Universe Rope Works

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1859 to 1914


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Located in



Atlantic Cables, Wire Rope, Hemp Rope, Twine, Tarpaulin

Used Raw Materials

Steel, Iron, Hemp, Cotton, Coir, copper wire, gutta-percha, iron wire, Manilla yarn, jute

|1859 |1914 |John & Edwin Wright |-

|1859 |1914 |Rope and Fiber Industries |-


“Universe Rope Works was set up on an 80-year lease in 1859 by the Birmingham-based firm of John & Edwin Wright. Buildings of one and two storeys covered most of the ground. Products included wire- and hemp ropes and cables, twine, tarpaulins, rick-cloths and brushes. (fn. 74) After their closure in 1914 (Wright's Ropes Ltd continued in business in the Midlands) the works became a sailmaker's, and in 1925 the site was acquired for housing by Poplar Borough Council; part remained in use as an engineering works until 1937. (fn. 75)”

John & Edwin Wright invented and patented the first successful Atlantic Cable in 1865-1866.

“So far as the materials are concerned, the cable owes its existence to the skill and enterprise of Birmingham manufacturers, and the industry of Birmingham workmen. Four things were required for the material of the cable—copper wire, gutta-percha, iron wire, and stout Manilla yarn. The copper wire was manufactured by Messrs Wilkes and Co., and Messrs Bolton and Sons, both of Birmingham; and the iron wire was produced by Messrs Webster and Horsfall at their works, Hay Hill, Birmingham, from homogeneous iron made at their works at Killamarsh, near Sheffield. The Manilla yarn was spun by Messrs John and Edwin Wright, of the Universe Works, Garrison Street, Birmingham, and Millwall, London. And, finally, the combined materials, copper, iron, gutta-percha, and Manilla yarn, were put together under a telegraph construction patent, taken out by Messrs Wright, the Construction Company at Greenwich being their licensees.”