History of the Stalybridge Co-op (I.)

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THE lot of the workers at the end of the 18th century and in the early part of the 19th was a hard one.  In 1802 the first Factory Act was passed at the instance of Sir Robert Peel.  It was described as an Act "for the preservation of the health and morals of apprentices and others employed in cotton and other mills."  The immediate cause of the Bill was the fearful spread through the factory districts of Manchester of epidemic disease, owing to the over-work, scanty food, wretched clothing, long hours, bad ventilation, and overcrowding in unhealthy dwellings of the workpeople, especially the children.  The hours of work were reduced to 12 per day, but the Act did not apply to children residing near the factory in which they were employed, for they were supposed to be under the supervision of their parents.  In his "Industrial History of England." Mr. H. de B. Gibbins says: "We hear of children and young people in factories overworked and beaten as if they were slaves;" and Southey, writing in 1833, said of factory labour that the slave trade was mercy compared to it.

    To Robert Owen is due the credit of being the originator of co-operation.  He was born in 1771, at the commencement of the new system of industrial life.  The factory system took the place of the domestic, and the conditions of labour were entirely changed.  The people whose labour was rapidly displaced by machinery could not so rapidly adapt themselves to the new conditions, and there was deep poverty and severe suffering.  This was the problem that faced Robert Owen, and in an endeavour to solve it he spent his life.  He saw the danger lurking in the discontent of the people with regard to the apportionment of the wealth of the country, and he set himself to do what he could to avoid that danger.  He devoted his time, money, and energy to the education and welfare of the people from whom co-operators sprang, with the result that in later years it became very much easier to co-operate.  He had lived amongst the people, and knew what they suffered, and he made it his chief aim to ameliorate, as far as he could, their lot.  He suffered for his efforts; derision and scoffing came to him, but he never turned aside.

    After occupying situations in large drapery businesses, including one in St. Ann's Square, Manchester, and being a partner of a concern which made what were called mules, he became a manufacturer of fine yarn, first as an individual employer and afterwards as partner in a larger concern, and was regarded as one of the best judges of cotton in the market.

    How to get the most out of the machinery of Watt, Arkwright, Crompton, and others became the first consideration of the majority of the cotton manufacturers, and the factory system was pushed to extremes.  By means of the Factory Acts and in other ways much has been done to remove those evils, and the lot of the present-day mill worker is a happy one indeed compared with that of the worker in the same position in Owen's days.

    On the 1st January, 1800, he commenced operations as a cotton manufacturer at New Lanark, Scotland, and at once commenced an experiment for the improvement of the condition of the workers, his aim being not to he a manager of cotton mills only, but to change the circumstances by which the people were surrounded, and which were so injurious to them.  By the directions of Mr. Dale before him the pauper children working at the mills, who were in those clays brought in large numbers from other parishes and housed in sheds, had been well lodged, fed and clothed; but Owen decided that no more pauper children should be received.  He also determined that the village streets should be improved, and that better houses should be built to receive families to fill the places of the pauper children.  There was at that time little if any protection of the workers by the law, but Owen did so much for them that differences arose between his partners and him, who thought he was expending too great a portion of the profits in that direction.  He found a ruinous system of credit in operation, the small shopkeepers buying and selling on credit at high prices.  He opened stores; bought for cash and sold at cost, at a saving to the people, it is said, of 25 per cent.  The distrust of the workpeople was gradually removed, and when Owen, although he had to close the mills in consequence of the embargo placed by the United States on the export of raw cotton, paid them full wages for nearly four months, their complete confidence was gained.  In spite of the opposition of his partners, who were in two cases bought out, he had schools erected, and although the cost per child was about £2 per year, the parents were charged only 3s. per year, the firm paying the difference.  At twelve years of age the children could be sent into the works to contribute to the support of the family.  He met opposition not only from his partners, but from other factory owners, and even from the clergy, the latter seeming to think that his efforts in the direction of education were an interference in their province.  Others regarded the intellectual advancement of the workpeople as a political danger, and there was a risk of reform being denounced as an effort to upset the throne, attack property, and overthrow religion.  Lloyd Jones, the author of "The Life and Times of Robert Owen," says, however, that in the matter of education for the people Owen was successful beyond his most sanguine expectations, and that there is every reason to believe that his last partners were thoroughly satisfied with his management as an employer of labour and a maker of profit, the profit realised being more than the deed of partnership required.  The villagers presented a written address to the partners, thanking them for the many advantages enjoyed and expressing a desire that all cotton spinners might enjoy the same advantages.

    One of the strongest arguments for the existence of our co-operative movement is found in the opposition of Owen's partners to his efforts on behalf of the people.  The partners were so afraid that their profits might be reduced that they forced a dissolution of partnership.  Yet his management of the New Lanark Mills was so successful that, after paying 5 per cent on the capital employed, the net profit was at the rate of £40,000 a year.  What an immense amount of good for the people might have been done had that profit been devoted to the purposes of the many, instead of taken by the few.

    As showing the disinterestedness of the man, it may be mentioned that the meetings held in London for the fighting of the cause of the factory children cost him £4,000.  He purchased thirty thousand extra copies of papers containing the reports, and had copies sent to the ministers of all the parishes in the kingdom, and to all members of both Houses of Parliament.  It is related elsewhere that in 1829 there were established 130 co-operative societies, and that by the end of 1831, although the exact number cannot be given, there were about 250 societies.  The work of Robert Owen had prepared the way for their establishment, and although most of them went out of existence, they in turn had prepared the way for such societies as ours, on the Rochdale system.  As Lloyd Jones puts it, it constitutes a special claim on our gratitude that Robert Owen brought into practical activity for the public good the energies of the humblest and poorest to augment the vast popular power by which the present co-operative movement is sustained.  He laboured for the people; he died working for them; and his last thought was for their welfare.  He was laid to rest within a short distance of his birthplace, in 1858.

    In October, 1908, the Co-operative Wholesale Society held an exhibition at Newtown of co-operative productions, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Robert Owen.  A few years before appreciation in a tangible form had been shown.  Opposite the house wherein he was born stands a public library, and a tablet indicates that the Co-operative Union, acting on behalf of the societies of the country, was by far the largest donor to the building fund.  A portion of the building is dedicated to his memory, another tablet making that fact known.  Co-operators have also erected a memorial over the grave in Newtown churchyard, and it has been placed in the care of the local society by the Co-operative Union.




AS the life and work of Robert Owen had such an influence in the direction of co-operation as we know it, so, it is thought, should any history of the co-operative movement, whether in a town or over the world, include more than a passing mention of the later work of G. J. Holyoake.

    He was born in Birmingham on the 13th April, 1817, in days of social ferment.  A commercial panic had reduced his parents from comparative comfort to anxious privation.  His mother was a deeply religious woman, and brought up the boy very carefully.  At the Sunday School he was considered so extremely pious that he was called "The angel child."  He began his business career in days when labour was absolutely at the mercy of capital, and when it was almost a social misdemeanour for a working man to take an active part in politics.  Before he was seven years of age he worked in a business conducted by his mother, and at nine he commenced regular work as a whitesmith.  The impression he received while working at the foundry, of the petty tyranny of masters and the apathy and helplessness of workmen, played no small part in shaping his career.  He came under the influence of Robert Owen in 1837, and in consequence of the bitterness of the clergy towards Owen and those who held his views, and because of their accusations of heresy, was led to taking sides with free-thought.  During the same year he began his advocacy of co-operation.  With three fellow students of the Mechanics' Institute he formed a small Utopian community, and they all four lived together in an "associated house."  What these young men advocated on a large scale they sought to practise on a small one, on the principle that one should do what one could, when unable to do what one would.

    Mr. Holyoake associated with the Chartists immediately after the passing of the Reform Bill, when he was but 15 years of age; but, although a Chartist and frequently acting with the party, he never joined in their war upon the Whigs.  He even published a criticism of Chartism, in which he suggested that violent action was altogether unnecessary, and he became an exponent of the best aspirations of the working classes.  He became an uncompromising foe of churches and churchmen, and that attitude was mainly due to the relentlessness with which the Church persecuted unfriended free-thought, and the harsh legality by which it gathered taxes from the very poor of the parish in which he lived.  One of his earliest memories was of a time when his parents were struggling to keep the wolf from the door and his little sister fell dangerously ill, sadly needing all the nourishments that could be afforded.  The money laid aside for the church rate or Easter dues had to be expended on suitable food for the sick child.  Within a few days the rector issued a summons, and dreading the possible warrant of distraint, such as had been served upon a neighbour, the mother took the money herself, none of the children being old enough, to pay the dues.  She was kept waiting at the court five or six hours until the case was called, and when she returned the child was a corpse.  So very dear was this young sister to him that from the moment of her death he unconsciously turned his heart to methods of secular deliverance.  Mr. Holyoake has been described as an atheist; Mr. C. W. F. Goss, author of the admirable bibliography of the writings of G. J. Holyoake, says he was not an atheist, although he was wholly for the right of atheism, or any other opinion that appealed to reason to be heard.

