How family of 15's gigantic washing pile sparked invention of iconic gadget

Robert Haworth Tasker in the firm's warehouse
Robert Haworth Tasker in the firm's warehouse -Credit:Taskers

The story of one of Lancashire's best-known furniture firms started more than 125 years ago.

The creator and builder of the world’s first geared wooden roller wet clothes-wringing machine (the mangle) was master blacksmith Robert Tasker. He had a smithy in Back Union Street, which became part of Accrington Broadway. Robert and his wife Betty, a weaver, produced ten daughters and three sons so presumably, had an almost daily stack of dirty laundry, and so the mangle was born in around 1850.

Robert, who made the gates to the cemetery in Burnley Road, Accrington, which are still in use today, refused to patent his invention, saying: "God gives men brains to help his brother, not line his pockets”.


However, he and Betty did charge their neighbours one old penny a time to come to their house and use the machine. Robert's original mangle is on display at Towneley Art Gallery and Museum in Burnley.

Fast forward to 1893 with the birth of another Robert Tasker. After serving in World War One he re-joined the family's furniture business and Tasker's of Accrington eventually moved to bigger premises in Burnley Road.

Robert oversaw the firm's move to bigger premises in Burnley Road
Robert oversaw the firm's move to bigger premises in Burnley Road -Credit:Taskers

In 1953 Robert's son, also called Robert, took over the running of the family firm when his dad died. He was responsible for moving Taskers to Queen Mill in 1965.

Taskers moved away from being a wholesaler and the mill was converted into a direct-to-public showroom which it remains today. In 1984 his son, yet another Robert, took over as company chairman.

Taskers of Accrington
Taskers of Accrington -Credit:Taskers of Accrington

Robert Philip Tasker, who continues to run the company today, has overseen the firm becoming one of the most successful furniture retailer in the North West. Visitors to the showroom today are offered free coffee as they browse the extensive collection on site.