My Grandmother & Rope Walk, Falmouth

When my grandmother became too old and confused to live on her own she announced that she was going to move to the Methodist home in Falmouth.  We tried to persuade her to come and live at the farm with us but she was, as she had always been, determined.


Falmouth was the town where she had spent most of her childhood and married life and so I always felt that, even when she had lost all sense of whether I was her sister, mother, daughter or granddaughter, she still knew that she was somewhere where the air and the light was familiar.


Her bedroom window looked out on to Arwenak Avenue and when she first moved to the home she would walk up and down this shady, flat path and sit on a bench watching people bustle passed.  She told me then that the old people of Falmouth had a different name for this road.  They called it the Rope Walk.

The picture on the right was taken by Francis Firth in the 19th century, the one of the left was taken by me last week.

I believe the first record of the ground being used for rope making was in 1737 when Mr Thomas Deeble was leasing the ground from Arwenak Manor for that purpose at a cost of £5 per year. The famous Packet ships ensured a constant supply of traffic coming to the then busy harbour. Numerous tradesmen provided for the needs of the crew and the ships themselves. There were sail-makers and fresh water suppliers, carpenters and coopers.  Rope making however required a long straight piece of land so that the separate stands could be twisted together, first by hand and then later by machine. The avenue was ideal for the purpose.

When my grandmother finally passed away in her 90s we were of course incredibly sad to lose her but in many ways as her dementia had advanced she had felt lost to us for a long time before she actually passed away.  But the one thing that remained with her almost to the end were her memories of the old people and places of Falmouth.  As the years have gone by I have gradually missed 2016-05-26-11.43.36.png.pngher more and more, for her advice and wisdom that I didn’t realise I valued so much at the time and for the immediate connection that she provided with those moments and people from the past.

As silly as it may sound Carry On films, fish-fingers and the Rope Walk in Falmouth will always remind me of her.

For another post about family and the importance of home try: Hireth

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27 thoughts on “My Grandmother & Rope Walk, Falmouth

  1. My godparents lived right on the corner of Arwenack Avenue and Grovehill Crescent so I know it well. Your title rang a bell so I must have heard it called Rope Walk somewhere! There’s so many funny little places like that in Falmouth. Was interested in the name Deeble as our Dr was Dr Deeble and I was at nursery and school with his daughter.

    1. Dr Deeble (my father) was a direct descendant of Thomas Deeble and we always knew Arwenack Avenue as the Rope Walk. My great Aunt lived there for 40 years until she died in c 1980 – another lived in Grovehill Crescent.

  2. You have a look of her Elizabeth. Yet another great piece, we have been to Chatham dockyards, where they have a Rope Walk and it is/was one of the only places left .

  3. Here is what my great gran Georgina Phipps wrote in her book Halcyon days .
    The rope walk at Falmouth, now alas! extinct , captured my imagination. It was a fascinating craft to watch . The long wide avenue of Elmsthat housed the noisy rookery, and the men and boys slowly walking up and down underneath the trees with the flaxen “Tow ” ringed around their waists, being woven into giant hawsers and ropes of every size .Sometimes they would be walking backwards durung the winding and unwinding of something very special .

  4. The picture you took is wonderful, you would never know it wasn’t taken with a more modern camera.
    It must be lovely to have so many connections and memories attached to a particular place, thanks for sharing. 😃

  5. What a lovely story about your grandmother and falmouth.

    I never new that about the rope walk.

  6. my gggg grand father james nancarrow and his children james nancarrow were rope manufacturers in cornwall in 1750’s to1800’s tried for photos but in vain their address was ropewalk on the birth certs the family relatives were BRAY WILLIAMS POLKINGHORNE

  7. There was a rope walk building at Ponsharden until demolished in 1980s for the Leo’s super market on the Sainsburys site.

  8. A couple of my ancestors were ropemakers in Falmouth and probably used that walk. I think there was a smaller one on Fish Strand Quay. The family lived in various places in Falmouth including Arwennack Street & Fish Strand Hill.

    1. Hi Ian, that’s a lovely connection, there was another ropewalk on what is now Darcaena Avenue owned by the Stephens family who were Quakers in Ashfield House.


  9. My ancestors were Joseph Henry Garland (b 1841) & his brother James (b 1843). They were both born in New Street. About 100 years later than yours. But my family go back several hundred years in that area.

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