There’s a twist in the history of The Ropery as it begins a new chapter as a function venue.
One of the city’s oldest buildings, The Ropery in Deptford has had a chequered past, changing hands numerous times as a bar, restaurant and music venue.
Now it’s gone back to its former name, Webster’s Ropery, and has been opened as a venue for weddings, christenings and other functions by brothers Sean and Tim Kilmartin.
Sean says they felt it was important to keep the heritage of the building in the name. Built in 1793, the building is the oldest remaining patent ropeworks in the world, which once made rigging for the Battle of Trafalgar.
The businessman, who also runs the successful Italian Retro restaurant in South Shields and the The White Lead in Hebburn, said: “We could have changed the name but people will always remember it as The Ropery and would still call it that. Plus, people are really proud of their heritage in Sunderland and it’s important to keep that.”
He added: “I think a lot of people are pleased to see something being done with the site. It’s a beautiful 18th century Grade II-listed building and it’s a shame to see it derelict.”
Though numerous ventures at the site have failed to take off over the years, Sean believes the new guise can help plug a gap in the market for function venues in Sunderland.
He said: “As soon as I saw the venue I saw its potential for functions, it’s a great space with a bar area downstairs and two large rooms upstairs, and it makes a great backdrop for photos.”
The venue, which is owned by Camerons Brewery, will be exclusively for private hire and won’t be open to the public at other times. The brothers have also applied for a wedding licence so that couple can tie the knot at the historic site.
Sean said: “We could have opened it as a restaurant, but lots of people have tried that over the years and it’s failed. In places like South Shields there’s a lot of places for functions, but there aren’t many places at all like that in Sunderland. We’ve already had a lot of interest, with summer 2018 booked up for weddings.”
The reopening of the site is the latest refurbishment in the Deptford area, with Hanover Place opening in the former TJ Doyles site and The King’s Arms and The Saltgrass undergoing renovations.
Sean said: “Because we’re not a pub we’re not on that traditional Deptford drinking route that we used to be, but there’s some great pubs around here and people like the fact they can just walk along to them after functions.”