    In 1845 the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows offered five prizes of £10 each tor five new lectures on Charity, Truth, Knowledge, Science, and Progression, to be read to members of the order in taking successive degrees.  There were 79 competitors, some of them clergymen, and Mr. Holyoake, taking for his motto "Justitia Sufficit," was awarded the whole of the five prizes.  The lectures were sanctioned by the Bristol A.M.C. in June, 1840, and published.  They are still used.

    He was one of the most earnest advocates of the repeal of the taxes on knowledge.  One of his experiences was to be sued by the Government for publishing newspapers on unstamped paper.  Early in the 'thirties the price of a newspaper was 7d., including the 4d. revenue tax.  In 1836 it was reduced by 3d, and in 1840 Mr. Holyoake became one of the active and enterprising members of an association formed to secure the exemption of the Press from all taxation.  Each copy of a paper sold without a stamp involved a fine of £20 and possible imprisonment, and it is said that he incurred penalties to the extent of £600,000.  The Treasury authorities appealed to Mr. Gladstone, whose reply was that he knew Mr. Holyoake's object was not to break the law but to test it, and who shortly afterwards repealed the taxes which fettered the Press.  The repeal of the Act caused the prosecution to be abandoned.

    The first part of the history of co-operation in Rochdale, 1844-1857, written by Mr. Holyoake, was issued in 1858 under the title "Self-Help by the People."  The book was reproduced in every European language, while in England it was the seed from which sprang 250 co-operative societies in two years.  Later a second part was added, and the whole published in one volume entitled "History of the Rochdale Pioneers."  This has been reprinted three times, the last issue being dated 1907.

    In 1868 he became editor and joint proprietor of the Social Economist, which was, with true co-operative spirit, suspended in order that the Co-operative News might be the collective organ of co-operation.

    His greatest literary work for the movement, however, is the "History of Co-operation," commenced in 1873.  The first volume was published in 1875 and the second in 1879.  A revised and completed edition was published in 1906 by T. Fisher Unwin.  Mr. Holyoake wrote the history of the great Leeds Industrial Co-operative Society, a society of 48,000 members, which completed its fiftieth year in 1897.  In that book he writes: "I knew co-operation when it was born.  I stood by its cradle.  In every journal, newspaper, and review with which I was connected I defended it in its infancy when no one thought it would live.  For years I was its sole friend and representative in the press."  At the advanced age of 85 he performed the ceremony of unveiling a monument over the grave of Robert Owen in Newtown churchyard.

    In 1902 Mr. Holyoake defended the cause of co-operation against the private traders.  The traders had adopted their boycotting tactics in St. Helens and other towns, in many cases getting people dismissed from employment solely because they were members of co-operative societies, and he wrote a series of ten papers for the Co-operative News in answer to the tradesmen's arguments.  They were afterwards published in a volume entitled "Anti-boycott Papers."  He was a close friend of such men as Garibaldi, Emerson, John Bright, Richard Cobden, John Stuart Mill, W. E. Gladstone, and many others.  His personal qualities were honesty, love of truth, charity, sympathy, unvarying good nature, and fairness towards his fellows and towards his foes.  Mr. Cobden said he was the man to say the most unpleasant thing in the least unpleasant way.  Almost the whole of his life he laboured for the cause of social reform and to ameliorate the condition of his fellows, and as an advocate for co-operation he helped to bring greater comfort and happiness to the operative classes and to provide working men with better homes, better wages, better food, and better opportunities for the educating of their children.  He died in 1906.

    There was a unanimous resolution at the Birmingham Congress in 1906, that the life and work of the late G. J. Holyoake and his services to the co-operative movement be perpetuated by a building bearing his name, to be erected as a habitation for the headquarters of the movement, in which facilities may be found for carrying on all kinds of work for the spread of co-operative ideals.  On May 12th, 1908, more than the sum asked for had been promised, societies totalling 2,332,754 members having undertaken to contribute £24,667.

    The last rites were observed at the Crematorium at Golders Green on Saturday, January 27th, 1906, and every public movement with which Mr. Holyoake had been actively associated paid its tribute of respect.  A memorial sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Clifford described Mr. Holyoake as a soldier of freedom, one fitted to take his place in the great company of the prophets of freedom and the apostles of liberty.  He (the preacher) had no hesitation in placing him in the ranks of that great succession where they found Moses, who led the people into the land of promise, and of Judas Maccabaeus, with the hammer of God that broke in pieces the tyranny of monarchs.  He was in line with English leaders — Alfred, who fought against the oppression of the Danes, and Cromwell, who fought against tyranny in the name of religion.  He had freed the press; he was a soldier of liberty.  Joseph Cowen had said, with reference to the people who talked glibly about his religion, that he knew Christian people who would not go across the street to help another, but that Mr. Holyoake would go to any trouble to do a kindness.  In fact, he was a much better Christian than many who made a loud profession of religion.  "By their fruits ye shall know them."

Thou glorious Titan, art thou gone at last?
    Shall the embattled peal thy name no more?
    Must the majestic spirit that of yore
Made thy young heart a home be now outcast?
Ah, never! with thy passing hath not passed
    The Truth eternal that thou suffer'dst for.
    Never again shall clang the iron door
Thy bleeding hands thrust open and held fast.
    Servant of man, well done!   The great unborn
Shall thunder forth thine honour in that light
    Whose radiant and unutterable morn
Thy life hath hastened over Freedom's night.
    And o'er the upward pathway thou hast worn
Thy steadfast name shall blaze, a star of might.

EDEN PHILLPOTTS, in the Tribune.

February, 1906.




MR. HOLYOAKE defines co-operation as "voluntary concert, with equitable participation and control among all concerned in any enterprise."  As the same author says, it has been common since the commencement of human society in the sense of two or more persons uniting to attain an end which each could not attain singly.

    Mr. Owen had pointed out that one oven might suffice to bake for a hundred families with little more cost and trouble of attendance than a single household involved, and set free a hundred fires and a hundred domestic cooks.  Co-operative laundries were unknown in his days, but he suggested that one commodious wash-house and laundry would save one hundred disagreeable, screaming, steaming, toiling wash days in the homes of the people.  And so could one large shop supersede twenty smaller shops and effect an enormous saving in administration.

    As a result of Robert Owen's activities many societies, originally called union shops, were formed.  At the end of 1820 the number of societies was 130; in 1831 they had increased to 250; and two years later there were 400.  They divided profits, not according to purchases, but as interest on capital.  The first co-operative shop known in England was that of a tailoring society in Birmingham in 1777, and the second a store at Mongewell, Oxfordshire, in 1794.

    Amongst others, in a list of early societies and their dates of establishment, the following local names appear: — Ashton, 1838; Broadbottom, 1831; Hyde, between 1830 and 1833; Macclesfield, 1829; Mottram, about 1830; Mossley, about 1830; and Stockport, 1839.

    Most of the 400 societies referred to went out of existence, some for want of legal protection against unscrupulous members, others from the apathy of members and the fact that working people had not acquired the habit of association.  The Combination Laws, consolidated in 1799 and 1800, regulated the price of labour and the relations between masters and workmen, and prohibited the latter from combining for their own protection.  They were repealed in 1825.

    It was left to the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844 to inaugurate a new era.  The principle of dividend on purchases was in operation with a society at Meltham Mills, near Huddersfield, as early as 1827.  It is also claimed to have been recommended by Mr. Alexander Campbell at Glasgow in 1822, and at Rochdale in 1840.  It is believed, however, that the idea was separately originated by Mr. Charles Howarth, one of the 28 pioneers of Rochdale.

    A few days before Christmas, 1843, a few poor weavers, out of work and almost without food, met to discuss their condition and to make an effort to better it.  They would become merchants and manufacturers on their own account.  A subscription list was handed round, and a dozen of those present promised a weekly contribution of 2d. each.  Three collectors called at the homes of the members for the subscriptions, walking miles for the collection of a few shillings.  Other meetings were held; it was decided to open a co-operative provision store, and their society was registered as the "Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers" on the 24th October, 1844.  The ground floor of a warehouse in Toad Lane was taken; Mr. William Cooper was appointed cashier his duties were very light at first, says Mr. Holyoake, and Mr. Samuel Ashworth became salesman.  The stock consisted of infinitesimal quantities of flour, butter, sugar, and oatmeal, of a total value of about £14.  On the 21st December, 1844, they commenced business.  A few of the co-operators, continues Mr. Holyoake, had clandestinely assembled to witness their own dιnouement and there they stood, like the conspirators under Guy Fawkes in the Parliamentary cellars, debating on whom should devolve the taking down of the shutters.  One bold fellow rushed at it, and in a few minutes Toad Lane was in a titter, the "doffers" ventilating their opinions at the top of their voices and calling "Aye! th' owd weavers' shop is opened at last."  A few women went in to ask for things they knew they could not get, just to look round and be able to report to others on the commodities for sale and at the bareness of the shelves.  It was declared that the shop would not be open a week.

