News > Celebrating 230 years – Montrose Rope and Sail Story

Celebrating 230 years – Montrose Rope and Sail Story

The Montrose Rope and Sail Company was first Established in 1789. Now 2019, this year we have been celebrating our 230th year of business and to start we’ve been looking back at Montrose Rope and Sail so far!


Founded in Montrose in 1789, the original company served the flourishing local fishing industry manufacturing ropes and hand-sewn sails that could withstand the harsh weather out at sea. As the Scottish fishing fleet diminished and industries changed our company had to adapt to change to survive. As sails and textile products for this industry became less in demand, manufacturing products like Lorry Covers out of locally produced cotton became more popular.



In the early 1900’s the Paton Family, became the sole owners of Montrose Rope and Sail, and still own and run the company today! In the 1940’s, rope making ceased as it was no longer feasible to hand manufacture due to costs but the sewing and manufacturing of textile based products still continued.

By the late 1960’s, the company had introduced newer materials, like the PVC we use today, into their manufacturing so that they could keep up with different industry standards. While digging into our past we found a quote about us which we thought was quite fitting. In 1970 Mary Chalmers noted Montrose Rope and Sail as:

“a company who have survived many significant industrial changes and two world wars as they adapt their output to changing needs”
(Mary Chalmers, 1970)



In the 1980’s, Neil Paton, our Managing Director, was asked by a friend if we could make him a kitbag to go offshore with to keep his belongings dry. Using our waterproof PVC materials we made one, it went offshore and we got good reports!
Since then, we’ve made a name for ourselves in North Sea Oil and Gas and over the last forty years, countless offshore workers have come to depend on us for their specialised kitbags, backpacks, industrial covers and other equipment they need to enable them to do their jobs safely and skilfully.



In the early 1990’s, we introduced a computer controlled cutting table so that we no longer had to cut the pattern pieces for the products out by hand. This meant that the production time for our products especially for the bag side of the business was dramatically reduced and meant we could increase capacity. This table was a welcome addition to our manufacturing process when we were still based at the original building and it travelled with us to our new premises in 2009.

By the early 2000’s we had grown considerably and were still located in the traditional premises that were built for rope making and manufacturing sails back in the 1700’s. So in 2009, the company moved to custom built premises to allow for the undertaking of larger projects. We had room and capacity for a second cutting table and the move also meant that we could launch The Montrose Bag Company. The launch of the Montrose Bag Company for us, builds on four generations of heritage and experience and makes our unique range of durable, versatile, reliable bags available to a global wider audience as well as individuals in the Oil and Gas industry.



All our products are still hand manufactured in our workshop in Montrose by our skilled manufacturing teams, using the same tried and tested materials and the same passion for perfection.The quality of our products made by our skilled manufacturing teams, along with the top customer service is still at the core of Montrose Rope and Sail & Montrose Bag Company today.



Now in 2019, we continue to innovate to grow our business into new markets and invest in our team. In 2018, we welcome two new apprentice machinist, Robbie and Conlan, and this year had a third apprentice, Hayden, joined us at Montrose Rope and Sail. All our apprentices start in the bag company learning how to produce our bags for our own range and many customers using the same skills and techniques which have been passed down through generations.



At the start of 2018 we entered into a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Grays School of Art, Robert Gordon University and a graduate designer, Amy, who joined us in February 2018. We have been developing a new range of products which sits in our brand portfolio under the new brand, Veske. The work we have been doing on the new range broadens and develops our manufacturing teams skills to create higher end products allowing our company to expand into new markets. Veske which is aimed at the fashion and lifestyle market is due to launch next year.


At Montrose Rope and Sail, we continue to use traditional hand manufacturing techniques alongside innovative machinery and materials to create our great quality products made in Scotland. This mix of tradition and innovation working together is also part of our succession plan for Montrose Rope and Sail to remain as a family run business into the future!



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