In the early 1900s, all of Britain’s newly-manufactured nautical ropes were sent to Rotherhithe in south-east London, where highly skilled artisans would season the raw hemp by passing wind over the coiled ropes in specially designed sheds, or, Gruff Houses, as they were known.
Each Ropefarter would eat up to 12 tins of beans and 3lbs of Brussel sprouts before each 11-hour shift and would often expel up to 600 atmospheres of gas during that time. That’s enough to inflate an average hot air balloon 5-times.
The Ropefarters were eventually made redundant by the shipping companies when residents in neighbouring Bermondsey complained about the noise and smell after a number of young children and elderly people died from asphyxiation during a 24-hour shift on a blisteringly hot day in July 1903.
Source: The Ripsnorter and Botty Burp Guide 1907