THE tall tales told of East Lancashire cotton workers and Rivington’s ‘Chinese Gardens’ are set to take centre stage on this weekend’s edition of the BBC’s Countryfile programme.

Helmshore Mills provided the backdrop for a poetic War of the Roses as part of a segment for the TV programme, which is presented by John Craven.


And the ex-Newsround presenter and his production team also visited the Terraced Gardens at Rivington, introduced by soap king Lord Leverhulme and designed by Thomas H Mawson.

Heritage trust chairman Bryan Horman, who is involved in a £3.3million Heritage Lottery Fund bid for the Rivington location, first opened in 1948, said: “The fact that Countryfile has visited speaks volumes for their importance as a national historic and landscape treasure.”

Meanwhile, cartoonist Tony Husband, from Blackpool, and Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan investigate ‘tacklers tales’, which are on display at the Lancashire County Council-run Helmshore textile museum.

Jennifer Ingham, mills’ manager, said: “These tales were poems and stories that poked fun at mill tacklers, who were the men responsible for maintaining the machinery and making sure that looms operated smoothly.

“When things were going well, the tacklers spent much of their time sitting at their benches in the mill, and so gained a reputation for being lazy.

“The tacklers’ tales were told by the men and women who worked in the mills. They were written in the Lancashire dialect and form a unique part of the county’s industrial past.”

Later in the filming Ian pits his wits against Sid Calderbank, a Lancashire dialect poet from Euxton.

Jennifer added: “As well as being informative, filming with Countryfile was a lot of fun.

“Tony even drew a cartoon of me, which he called Spinning Jenny. It shows me standing at one of our spinning mules. I’ve framed it and it now has pride of place on my office wall.”

The Higher Mill at Helmshore was first constructed in 1789, dealing with wool and the later Whitaker’s Mill dates back to the mid-1800s, as a specialised cotton spinner.

Not only does it have a full-size version of Hargreaves’ Spinning Jenny, but a portrait of industrial pioneer Sir Richard Arkwright and a number of video presentations on the art of cotton weaving.