    But those pioneers had their reward.  It remained open, and soon they were in a position to pay interest on capital and dividend on purchases.  To what great things has that two-penny subscription led.  From that timid beginning they have gone on until their members number 16,000, with a share capital of £314,000.  They employ 370 people, pay £23,000 a year in wages, and their sales for a year amount to £350,000.




There's a moan on the gale, there's a cry in the air,
"Tis the wail of distress, 'tis the sigh of despair;
All silent and hushed is the factory's whirl,
And famine and want their black banner unfurl
Where the warm laugh of childhood is hushed on the ear,
And the glance of affection is met by the tear;
Where hope's lingering embers are ready to die,
And utterance is chok'd by the heartbroken sigh.

From " A Visit to Lancashire in December, 1862,"

THE supply of cotton from North America nearly ceased in consequence of the secession of the Southern States from the Union in 1860-61.  At the beginning of the latter year the prospect seemed to the operatives so bright that they pressed for an advance in wages.  In March there was a turn-out of weavers at several mills.  Somewhat suddenly the American Civil War broke out, and at once it was realised that the mills must close for want of cotton unless the war came to an end soon.  The weavers returned to work after a brief struggle, but the war continued and the mills were run short time.  Some were closed altogether, and the operatives, with aching hearts, became unwilling recipients of relief.  "Short commons and long faces," said one, were his recollections of the "panic."  "I wur nobbut a lad at th' time, but I'd a lad's keen feelin's, especially in certain vital parts.  I wur punced through th' panic, I wur."

    So scarce did employment become that in the winter of 1862-3 nearly 7,000 of 11,484 operatives usually employed were out of work, and a large number of those employed were on short time.  Of 39 cotton manufactories, 24 foundries and machine shops, and three bobbin turning shops in the town, only five were employed full time with all hands; 17 full time with a reduced number of hands; 34 on short time; and seven were stopped.  A gigantic system of relief was organised in the town, and it is said that more than three-fourths of the population became dependent.  The cotton operatives were not so well organised as now, and what little they had saved was soon exhausted.  Contributions of money, immense quantities of clothing, and cloth for making up flowed in from all parts of England.  To provide food for the distressed people orders on grocers in the town were issued.  To clothe them the garments received from various parts were distributed, and the tailors of the town were employed by the relief committee to make up the cloth.  When that work was done many of the tailors went to the workhouse, some to repair the clothing of the inmates, and some to become inmates themselves.  The Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Hoare started a school in the Albion Mills, employing a tailor to teach the men who attended to mend their own clothing.  Another considerate action of Mr. Hoare's was to forego his fees for marriages solemnised at St. Paul's.  Mr. James Buckley, of Buckley and Newton's, was a generous helper.  It is said that he told the people, "You'll never starve so long as you have plenty of bacon and potatoes," and he gave large quantities of those comestibles.  About the beginning of 1863 our society distributed quantities of stew from the butchering department.

    Mr. B. Worth had the shop at the end of Castle Street.  On one occasion a mob of half-famished people went for it, but Mr. Worth was prepared.  He announced that if they would come at ten o'clock the next morning he would distribute 200 loaves.  The crowd passed on; at the appointed time the loaves were thrown from the windows and caught by the people.

    Sewing schools were opened for the women and girls, who were paid for attending, and instructed in dressmaking and other sewing work each afternoon, and in ordinary school subjects in the morning.  These are referred to in Sam Laycock's "Sewin' Class Song"—

Come, lasses, let's cheer up an' sing;
    It's no use lookin' sad;
We'll mak' our sewin' schoo' to ring,
    An' stitch away like mad.
We'll try an' mak' th' best job we con
    O' owt we han to do;
We read, an' write, an' spell, an' keawnt,
    While here at th' sewin' schoo'.

Sin th' war began, an' th' factories stopped,
    We're badly off, it's true,
But still we needn't grumble,
    For we'n noan so mich to do;
We're only here fro' nine to four,
    An' han an hour for noon;
We noather stop so very late,
    Nor start so very soon.

    One rather humorous local incident may be remembered by some readers.  Mr. Bates' mill in Castle Street was used as one of the relief stores.  A man stationed at the door for the purpose of regulating the applicants had a way of issuing the command "Hook it!" to any applicant who became importunate.  The expression stuck to the man the rest of his life, and after his death people were asked, "Do'st know 'Hook-it's' dead?"

    Another, a retired army sergeant, marched out numbers of the unemployed men and put them through exercises; anything to keep them occupied.

    The decision of the relief committee to issue tickets instead of money resulted in the "Bread Riots."  The great excitement commenced on the morning of Thursday, March 19th, 1863, when the executive committee sent word to the schools that relief would be given by ticket at the rate of 3s. a week, but that a day in hand would be kept.  The scholars objected.  They contended that they ought to receive their "wages" in money and to the full amount, or attend what they termed the labour test certain hours per week less.  The tickets were refused, and a vast crowd congregated around Castle Street Mill.  The windows of a cab in which Mr. Bates and Mr. J. Kirk were riding had its windows smashed, portions of the mill machinery were broken, and missiles were thrown at the police, who had turned out under the superintendence of Mr. Wm. Chadwick, chief constable.  The officers were quite overpowered by the mob, which numbered hundreds.  Much damage was done to shops in Market Street, particularly those occupied by Mr. Brierley, the druggist, and Mr. Dyson, the eating-house keeper, and the shopkeepers were soon busy putting up their shutters.  The animus of the mob seemed to be directed, however, toward the more prominent members of the relief committee.  At Mr. Bates' house, in Cockerhill, windows were broken and many valuable pieces of furniture destroyed, even young women joining in the wanton destruction.  From there the mob turned again to Market Street, Melbourne Street, and Caroline Street.  Every window of the Central Relief Committee rooms in Melbourne Street was smashed.  At the shop of Mr. Ashton, another member of the relief committee, bottles, canisters, and groceries were thrown about and destroyed savagely.  There was also an onslaught on our society's drapery department in Caroline Street, but the mob desisted when it was found that the shop was not Mr. Ashton's property.  Two adjoining shops were used as relief stores.  They were quickly broken open, and a scene more disgraceful perhaps than any other enacted.  Piles of clothing and cloth were hurled out of the upper windows to the people in the street.

    A cry was raised that the soldiers were coming, but amidst laughter from the mob it was declared to be only a woman in a red cloak, and the work of destruction went on, several things being wantonly set on fire, until, a little after half-past five, a company of the 14th Hussars from the Ashton Barracks, under the command of Captain Chapman, appeared in sight.  The soldiers galloped along flourishing their swords, and every one in the crowd looked to his or her personal safety.  Some of those still in the store, in attempting a hasty retreat, fell at the entrance; others behind were thrown upon them, and there the people lay, five or six deep, male and female, when the soldiers reached them.  The police were almost as soon as the Hussars, and some who had created such havoc were easily captured.  Amidst the hooting and yelling, Mr. D. Harrison read the Riot Act, and the troops proceeded to clear the streets.  To escape detection some of the plunderers burned the clothing; others threw it into the canal and the river Tame, and various articles of wearing apparel could be seen for some time floating on the water.  Special constables were sworn in, armed with sabres, and arrangements were made for the calling in of fifty of the Cheshire police force should their services be required.  Under the protection of the military the police visited certain parts of the town, where they found large quantities of the stolen clothing, and many more people were taken into custody.  At 10 o'clock the soldiers were called off and the town was left to the guardianship of the police and special constables.  When the prisoners were brought before the magistrates they were admonished by Mr. David Harrison (chairman) and Mr. John Cheetham.  It was a most disgraceful thing, they were told, that after so much had been done for the people the benefactors should be turned upon and abused as they had been.  Mr. Bates, for instance, had opened his door to the people, and this was the return they had made for his kindness.  He (Mr. Cheetham) had been speaking publicly in London, within a fortnight, of the high character he thought they had won for their patience and forbearance under their trials.  He felt it deeply; he felt that they had not only alienated the people at a distance, but had disgraced the town.  Many of the prisoners were committed to Chester for riot.  There was further resistance to the police and military when two omnibuses appeared for the purpose of conveying the prisoners to the railway station to take train for Chester, brickbats and other missiles being thrown.  The people vowed that they would have something to eat before they went to bed, and would "clem" no longer.  Prisoners to the number of 29 were placed in a separate railway carriage and left the station amidst loud cheering.  Twice the cavalry rode through the mob, creating the greatest consternation, and a company of infantry marched the streets with fixed bayonets, but little personal injury was done.  On one or two occasions blood was drawn; the sight of it had a great effect on the crowd, and order was restored.

