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M. Donaghy and Sons Ropeworks

Kinnear’s Ropeworks or M. Donaghy and Sons Fairview Ropeworks as it was earlier know, was a huge industrial site towards the northern end of Pakington Street in West Geelong. The factory had made rope on the site from 1874 until its close in the 1980’s

Geelong Ropeworks

The factory was established by Irishman Michael Donaghy. Donaghy learn the art of ropemaking in England before coming to Australia. Donaghy started the rope making business in Marnock Vale near Riversdale Road in 1853 in an area we know today as Chillwell or Newtown. Donaghy soon outgrew his first factory and he decided to invest in a larger factory that was closer to the railway line.

The new factory was built in Pakington Street West Geelong in 1873, it was more suitable and was fitted with lots of new technology imported from the UK and USA. Donaghy’s rope business was so busy he also enlisted the help of his sons John and Michael. John eventually took over the company and was once a West Geelong Councillor, represented Geelong in the Legislative Assembly and held many titles and achievements around Geelong in his life time. Rope was in great demand around this time and Donaghy set up other Ropeworks in Port Adelaide and Dunedin, New Zealand.

The factory consisted of a 500 metre rope walk enclosed in a long narrow corrugated iron shed. The walk was used to lay out and create long ropes. Bundles of fibre were spun into strands and then pulled along the rope walk. They are then attached to hooks and twisted and woven to create the rope.

When Donaghy’s business went into recievership the working factory was sold to one time rival ropemaker Kinnears in 1978. Kinnears continued rope making operations on the site up until 1999. Modern technology and cheaper rope imports from overseas had finally forced the closure of the 125 year old factory.

3-ropeworks

Today the Ropeworks site after many years of controversy has fallen to the developer and is now a new shopping centre called Pakington Strand. This new complex contains Woolworths as its major tenant and a range of smaller specialty stores. While much of the former factory was demolished, the former canteen building and the heritage listed ropewalk was retained. A small section of the former ropewalk can be seen in the car park of the shopping complex. The majority of the ropewalk extends up between residential housing, with some parts of the corrugated iron building visible from Collins Street.