Cookes: Our History

The history of Cookes is  a tale of what were  two of the worlds largest rope businesses of their time; British Ropes & Gourock. For more than 100 years Cookes has enabled New Zealand's industrial and commercial sectors to do New Zealand's heavy lifting, hauling, hoisting trawling and more...


Cookes finds its heritage in William Cooke and Co, founded in 1866 in Tinsley, Sheffield, they were a large manufacturer of the time that produced Steel, iron and wire ropes. In 1911 William Cookes and Co were established in Auckland, New Zealand, marking the beginning of Cookes, New Zealand's leading wire rope and lifting solutions provider.

Throughout the 20th century, the New Zealand business continued to succeed, enabling our industrial and commercial sectors to grow and build New Zealand. In 1954 William Cooke and Co were acquired by British Ropes, who were at the time the worlds largest manufacturer of steel wire and fibre ropes. In 1974 British Ropes changed their name to Bridon, now known as Bridon-Bekaert, and in New Zealand, this led to the company trading for the first time as Cookes.

Over the next four decades, cookes would expand its reach across New Zealand, adding 11 locations around the country. During this period the Cookes name was changed to reflect various ownership structures and the incorporation of the New Zealand fishing supplier brand Gourock.

In response to the formation of Bridon-Bekaert The Ropes Group in 2016, we returned to the name Cookes, still, New Zealand's leading supplier of high-performance wire ropes and lifting equipment.


Gourock, first established as a company in 1735, was one of the largest manufacturers of marine products of its time. Gourock specialised in the manufacture of fibre ropes, sailcloth and canvas products.

Records show Gourock first began selling into the New Zealand market in the 19th century. However, Gourock's history in New Zealand dates further back; It is understood that Gourock fibre ropes were at work on the Endeavour - a testament to our heritage in New Zealand.

In 1920 Gourock opened offices and warehouses in Wellington to better serve the New Zealand market. Orders were made directly from Port Glasglow. However, import restrictions at the time prevented the company from selling their full range of wares. In 1970 Gourock was acquired by British ropes and subsequently became part of Bridon ltd.

Locally in New Zealand, Gourock and Cookes while owned by the same company, operated independently of each other offering high-value solutions to New Zealand industry. This remained the status quo until 2010, when Cookes and Gourock came together and began trading as Bridon incorporating cookes and Gourock, allowing us to better serve our customers needs. Today Gourock is Cookes high-performance fishing brand - featuring industry leading products to the fishing & aquaculture markets.
Bridon-Bekaert The Ropes Group (BBRG) was formed on 29th June 2016 by the merger of Bridon Group with the steel ropes and advanced cords businesses of Bekaert. Together, an unrivalled partnership was created, capitalising on over 300 years of combined expertise and technology leadership.

Prior to the merger in 2016, Bridon and Bekaert were already business partners. Not only did they source steel wire, ropes and half-products from one another, they were also involved in an important joint venture many years ago.

During the recession of the early 1930s, trade tariffs were put on imports of steel wire to the UK. In response, the Belgian steel wire maker Tréfileries Leon Bekaert needed to set up a UK factory to produce wire.  Bekaert set up production in association with Templeborough Rolling Mills Ltd, a local supplier of wire rods, and in 1933 it joined with British Ropes Ltd and the United Steel Companies Ltd to form Tinsley Wire Industries Ltd (TWIL) with a factory at Tinsley in Sheffield. 

Production steadily increased and in 1973 Tinsley Wire Industries Ltd were the third largest wire producer in the UK with an emphasis on high quality galvanised wires for Steel Wire Fencing, including barbed wire and welded panels. In the same year the company acquired another UK factory called Rylands from British Steel who were in the process of restructuring.

In 1976 a new parent company was formed, co-owned by Bekaert, British Steel, and Bridon.  
Bekaert later aquired full ownership until the UK facilities went on to become Betafence, a Belgian owned global fence maker when the Tinsley Wire name was dropped from the records.