    In the spring and summer of 1865 a few more hands were employed in the mills.  When the panic was at its height there were, it is said, 730 houses and shops empty, and in October, 1866, there were still 620.  It was estimated that before the panic had lasted two years about 1,000 persons had emigrated, and from 1861 to 1866 the population had decreased by 2,000.  At the height of the distress there was the extraordinary spectacle of 84 persons emigrating to Australia in a body, headed through the town by a band of music, with flags flying and thousands of people cheering.

    Mr. William Cooper, referred to elsewhere as the first cashier of the Rochdale Pioneers, wrote to Mr. Holyoake that Stalybridge, Ashton, Mossley, Dukinfield, Hyde, Heywood, Middleton, and Rawtenstall had suffered badly, being almost entirely cotton manufacturing towns, but that none of the stores had failed, so that, taken altogether, the co-operative societies in Lancashire were as numerous and as strong after the cotton panic as before it set in.  Mr. Cooper wrote of Manchester at the same time rather contemptuously, that it was good for nothing then except to sell cotton.  Bnt even Manchester, he said, had created a Manchester and Salford store, maintained for five years an average of 1,200 members, and made for them £7,000 of profit.  What would Mr. Cooper think now, we wonder, of the same Manchester and Salford store, with its 18,000 members?

    In 1852 Mr. T. Bazley warned the country of the danger of trusting to America alone for cotton.  In I857 there was formed the Cotton Supply Association, with our townsman, the late John Cheetham, M.P., as president.  The scheme had its inception in the fears of a portion of the trade that some dire calamity must sooner or later overtake the cotton manufacture of Lancashire if it were left to depend upon the treacherous foundation of slave-labour as the main source of its raw material.  The association established agencies in various countries, and distributed large consignments of cotton seed and preparatory machinery, but the scheme did not meet with the support it deserved.

    In May, 1862, Mr. Bazley stated that through the failure of the American supply the loss to the labouring classes was £12,000,000 a year, and estimated the loss including the employing classes at nearly £40,000,000 a year.  In the Lancashire district — population about 4,000,000 — there were receiving parish relief, September, 1861, 43,500 persons; in September, 1862, 163,408.  The Union Relief Act, passed August, 1862, gave much relief by enabling overseers to borrow money to be expended in public works executed by the unemployed workmen.  In October, 1864, much distress still existed, and fears for the approaching winter were entertained.  At that time, it was stated in the Times of 18th January, 1865, there were 90,000 more paupers than ordinary in cotton districts.  In June, 1865, a special commissioner appointed in May, 1862, was recalled by the Poor Law Board, and the famine was declared ended.  £1,000,000 had been expended in two years.  The executive of the central relief fund held their last meeting on the 4th December, 1865.





F.R.S. and LL.D.
Can only spring from A B C.

— Eliza Cook.

WHAT is described in the society's records as the preliminary meeting was held on the 7th March, 1859, but Mr. Charles Wright, of Manchester and Salford Society, carries us back six days to the first of that month.  He points out that the Co-operator, a monthly journal of the period, of August, 1860, gives an account of a meeting on the earlier date.  Eleven persons were present, and they met "to discuss the practicability of opening a store where the working man's wife might purchase with safety and advantage those articles of consumption which are daily required in the homes of working men."  A copy of the rules of the Rochdale Pioneers was sent for and adapted to local circumstances.

    On the first meeting night twenty-two £1 shares were taken up.  No names are given, and there is some uncertainty as to the identity of those present; but what appears to be the first share ledger has been traced, and it shows that the numbers 1 to 22 were allotted as follows :—

1 Alexander Maxwell

12 Henry Bradley

2 Ambrose Jackson

13 John Shaw

3 Dan Woolley

14 Jonathan Blacker

4 John Peacock

15 Charles Rodgers

5 Thomas Baxter

16 Jerry Ratcliffe

6 Thomas Phillips

17 Joseph Woolhouse

7 Charles Gaskill

18 John Dearnaley

8 William Haynes

19 John France

9 Henry Pool

20 Devenport Davis

10 Joseph Edgar

21 John Holding

11 Johanan Booth

22 Hiram Ratcliffe

Following these, there were admitted as members :—

23 John Bradbury

46 William Simpson

24 William Harrison

47 Benjamin Hurst

25 Thomas Ellis

48 Henry Sheppard

26 Thomas Hornby

49 Joseph Swift

27 Thomas Lockwood

50 Arnold Rowbottom

28 James Heywood

51 John Whiteley

29 Joshua Allsop

52 John Beswick

30 John Langford Porter

53 John Cocker

31 Daniel Marsland

54 James Haughton

32 Joseph Bailey

55 Charles Haughton

33 Abel Frederick Wood

56 John Miller

34 John Hassall

57 Nancy Hassall

35 Martha Norminton

58 Joseph Allen, sen.

36 John Holt

59 Charles Marsland

37 Robert Winterbottom

60 George France

38 Mary Moss

61 John Duffy

39 Joseph Allen, jun.

62 Charles Jones

40 William Greenwood

63 Edward Booth

41 Joshua Hill

64 William Campbell

42 James Cook

65 James Kenworthy

43 William Howarth

66 William Brougham

44 John Cheetham

67 Giles Hinchcliffe

45 George Woodhead

68 Samuel Platt


69 Thomas Jones

86 Joseph Roebuck

70 John Ridgway

87 John Marsden

71 Thomas Lee

88 Henry Clayton

72 Joshua Andrew

89 Samuel Lowe

73 Joseph Hill

90 Abraham Lawton

74 William Banton

91 Bradburn Cocker

75 George Kay

92 Ratcliffe Buckley

76 John Smith

93 James Cooper

77 William Lowe

94 George Barker

78 James Kay

95 Henry Langley

79 Hugh Kenworthy

96 John Jones

80 John Thorp

97 David Hastings

81 Joseph McQuire

98 Charles Deakin

82 George Kiddy

99 Thomas Haslam

83 William Haynes, sen.

100 Josiah Rigby

84 John Eastwood

101 James Mitchell

85 James Lee

102 Samuel Sykes

    There were some alterations of the machine paging of the ledger in which these names appear, hence there is some uncertainty as to the numbers; but all the names appear in the order and under the numbers given, and all are those of members admitted during 1859 and 1860.  They are detailed here because they appear to be what may be called original members, that is, first holders of the share accounts so numbered.

    One of the early share accounts had been closed and balanced, apparently for withdrawal, and either the member had changed his mind or it was found that the entries were intended for another account.  For some reason the ledger folio bears the remark, "account closed wrongfully," and shows that the account was reopened, an instance of the strong language inadvertently used by some people.  Clearly, the book-keeper who wrote the remark meant, not that a wrong had been done, but that there had been a slight error.

    The first minute book is still in existence, and it is recorded that the following resolutions were carried at the meeting held 7th March, 1850:—

1.    That the shares be £1 each, and that the subscription be 1s. per week.

2.    That no member have less than one share, nor more than five shares;

3.    That Johanan Booth be treasurer and Thomas Baxter secretary for the time being.

4.    That the contributions be brought to the house of James Cook every Monday fortnight, betwixt the hours of seven and nine of the clock.

5.    That every member who is six weeks in arrear be fined threepence, and if three months in arrear be excluded, except sufficient cause be shown to the committee why they or he should not.

6.    That the following members form the committee:— Charles Gaskill, Daniel Woolley, Ambrose Jackson, William Haynes, Alexander Maxwell, Joseph Edgar.

7.    That 1,000 handbills be printed, and that A. Maxwell and Thomas Phillips see that they be printed.

8.    That the committee meet on Wednesday night, March 9th, for the purpose of drawing up a handbill for delivery among the public.

(Signed) THOMAS BAXTER, Secretary.
                    JOHANAN BOOTH, Chairman,

    There were also present at this meeting Henry Pool and John Peacock.  Thus, assuming that the others named in the resolutions — six forming the committee, and Messrs. Booth, Baxter, Cook, and Phillips — were all present, there would be a total attendance of twelve persons.

    Other members admitted during 1859 were:—

John Barmford

Michael O'Donnel

Richard Bentinck

Frederick Brown

George Rainforth

Betty Dearnaley

Joseph Sykes

Edward Davis

Henry Dyson

Augustus Ball

John Crossley

James Hill

James Hallam

Ann Chadwick

George Rushton

John Lyttle

Henry Hurst

Ben Platt

William Wood

James Lomas

Harriet Sykes

Randal Cheetham

    Mr. James Bamford, of Huddersfield Road, became a member in 1859, before the society was registered.  The writer learned from him that the movement originated at Messrs. Harrison's mill.  Mr. Bamford says the mill and a beerhouse in Harrop Street joined; the latter was the house of James Cook, referred to in the fourth resolution of the March 7th meeting.

