The Mill’s archive holds an extensive array of photography relating to the beautiful environment surrounding Halton, it also includes transcriptions of interviews from former workers at the Mill & newspaper reports about the gardens.
Colonel Teodor Benirski’s passion for gardening has had an enduring legacy on the landscape of the Mill.
Barbara Redding depicts a scene of just how colourful the gardens were:
“There was a lime tree in the upper garden, which was edged with roses. There was wisteria and lacecap hydrangea growing up the wall and a lovely magnolia. There was Virginia creeper growing up the west wall. It went red in autumn”
During this time, they were maintained by the gardener Bill Livesey. Inside the factory, there were window box planters on both floors, and the greenhouse contained a bird of paradise plant.
In the autumn, workers would also collect apples from the garden trees, and blackberries from the hedges during lunch break walks. These could be used to make fruit pies to share amongst the workers.
The Mill’s garden had a caravan that would occasionally house a new worker whilst they looked for somewhere to live. In the field to the side of the factory, there were three more caravans where workers lived.
Newspaper Report on the Environment of the Mill. Photo of man fishing (top), Josef Rodowicz with the beehive (bottom left), and Gardener Bill Livesy (bottom right)
Luneside Engineering had their own beehives that were kept in the gardens. Colonel Teodor Benirski had the hives installed when he had been gifted them by a worker’s father. Since then, engineering and honey production worked side by side at the factory.
One of the Polish Engineers, Joe Rodowicz, who looked after his family’s bees as a child in Poland, led the beekeeping team. He remarked that their care was no easy feat, donning protective gear and occasionally having to use a forklift!
“Looking after the bees is a part of my duties – but it can be a dangerous job. Sometimes you need a helicopter to get them”
Other members of staff also took time out of their schedule to look after the hives. The factory owned specialist equipment to extract the honey which would be given to Luneside workers or sold in shops for a profit. It was so successful it became the meeting hub for other beekeepers across Northern Lancashire for monthly gatherings.
From floods to big freezes, Halton Mill has endured it all. Workers made the best of these extreme conditions, whether that be drinking a pint with flood water to their thighs or ice football on a frozen River Lune.