1850 – 1900 Production
John Hall died in Baker Street, Hull in 1863. His son, John Edward, was the first member of the Hall family to run the factory from Barton itself. It was John Edward Hall who remained in charge until the company was reformed in 1890. John Edward Hall ensured Hall’s Ropery expanded greatly during his tenure, especially in regard to the development of steam power for making ropes. It is known that in 1864 John Edward financed the building of a Mission Church, built as part of the rope works buildings, and there are several documents which detail charitable donations to Hull Trinity House and various other charities.
Few setbacks occurred in this period of prosperity, despite a fatality in 1855 and a flood in 1868 being noted in contemporary sources. However, the later nineteenth century presented the company with problems which lead to its near collapse in 1890. The ending of the age of sail saw demand for traditional rope rigging fall significantly, and the introduction of steel cable did nothing to help this trend. For a company that still relied so heavily on the shipping of Hull and Grimsby, the effects on the business were grave, and when combined with a generally poor national economic performance in the later 1880s, were nearly catastrophic. The advent of steam fishing left many smaller fishing outfits completely redundant, and the company subsequently suffered heavily from bad debts during this period.
So in 1890, Hall’s Barton Ropery Co. Ltd. was created as a private limited company to raise enough capital to survive the troubles of the period, and was financed substantially by the Sissons family. Hall’s Barton Ropery made it a priority to engage in wire rope manufacture, and began this in 1891. No wire rope was actually produced on the ‘old’ Barton site, instead the company purchased Overton Brother’s wire rope works in Beverley. The capital expenditure of £15,000 used to save the company was a substantial amount, but it seems this investment was not matched by a change in focus by the company, as by 1900, 50% of the company had to be sold to the Wilson Shipping Line of Hull. This was attributed mainly to a continuing reluctance by the company to export their products. It is probable that the company contracted, as it is recorded that many of the company’s ships were sold in 1891, leaving perhaps as few as two in its ownership throughout the 1890s. (In comparison, sixty years earlier, John Hall had built and registered four ships for use by the rope works). The company then moved to offices in De La Pole House in Hull, a fine medieval town house. This was a proud asset but sadly became the last resting place of the company’s archives which were destroyed by bombing during the Second World War.