    Mr. Baxter's inquiry for a form of declaration brought forth from the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers' Co-operative Society a reply addressed from Nos. 8, 16, and 31, Toad Lane, March 12th, 1859, offering to get made a declaration and proposition book, arranged to conform to the Stalybridge rules.  Our Rochdale friends had paper printed and partly ruled ready for the making up of such a book.  They had also a wholesale department for supplying goods to other societies.  In a letter dated May 25th they expressed pleasure at the progress-making at Stalybridge, and thought business might be commenced in a small way before November or December.  Many of the letters at this time were addressed to Mr. Baxter, 30, Wakefield Road, Stalybridge.

    At the meeting held March 9th, 1859, the secretary was instructed to write to Rochdale for a form of declaration to make members, and was empowered to buy the books that were necessary to record the minutes and to keep the accounts.  The entrance fee was fixed at one shilling per share.

    The first general meeting was held March 21st, 1859.  John Bradbury, John France, and Johanan Booth were elected trustees, and William Haynes and Joseph Woolhouse money stewards.  At the same meeting it was resolved that any officer being absent after 7 o'clock on any meeting night be fined three-pence, to go to the incidental expenses fund.

    At a meeting held April 4th, 1859, a committee composed of John France, Charles Rodgers, Thomas Ellis, Jonathan Blacker, Thomas Hornby, and James Heywood was formed to revise the rules.  Three days later the contribution was reduced from a shilling to sixpence per week, and it was decided that dividend on purchases should be paid to non-members.  On the 21st April it was resolved that a member be allowed ten shares instead of five, and on the 9th May this was further extended to twenty shares.  At the same meeting Johanan Booth was authorised to take up five shares of the Rochdale Corn Mill Society, and the rules passed by John Tidd Pratt, Esq., Registrar of Friendly Societies, were adopted.  The Registrar's certificate reads—

"I hereby certify that these rules are in conformity to law and to the provisions of the Statute 15 and 16, Vict. c. 31, relating to Industrial and Provident Societies.
                                                                                  "JOHN TIDD PRATT,
                                                                       "The Registrar of Friendly Societies
"Copy kept.                                                                    in England.
"J. Tidd Pratt.                                                                              "9th June, 1859."

    Premises in Water Street, then in the occupation of Mr. Joshua Crowther, were taken on the 16th May, 1859, and in September Messrs. France and Edgar were appointed to go to Mr. Crowther to bargain for whatever he might have to dispose of that would suit the purposes of the society.  It was decided that the words "Stalybridge Co-operative Stores, enrolled under Act of Parliament," should be painted on the sign.

    The first record of the election of officers after the society was established in Water Street is dated 23rd June, 1859.  Thomas Baxter was appointed secretary for twelve months, and the following gentlemen were elected to other offices for the same period:—

Committee—Joseph Edgar, Thomas Ellis, Charles Gaskill, Joseph Woolhouse, Daniel Woolley, James Heywood, Jonathan Blacker, Joseph     Allen, and John Langford Porter.

Auditors — Alexander Maxwell and Joshua Allsop.

Trustees — John France, Abel Frederick Wood, and James Cook.

Treasurer — Johanan Booth.

Money Stewards — Robert Winterbottom and Joseph Bailey.

    At this meeting there were also appointed five Arbitrators: — Matthew Hutchinson, Tom Milburn, Frank Farrow, Robert Whitehead, and Nathan Pickering.

    The first reference to remuneration of an officer is under the date November 17th, 1859, when the secretary's salary was fixed at twenty-eight shillings per quarter as from November 1st.  Some months later the treasurer's salary was fixed at £5 per annum, and the persons who took stock were to have sixpence each for their trouble.

    In June and July, 1859, there were resolutions admitting "as fit and proper persons to be members of this society," Benjamin Hurst, Henry Sheppard, Joseph Swift, William Simpson, George Woodhead, Arnold Rowbottom, John Whiteley, and John Beswick.

    It is probable that about this time useful information was obtained from Rochdale and other towns.  Johanan Booth was requested to "make a bill of his expenses to and from Rochdale," and it was resolved that all the books of account be purchased from William Cooper, who was the first cashier appointed by the Rochdale Pioneers.

    James Heywood was appointed to go to Rochdale to glean whatever information he could from the store-keeper there, Charles Gaskill and Joseph Woolhouse to go to Dukinfield and Mossley to get information respecting their mode of conducting business, and Johanan Booth was appointed to represent the society at Mossley Society's tea party, which was held on Saturday, February 18th, 1860.

    Our pioneers were evidently for a time dependent for fixtures and utensils in trade on the former tenant of the shop, for it was resolved — "That we put ourselves in a state of independence as regards shop fixtures, and that Joseph Edgar and Johanan Booth are engaged by this committee (with power to add to their number) to make all the shop fixtures that are required.  That we have baywood tops to the counters."  About the same time Messrs. Heywood, Gaskill, and Ellis were deputed to go to Manchester to purchase scales, weights, canisters, &c., and they were to take a few pounds with them to be left on articles as deposits.  Later, Frank Farrow was sent to convey the scales, &c., to Stalybridge, and he was to take the money to pay for them.  A vote of thanks to Mr. Ellis was passed "for his exertions on behalf of this society at Manchester in getting discount off the articles bought at Sutcliffe's, canister manufacturer."

    On the 12th September, 1859, it was decided to advertise in the Ashton Reporter, Ashton Standard, and a Rochdale paper for a shopman, and that the security to be given by the shopman should be "£100 or two fifties."  On the 22nd that portion of the resolution referring to insertion in a Rochdale paper was rescinded.  The committee met October 11th to select a shopman from the applicants, and James Hyde was appointed at "26s. per week and sleeping room."  It was arranged that he should commence his duties on the 31st October, and the trustees were asked to look to the shopman for his security.  The "£100 or two fifties" was not forthcoming, and it was decided that the matter be referred to a guarantee society, the premium to be paid by the employers until the wages of the employed had been reconsidered.  This reconsideration took place in January, 1860, and the remuneration was increased to thirty shillings per week and four shillings for expenses.  Mr. Hyde and Mr. Baxter, the secretary, were to go together "to buy good groceries for and on behalf of this society," and William Leech was offered a situation as assistant at twelve shillings per week for a month.  It appears that Mr. Hyde lent money to the society, for in January, 1860, there was a resolution authorising payment to him of £1 for interest on money used for the society's purposes during the previous quarter.  It is evident, too, that Mr. Hyde gave good service, and that the committee appreciated.  On the 9th February, 1860, there was a resolution — "That James Hyde have a vote of thanks from this meeting for the efficient manner in which he has discharged the duties of his situation during the past quarter."

    In October, 1859, there was passed a resolution that the treasurer for the time being be allowed to sit on the committee and to vote on any question under discussion.  At the same meeting it was resolved "that we have checks" — the first reference to the method of keeping account of members' purchases — and the quantities of checks to be bought were 4,000 pence checks, 2,000 shilling checks, and 1,000 copper checks, with a set of figures.  About the same time it was decided that any person buying wholesale at the store, whether a member or not, should not have checks.

    A minute penned on the 27th October, 1850, is somewhat problematic.  It was resolved — "That we keep the first quarter's dividend among ourselves."  At first thought, this savours of a summary method of distributing the profits, but it may be that the resolution indicates merely a determination not to disclose details to outsiders by publication.  During the same month the secretary was instructed to write to Joseph Clarkson, tea dealer, Huddersfield, requesting him to send his representative with samples.

    It appears that during the very month in which the Stalybridge Society commenced business — indeed, a few days before the shop was opened — amalgamation with the Dukinfield Society was suggested.  It was decided on the 2nd November, 1859, that the matter be laid before the general meeting, and a vote of thanks to the Dukinfield Committee was passed; but, so far as the writer can gather, there was no development of the scheme.

    The first report of the committee has not been traced, but the second, pen-written, is in existence and is as follows:—

    Even at this early stage the committee had such confidence that they decided on the 10th November, 1859, to take the shop on a lease for fourteen years.  There were some willing helpers at shop-fitting and in other directions.  There was a vote of thanks to Mr. John Miller for the valuable services he had rendered the society in lending men and tools, and another to the joiners for the complete manner in which they had fitted up the shop and for their usefulness generally.  A few months later one member, who had £5. 0s. 9d. to his credit, found it necessary for some reason to withdraw.  He withdrew the pounds; the share ledger bears the remark opposite the balance of nine-pence — "Presented to reading room."  Every little helps, and doubtless the spirit that prompted the presentation of that nine-pence was appreciated.




