 2003 where his last day spelt the end of an era for the Ellwood family.

Established in 1816, DF Ellwood and Sons began on Stricklandgate and moved to High Tenterfell before officially settling in 1910 at Stockbeck.

With the help of The Tools and Trades History Society and Judith M.S Robinson David has shared his memories while also providing his knowledge of rope-making, a wealth of expertise that has been passed down his family for many generations.

DF Ellwood received clients from all corners of the nation as well as overseas for orders as normal as garden twine to flax twine which helped to make up the parachutes harness during the war.

One unusual market David recalled, which put his family trade into the headlines in 1992, was when he declined a contract to make nooses for American and Malawian hangmen. He said that his firm would have nothing to do with requests for quality rope to hang convicted criminals. One potential customer who wanted to place an order for 100 hanging ropes for Malawi turned up at Ellwood’s door and even showed the picture of the hangman.

The book, Yarns from the Ropeworks a History and a Memoir is filled with examples of the types of clients the family business would deal with regularly.

“Since retiring and looking back now I miss the customers who used to come in,” said David. “Knowing where our rope would go to and what it was going to be used for was always intriguing.”

From time to time, David and his father were approached by the police to try to help trace some rope they believed had been used in crime. However, the only crimes which involved their products were the illegal fishing of salmon with rabbit snares.

In the book there is an in-depth explanation of particular types of rope and twine the business would create.

“We had a very big trade in the agricultural and gardening industry but again our material was used in nearly every industry you can think of one way or another.”

An industry that David fears may be finishing soon due to various competitors and high demands such as Sellotape, which began replacing parcelling strings in the 1970s, and synthetic rope he reflects back on how successful the family business was.

He said: “Each rope has its own story which can go back to many years.

“I was told if i didn’t write down our family story it would simply disappear and be forgotten and no one would have any idea of what we did.”

After David’s retirement and with no one wanting to continue the family line of work DF Ellwood was sold to another organisation in Newcastle.

Yarns from Ropeworks a History and a Memoir is available at Sandylands Post Office, The Courtyard Cafe - Quaker Tapestry and will soon be in store at the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry.