Lech and the Community

The importance of investment

Just as factories and points of interests can become the hub for money flowing in and out of a town or village nowadays, similar patterns can be found in the time of ‘Lech’. Under the leadership of both the Colonel and Eva, the company invested in its people, its building, its surroundings and its products. For example, the Colonel insisted that pleasant conditions made for happy workers. He worked with the community towards this goal, with the environment providing pleasant walks along the banks of the Lune thanks to well-kept gardens and the private boathouse.

Worker’s leisure in Halton

When Lech had successes, the workers of the company felt success too – and subsequently the wider community. One common pastime of the workers was visiting the Greyhound Pub, with photos showing the workers outside the Greyhound Pub, which continues to serve the people of Halton and Lancaster quality food and drink to this day. Photographs in the Mill’s archive depict a close-knit workforce bound together by a parental figure in either the Colonel or Eva. In one particularly cheery scene, workers are depicted skating along a frozen River Lune (please do not copy them!) 

Flowers outside the Mill building
Workers Iceskating on a frozen River Lune

Raising the standard

A key part of the Mill’s links to the community was raising the standard of living in the area. The annual ‘Lancashire Best Kept Village’ competition in 1982. Halton managed to capture three of the prizes, and of sixteen entries in the industrial site section, Luneside Engineering was chosen to be the standard bearer. The Mill was noted for its “immaculate and colourful gardens” and well-kept paintwork on the buildings themselves making for an all-round pleasant experience. Credit for the gardens was attributed to two men. Firstly, Bill Livesey who developed them for twenty years, making long term plans for productive and beautiful gardens. Secondly, Steven Pennington for keeping them in prime condition after Bill’s retirement. Well-kept gardens meant more than good looks to the community. They fostered a sense of pride in the hearts of Halton residents, and healthy competition with other Lancashire villages too!

A beautiful flower arrangement outside the mill

The downsides of being the centre of a community

Without doubt the Mill’s presence, and the company within, had a positive impact on Halton and wider Lancashire. But being a large part of such a small community can cause dramatic effects when times are tough. Two stories emphasise this well, firstly with the cancellation of the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) TSR-2 after government decided it was too costly. This left the Mill and the Colonel fighting for every single penny and every single job. There were over 90 employees when the firm was threatened in 1965. The second big challenge came with the recession of 1983 which saw government policy drive up the exchange rate, making imports cheaper and hitting factories like Halton Mill. As a sub-contracting company, Lech bear the brunt when companies begin to keep things in house or use labour abroad. Much like her father, Eva here faced 65 families depending on her leadership to eat.

<< Click here for information about the woman in charge of Halton Mill >>