Think naught a trifle, though it small appear;
Small sands the mountain; moments make the year;
A trifles life.

— Young.

BUSINESS in Water Street was commenced on the 11th November, 1859.  The writer's father remembers, as a tradesman, how the shopkeepers received the news.  They said: "They're startin' a co-op.; we me't as well shut up."  There was a capital of £210, held by 139 members.  The opening proved a great success, for at the close of the first week £84.10s. 2½d. had been taken over the counter.  Thomas Ellis was deputed to go to Richard Bentinck to get information respecting insurance premiums, and in December it was decided that the stock of groceries be insured in the Sun Fire Office for £500.

    From insurance the deliberations passed to pork, and it was resolved —"That Johanan Booth buy Edward Stanley's pig for this society."  At another meeting it was decided that no New Year gifts be granted to members or others.  At this time there were to be printed 2,000 copies of a notice and two dozen notice cards, the cards to announce that members must bring in their rule books and checks not later than the following Saturday, and Samuel Harrison was to have the preference for the printer's work if he could complete it in time.

    At this early period, too, butchering was essayed, and a sub-committee formed to look out a site or a building for a butcher's shop and slaughter-house.  The result of the inquiry was that there was taken a shop "at the top end of Caroline Street" for the sale of butcher's meat, and a slaughter-house belonging to the Foresters' Society in Vaudrey Street.  The butchering utensils of Henry Dyson and George Kay were bought, and Arnold Kay was appointed butcher to the society on the 3rd April, 1860, at a weekly wage, together with house and gas free.  The gas-fitting in the shop was to be done by James Smith, if he could do it in time.  At the same time the making of a hand-cart was placed in the hands of Frank Longden, and the painting and sign-writing was entrusted to Oliver N. Gatley, who was in business in Grosvenor Street where the Central premises are now situated.

    At this time a dividend of 9d. per £ was declared, and it was decided that the report should be printed.  Three hundred copies were to be obtained, and the printer's work was done by H. and S. Burgess, of Stalybridge and Ashton.  During the same year other printers' work was placed in the hands of Mrs. Cunningham.  There was an effort to find work for the members, a resolution being passed — "That the carriage of goods for the store be divided amongst the members alone, as far as possible."

    From the day of opening in Water Street to the end of the quarter — the society's third quarter, but the first open for the sale of goods — members increased daily, and the total sales were £1,132. 18s. 3d.  It appears, however, that consumers were not entitled to dividend on the whole of this, as a dividend at the rate of 9d. per £ was declared on £300 only.  The profit on some articles was precarious.  On sugar, for instance, no dividend was paid.  The report and accounts were as follows:—



JANUARY 31ST, 1860.

    Your committee feel great pleasure in issuing this their third quarterly report, showing the progress that has been made during the last quarter, and taking into consideration the difficulties that we have had to contend with feel assured that our efforts have not been in vain; the committee wish to impress upon all the members the necessity as far as practicable of dealing at the Society's store, being convinced that it is the only the source from whence profit will accrue to the members.

    Your committee has great pleasure in being able to give nine-pence in the pound on members' purchases this quarter, the first quarter that the Society's Store has been open, and hope and trust that the spirit of co-operation will cause each and all of the members to have that zeal and confidence in the society which cannot fail to have good results.


    Some of the early resolutions go into detail, and in others quaint expressions are used.  One on the 6th March, 1860, reads — "That the shelves required in the shop be put up, and that a saw be bought for the use of the shopman to saw bones."  Another on the same date is — "Moved by Charles Gaskill, seconded by Cook James vice versa, that the Act of Parliament relating to Friendly and Provident Societies be bought."  Another resolution appointed two members of the committee to go to the Temperance Room to look at some forms on sale there, and if they thought the articles worth the price, they were to buy them.  Still another reads — "That there be two books provided for the store, one to be called the petty cash book and the other to be called the inventory book, to put all the articles in that belong to the society;" and another — "That any member can have his money at sight if there is cash in hand that will pay him, unless the money be wanted for some uses of the society more urgent."  Not all the resolutions are so explicit, however.  One reads — "That one thousand summonses be obtained," but it is not stated whether they were summonses to a meeting or to a Court, nor on whom they were to be served.

    A sub-committee was appointed to look out a room for the society to hold its meetings in, and on the 12th April, 1860, the Foresters' Hall, in Vaudrey Street, was taken for the purpose.  About the same time there was taken a room in the Angel Inn yard, belonging to James Wilson, at the yearly rent of five guineas.  A dozen forms were to be made, and Joseph Edgar was to buy the table of John Marshall for the room.  Mr. W. Evans (once a member of the Stalybridge Town Council), who became a member of the society about October, 1859, remembers that the room was used as the society's office, whilst the Water Street shop was still used for sales.  He has a lively recollection of the long queue waiting to pay share contributions and take up their books.  Mr. Evans' first share book is still in his possession.

    In April, 1860, a sub-committee was appointed to inquire about the shop of Butterworth's in Caroline Street, with a view to taking it, if suitable, for drapery.  On the 17th April, John Marshall was appointed to fit up for drapery the shop No. 58, Caroline Street, and William Lowe was engaged to clean it.  An advertisement was inserted in the Manchester Guardian on the two following Saturdays, April 21st and 28th, for a "shopman draper," he was to be a married man and give security in £100.  The remuneration was fixed at 26s. per week for the draper himself and 8s. per week for his wife.  Four of the applicants were invited to meet the committee, their references were investigated, and on the 8th May James Frederick Keeley was appointed, to commence his duties on Monday, the 14th May, 1860.  The committee restricted him in his buying to three wholesale houses, those of Messrs. S. and J. Watts, Messrs. Thorp and Son, and Messrs. J. and N. Philips.  The stock and fixtures were shortly afterwards insured for £500 with the Sun Fire Office.  Mr. Keeley was not long employed.  On the 19th July, 1860, a Mr. Edwards was appointed draper, but the resolution was rescinded at the next meeting, and it was left to Mr. Hyde, who was appointed general manager at the same meeting, July 26th, to inquire for a draper.  At this point there is a gap in the records.  The minutes from 1860 to 1865 are missing.  It is known, however, that Miss Hampshire was employed in drapery in Caroline Street, and was still in the department when it was removed to Grosvenor Street; she followed Mrs. Rowbotham, wife of Mr. Henry Rowbotham, who was manager after Mr. Hyde left.

    A general meeting for the election of officers was held in the Foresters' Hall, Vaudrey Street, on the 1st May, 1860, and the following were elected:—

Committee — Thomas Ellis, Charles Gaskill, Daniel Woolley, Joseph Edgar, Joseph Allen, Joseph Woolhouse, George Kay, Alexander Maxwell, and James Heywood.

Trustees — John France, James Cook, and Robert Marsland.

Stewards — Joseph Bailey and Robert Winterbottom.

Auditors — Joshua Allsop and Bradburn Cocker.

Treasurer — Johanan Booth.

Secretary — Thomas Baxter.

Arbitrators — Matthew Hutchinson, Tom Milburn, Nathan Pickering, Robert Whitehead, and Frank Farrow.

    At this time the committee felt justified in employing the secretary whole time, and on the 10th May, 1860, the resolution passed on 17th November fixing the secretary's remuneration at 28s. per quarter was rescinded, and he was appointed at £1 per week to undertake the duties of secretary and to make himself generally useful.  He was asked to seek the advice of Mr. Occleshaw who was manager of the Stalybridge Branch of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company Limited, and on the 17th May it was decided to open an account with the District Bank.  A week later the trustees were requested to go to Mr. Noah Buckley, attorney, to have prepared an indenture between the society and Albert Newton, butcher's assistant, and on the 31st May it was arranged that the trustees should go to Mr. Wilson, Butterworth's agent, on the 12th June, "to see all things settled and right as regards the drapers' store and the stable behind for a slaughter-house."

    In June the same year it was resolved that one share be taken up in The Co-operator newspaper, published by the Literary Committee of the Co-operative Society, Great Ancoats Street, Manchester.  It is evident that the committee's attention to detail was great, for there was a resolution penned the same month that there be a slate bought for the use of the secretary, and another that a large ledger be bought for the purpose of keeping account of members' investments.  There is here what appears to be the first reference to the occupation of Grosvenor Street premises, Mr. Hyde being instructed to find a man for the branch store there.

    At the end of the fourth quarter there were 480 members, and the number of shares taken up was 1,500, 1,300 of which were fully paid.  The committee reported as follows:—

    We have now in connection with our store a butcher's shop, which kills weekly an ox, six sheep, one calf, one lamb, and occasionally a pig; which, considering the high price of flesh meat, we think pretty good.  We have also opened a shop for drapery, which took for goods sold £34. 10s. the first week, and promises to do well; for our wives and children are always wanting frocks, bonnets, &c., and I suppose we men-folks require shirts, &c.

