The Ropewalks area is located within Liverpool’s Riverside Ward to the South of the City Centre. The land rises gently from the Liverpool One development at Hanover Street up towards Berry Street and Liverpool’s Chinatown along roads that have taken their form from the ‘roperies’ that were founded to service the shipping industry following the creation of the world’s ﬁrst commercial ‘Wet-Dock’, designed by Thomas Steers, on land reclaimed from the former Pool in 1715.
‘Ropewalks’ is synonymous with the Duke Street Conservation Area, Liverpool’s Georgian Merchant’s Quarter. Conservation area designation in 1988 has enabled Liverpool City Council to protect this area of the city that has its origins in the early 18th Century growth of Liverpool associated with Britain’s expansion as a colonial trading power and the early period of the industrial revolution.
By the mid nineteenth century the ‘Old Dock’ had been reclaimed and the focus of the city’s growth had moved elsewhere. As a result the townscape of Ropewalks is distinct from the shire counties and ﬁelds that preceded the construction of the ‘Old Dock’ and the Victorian development within Liverpool that post-date it. The area’s international importance has warranted inclusion in the UNESCO Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City World Heritage Site (area 6 – “Lower Duke Street”).
Ropewalks today contains a mixture of late 18th and early 19th century merchants houses, counting houses and warehouses (early merchant’s dwellings often physically linked with their warehouses, reﬂecting a dual residential and commercial function), along with later 19th century and early 20th century low-grade commercial and industrial adaptation and redevelopment. The area encompasses one of the City’s major retail streets in the form of Bold Street, is home to a number of businesses in the creative industries, has a ﬂourishing nightlife and includes Liverpool’s vibrant Chinatown that developed in the area from the 1820s.
There are currently 102 individual listed buildings within Ropewalks.Over the last 15 years there have been new developments for mixed-use and apartment buildings; a multi-million pound ﬁlm and creative technology centre (FACT) and grant aided schemes to restore architectural features and bring historic ﬂoorspace back into use as shops, offices, hotel and living accommodation.
Much of the warehousing within Ropewalks has been brought back into use through the Lower Duke Street Townscape Heritage Initiative (1998-2001) and is now inhabited through mixed uses of apartments, o!ces and restaurants. The Liverpool: World Heritage Site THI (2005 – Present) is in the process of bringing back into use many of the buildings that are most ‘at risk’ within Ropewalks.