Talks

History of rope, hemp, twine and sail in the South West
by Ross Aitken

Date: Thursday 6 February 2020

Its place in world trade and importance in national and local history

History of rope, hemp, twine and sail in the South West
History of rope, hemp, twine and sail in the South West

The talk will explain why Coker Canvas was the most important sailcloth for pirates and the navy for hundreds of years. It will set the scene of this importance referring to Admiral Nelson, Emma Hamilton and our local pirate William Dampier. The talk will cover the huge trade between the West Country and Russia in hemp & flax and why twine was so important. It will explain the history of the Dawe’s Twine Works project conserving the only working rural twine works in England.

Ross Aitken is the Chairman of the Coker Rope & Sail Trust which has brought back to life Dawe’s Twine Works in West Coker. He was a geologist working initially for BP on oil rigs in the North Sea and then heading up their uranium exploration programme in Canada. He then worked for the European Commission in Brussels for 25 years ending up handling relations between the Commission and the European Parliament in foreign affairs.

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