    We may just mention that, through the jealousy and interference of the shopkeepers, and the fear of the landlords, we were nearly two months before we could get anyone to let us a shop; but these drawbacks only stimulated us the more when we got one, and we are now reaping the reward of our labour, for we forgot to mention that our dividend was 1s. 3d. in the pound, and last week we took in the grocery shop alone £203. 0s. 3d., to say nothing of the butchery and drapery.

    We are all working men; our treasurer is a joiner, and the secretary a blacksmith, though we have decided to take the latter away from the anvil, and put him to the business of our society.

    Our committee have decided to take up shares in the company for conducting your (or we would rather say our) journal; for we think it is a first-rate affair, and just the paper that ought to be placed in the hands of every working man.  We may say, in conclusion, that we intend very shortly inaugurating a newsroom and library, where our members can, free of charge, read and converse, and where solid instruction can be obtained.

    Mr. Charles Wright says, referring to this report, that it is very interesting to find that education was not lost sight of by our pioneers, and that they believed intelligence was a paying investment.




AT the end of June, 1860, there was held in the large room of the Foresters' Hall a tea party, the proceeds of which were to be devoted to the formation of the newsroom and library just referred to.  Upwards of 600 persons sat down to tea, which was amply provided by members of the society.  A brass band was in attendance, and the audience was delighted during the evening by select pieces of music at intervals.  After the tables had been cleared, the Mayor, Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom, Esq., took the chair amidst enthusiastic applause, and accompanying him on the platform were Moses Hadfield, Esq., J.P.; Mr. Abraham Greenwood, of the Rochdale Pioneers' Society; Mr, Edward Longfield, President of the Manchester and Salford Equitable Co-operative Society; and Mr. William Marcroft, one of the founders of the Oldham Industrial Society.  It was at Mr. Marcroft's that the first officially recorded meeting of that society was held.

    The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, said he took the chair with very great pleasure.  They were all aware of the object for which they had met, and therefore it would be unnecessary for him to go into it.   But, with reference to the co-operative societies in Manchester, Rochdale, and other places, he could say that they had attained very great success.  The formation of a library and newsroom in connection with the Stalybridge Co-operative Society was a noble achievement, and he could assure the audience that he wished the society every success and prosperity.  That was their first meeting, and he hoped it would not be the last; it was very well attended, and he hoped the next would be doubly so, and that their gatherings would keep on doubling.  There was nothing more beneficial than to be members of a good library.

    Mr. Hadfield then addressed the meeting.  He was glad, he said, to see the Mayor occupying the chair on that occasion.  He could not be better engaged in his official capacity, nor in a more worthy cause, for that, in his opinion, was an active endeavour on the part of the people to improve their condition, and he must congratulate the meeting on the numerous assembly that evening.  It augured well for the success of the society.  The history of the workers hitherto had been of a varied character, and they had been subject to many evils; but as society was progressing in the arts and sciences, the workers apparently were not behind the times.  That there was progress among them there could be no doubt, because he believed the Stalybridge Co-operative Society was composed of the most intelligent, the most industrious, and the most careful of the workers of Stalybridge.  There must be progress so long as this was the case, and it struck him that they must be successful in their endeavours.  That society had only been in existence about eight months, and it was doing a fair and favourable business, taking, he believed, about £101 per day.  The society had opened a butcher's and a draper's shop, and each was doing a good business.  But perhaps they owed their rapid progress in Stalybridge in a great measure to the noble and trustworthy individuals in Rochdale, who appeared to be the pioneers of the movement.  The people of Rochdale had gone through a great deal of up-hill work; they had proved the worth and practicability of co-operation; and he thought too much praise could not be given them.  Mr. John Bright had made the following statement in the House of Commons a short time before:—"The Rochdale Pioneers' Society was established in 1844, with 28 members and a capital of £28; at the end of 1859 it had 2,703 members and a capital of £27,060.  It had done a business during the year of £104,000, and had divided amongst its members a sum of £10,730.  Two-and-a-half per cent of the profits, amounting in the past year to £300, was deducted for the purchase of books, newspapers, &c., for the use of the members' reading-room.  The library contained about 4,000 volumes, and was increasing rapidly every quarter.  There was likewise a Sabbath School attached to the institution.  The working men of Rochdale established a corn mill in 1850.  In 1851 the capital was £2,103, and in that year it suffered a loss of £421, which sum was made up by subsequent profits before any division was made.  At the end of 1859 the capital of the corn Mill Society was £18,236, the business done £85,845, and the profit £6,115.  A co-operative manufacturing society had been established in Rochdale, consisting of 1,600 members with a capital of £50,000."  Now, considering the success which had attended the labours of the Rochdale Pioneers, he (Mr. Hadfield) did not see anything to prevent the Stalybridge Society going on in a similar manner.  The town was favourably situated, and the people received as good wages as in any other part of England; therefore, in the hands of the energetic and hard working people whom he saw before him, he thought the progress of the Stalybridge Society might be even more rapid than that of the Rochdale Pioneers.  It was a little over twelve months since the first eleven Stalybridge co-operators met and established that society, and they had continued to meet fortnightly up to that time, and with considerable success.  On the 11th November, 1859, the first store for the sale of groceries was opened.  At that time they had 139 members, with a capital of £210.  Since then the society's progress had been so rapid that it had never been surpassed, and never, he believed, equalled.  The receipts the first week the store was open were £84.  This had increased in thirteen weeks to £119 for the week, and they were enabled to give 9d. in the £ dividend, with 5 per cent interest on paid-up capital.  At the commencement of the following quarter the number of members had increased to 247, with a capital of £420, whilst the weekly sales ranged from £118 to £160.  About that time great difficulty was experienced in obtaining a shop for butchering, and great credit was due to the sub-committee and a few of the members who nobly seconded their endeavours.  They had now a butcher's shop where there were sold beef and mutton of a quality not often met with in that neighbourhood.  At the commencement of the present quarter the number of members was 377, with a capital of £1,219, and that was increasing rapidly, for, although only two months were passed, the number of members was 575 and the capital £2,000.  The weekly sales in grocery alone were £250 and with butchering and drapery added, the amount drawn over the counter at the present time was £314; a grocer, with one assistant and a man to weigh flour, actually taking £101 in one day.  With such an accumulation of funds they were obliged to open another store, and a shop was taken for the drapery business.  The shop was stocked with an excellent assortment of goods, and it was to be hoped that all co-operators would trade there for any draperies they might require.  (Hear, hear.)  Something had been said about the formation of a library and reading-room.  That was a matter which must be attended to after man had been supplied with food and raiment, and the common necessaries of life.

    Mr. Abraham Greenwood said the Stalybridge Society had made an excellent beginning, and he did not see why they should not do as they had done at Rochdale.  There the members had great advantages.  They had their food pure and unadulterated, as far as it could be procured; at all events, they got their goods from the manufacturers and large dealers, and did not allow any intermediate dealers, where it could be prevented, to interfere between those who manufactured and those who consumed the commodities.  Another advantage to he derived from co-operation was that it made people better friends.  To those who differed in politics and religion it was neutral ground on which they could meet and have friendly intercourse; it created a better feeling and confidence than had hitherto been attainable.  The Rochdale Society had men of all religious opinions and shades of politics, and they all agreed to persevere for each others' interest.  They had a capital of £32,513; they had done a business during the past quarter of £35,561, had paid in wages about £900, and had realised profits at the store alone at the rate of over £15,000 a year.  They had about eighty-six men engaged in the different departments, including six in drapery, three clerks, eight butchers, seventeen boot and shoe makers, ten cloggers, and ten tailors, with one general manager.  He was glad to see the Stalybridge people making an effort to raise an educational fund.  He conceived that nothing had done them more credit at Rochdale than that part of their co-operation; and he thought they had created for themselves advantages in that way which were never put within the reach of working men before.  The amount they devoted to education was 2½ per cent of the net profits, and the remainder was divided in the usual way.  That percentage, together with other funds devoted to educational purposes, amounted to something like £400 a year.  They had already purchased a large pair of globes for the instruction of the members, at a cost of about £20, and a large microscope for their amusement and instruction at a cost of £15.  Opera glasses and other articles of that description had been purchased, and were lent out to members at the rate of two-pence, whereas if they hired one at a theatre it would cost not less than a shilling.  They had first-rate maps of all countries on the face of the globe, and the newsroom was well stocked with newspapers and periodicals, such as the Quarterly Review, Cornhill Magazine, Westminster Review, &c.  Altogether they took in forty-four weekly newspapers and fourteen dailies.  The number of volumes in the library was between 3,000 and 4,000.  The Manufacturing Society had a capital of £58,000, 100 looms at work and 5,000 spindles.  The new mill, at which they were about to set to work, was sixty-six yards long, five storeys high, and they were about to put down two 60-horsepower engines.  They had expended on the building between £12,000 and £13,000, and on machinery and stock £21,000.  When the mill was completed they expected to find work for 400 people, to pay wages at the rate of £18,000 a year, and they calculated that they would do a business of £75,000.  The audience would see that this was all done by working men such as they, and they might do the same if they took the right course.  The Rochdale Corn Mill, which Mr. Hadfield had referred to, had, according to the last account just concluded, a capital of £24,000.  They had done a business during the quarter of £33,140, and realised profits to the amount of £2,665, turning out 760 sacks of flour per week.  The audience would see that the people within themselves had power, and it was required that they should be made to know and feel it.  The principal thing in such a business was confidence, and whenever Stalybridge members appointed their officers they must select men whom they thought were the best qualified to serve them; appoint them with full confidence, and exercise the necessary influence over them; and he (Mr. Greenwood) had no doubt they would succeed.  If the people of Rochdale had had no confidence in each other they would not have succeeded in the manner they had, for it had been proved that there was more lost by people not having confidence in each other than otherwise.

