Bourne Spooner founded the company in 1824. Spooner's abolitionist beliefs were the building blocks of the company's philosophy. He modeled the company after factories in the South but employed free labor. His innovative employee relations and benefits resulted in engaged employees. He believed happy employees would make better workers.
Bourne Spooner 1790-1870
Spooner selected a 45-acre parcel for the factory just two miles north of Plymouth Rock. The location offered 130 feet of frontage on the harbor with direct access to shipping channels. This allowed ships to deliver raw materials directly to the factory and for the company to ship finished goods worldwide.
With the land secured, Spooner turned all his attention to finding backers for the business. Within two years, several backers expressed their interest in the company: Caleb Loring, John Dodd, William Lovering, Jr., David Low and Charles Nichols. On June 12, 1824, the Plymouth Cordage Company was incorporated and listed on the Boston Stock Exchange. The company by-laws were adopted at the first stockholders meeting and the first Board of Directors were named: Loring, Spooner, Dodd, Lovering and Low. Bourne was given full charge of the ropewalk until his retirement in 1870 at the age of 80.
In 1885, a devasting fire destroyed the Field Mill. The burnt structure was replaced with Mill #1, a building designed to be more resistant to fire. Production ramped up and Mill #2 was built in 1899.
In 1904, a second factory was built in Welland, Ontario. Welland was deemed an excellent location for the Canadian branch due to its proximity to the US border, availability of electricity and transportation facilities by way of rail and water through the Welland Canal.
The company was thriving. A third mill was erected in 1908. Plymouth Cordage soon became the world's largest rope manufacturer and employed over 2,000 employees by 1916.
Foreign competition increased by the 1950s and Plymouth Cordage was keen to expand. In 1956, the company diversifies into eyelets, tacks, fertilizers and paper products with the formation of Plymouth Cordage Industries. PCI had locations throughout the US and Canada.
After over 140 successful years, rope manufacturing ceased operation in Plymouth and was sold to the Columbia Rope Company of New York in 1965.