    Mr. Longfield said he came as a kind of messenger, bringing with him the good wishes of 700 members and friends, from the Manchester and Salford Society to those of the important and thriving town of Stalybridge.  And why should not co-operators in one district cherish good wishes toward those in another?  If it were right, and he was satisfied it was, for co-operators to combine for the pecuniary and general benefit of each other under the glorious name of co-operation, it was also right for such men and women who were at a distance to sympathise with efforts in the same direction all over the world.  He referred to the new journal, the Co-operator, and hoped that all present would patronise it by becoming subscribers.  It was a journal which advocated the system of co-operation; it contained accounts of all the societies in the country, and it would be of great importance to the members generally.  Co-operation was not intended to set workman against employer, but rather to promote friendly feeling between them, and in several cases already it had been the means of preventing strikes.  What was competition, which at present regulated all transactions, or nearly all?  It was a very peculiar thing; it was quite interwoven with every custom of society; and many employers would be glad if their business were conducted by some other system.  It created suspicion and distrust, and those were two great evils, especially if they were allowed to grow.  It went further; it reduced healthy ambition to ignoble struggle.  Instead of ambition being honest, it was often, under a system of competition, ignoble and dishonest, and then it became strife.  It caused excessive riches on the one hand, which riches were confined to a very few, and excessive poverty on the other hand, which poverty was extended to the many.  This ought not to be so, and something was wanted to bring about a different state of things.  He believed co-operation would, if rightly understood and rightly applied, bring about the change.  Co-operation, in the first place, enabled the working man to accumulate his savings gradually and easily. If the man joining a store was not well enough off to pay three-pence or five-pence a week towards his shares out of his earnings, the very profits which he obtained at the end of every quarter would pay that three-pence or five-pence for him, and more.  Co-operation did a great deal, too, towards destroying the abominable system, the credit system. (Applause.)  He believed those little shops — the "strap" shops — were the greatest enemies to working men, for instead of being beforehand they were always behindhand, and as soon as they received their earnings it was merely transferred from them to the shopkeeper for goods already consumed.  It was therefore clear that a wonderful reformation in the habits and condition of the working classes was being effected by means of co-operative societies.

    Mr. Marcroft then addressed the meeting.  He was very happy indeed, he said, to see the Mayor of Stalybridge present.  It had stimulated him to come from Oldham that night.  He gave an outline of what the co-operators of Oldham were doing, and congratulated those of Stalybridge upon their endeavouring to form a library for the benefit of the members.

    After a vote of thanks to the Mayor and its acknowledgment, the majority of the audience retired, the remainder staying to trip the light fantastic toe, which was kept up with great spirit until the last moment.

    The following poem, which appears to be the work of an enthusiastic Stalybridge member, was published in the Co-operator, September, 1860:—


All you who read this humble song,
    Whatever be your station,
Take our advice — you can't he wrong —
    Commence Co-operation.

You may have heard (we've often done)
    Of man's self-elevation;
But all great victories must be won
    By warm Co-operation.

Should some vain despot scan this land,
    And threaten an invasion,
There's not a power on earth could stand
    Our firm Co-operation.

The monarch, seated on his throne,
    Boasts not self-preservation;
Weak our powers put forth alone;
    Strong is Co-operation.

You'll find by looking round about
    Upon the wide creation,
That God's designs are carried out
    By wise Co-operation.

The sun by day, the moon by night
    Shed forth illumination;
One gives us heat, the other light,
    And hence Co-operation.

A lesson then for us to learn,
    For our own observation,
Is not another's help to scorn,
    But prize Co-operation.

Some selfish acts have lately come
    Before our observation,
Which only prompt a laugh from some
    Who love Co-operation.

While all are bound to do their best
    To raise a sodden nation,
Some grocer's slaves won't sell us yeast,
    To help Co-operation.

Such saddening conduct cannot harm,
    For here's our proclamation —
We've got a splendid, useful barm,
    By wise Co-operation.

Before we close, we may just state,
    By way of information,
That several of us have of late
    Commenced Co-operation.

Satan on heaven's high throne will sit,
    Lord of the whole creation,
Ere we will ask them for a bit
    To help Co-operation.

To pride ourselves on what we've done
    We feel we've great occasion;
We've saved our "tin" since we begun
    With our Co-operation.

Old tradesmen view our efforts made
    With awful consternation,
And, just because it spoils their trade,
    They hate Co-operation.

I wish we had them on this spot,
    To hear a smart oration,
Showing the blessings we have got
    By our Co-operation.

Methinks I see them boiling o'er
    With wrath and indignation;
Bidding us halt, and say no more
    About Co-operation.

Why sit and growl from day to day?
    Silence! ye "Bulls of Basan,"
Lest "Balaam's Ass" should come and bray
    Against Co-operation.

We're right! and all the powers of hell,
    In fiendish combination,
Can never toll the funeral knell
    Of true Co-operation.

Our best advice to such we give,
    Prepare for emigration;
Our course is fixed, we mean to live
    By our Co-operation.

Now we have done, we'll say no more,
    But close this brief narration
By asking all to join some store,
    And TRY Co-operation.

                        Stalybridge July, 1860.                                                       S.S.




ON the 29th June, 1861, a party and ball, in aid of the library, was held in the Foresters Hall, Vaudrey Street.  The Stalybridge Glee Club Concert Party and the Shepherds' Band were in attendance.  Moses Hadfield, Esq., presided in the absence of the Mayor (Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom, Esq.).  He said it was twelve months since they last met, and he thought the progress of the society during that time had been of a character that would be satisfactory to all concerned; indeed, he might congratulate them upon the very prosperous condition of the society.  He said the amount of cash drawn over the counters during the year was £42,114. 12s. 7d., and the profit £2,848. 2s. 0d., which had been divided amongst the purchasers.  Twelve months since the society had 800 members, now they numbered 2,000.  During the year there had been four branch stores opened, namely, Castle Hall, Hurst, Waterloo, and Millbrook.  The average weekly receipts at the branches were as follows — Castle Hall, £209; Hurst, £110; Millbrook, £56; Waterloo, £55.  During the past strike the society had been able to relieve the great distress of many of the poorer members, having paid in distressed cases alone upwards of £500.  The largest amount of money drawn in one week was £1,300, which sum was taken during the week ended February 16th, 1861, and the smallest amount £750, taken during the strike.  It appeared to him that the society was in a very prosperous condition, so much so that he thought it had surpassed their most sanguine expectations, considering that they had had a turnout to contend with, which some of the detractors of the society would say had a tendency to break it up.  He thought the Stalybridge Co-operative Society stood in as favourable a position as any other society in the kingdom, and had every prospect of progressing on a more extensive scale.  It was true they had some detractors, not only working men but others, and they could not expect to be exempt from that mode of censure.  It seemed strange that opposition to the society should come from working men; if it had come from some whom they might have considered as enemies, they could better have excused it, but from one of the workers he thought it came with a very bad grace.  He did not think, however, that there was any danger to be feared from any kind of opposition; the subject had been thoroughly ventilated, and the Stalybridge Co-operative Society was firmly established.

    The third annual meeting was held in the Foresters Hall on Tuesday evening, May 6th, 1862, when about 250 persons were present.  Mr. R. Cobham was called upon to preside, and the twelfth quarterly report of the society was read.  The lot of the people affected by strikes and by the cotton panic was such a hard one that the committee considered co-operation was upon its trial so far as Stalybridge was concerned.  There were amongst the members, they said, many sincere co-operators — men who believed in the principles of the movement, and were determined to support them in times of adversity as well as prosperity.  Take co-operation as a means of improving the social position of the workers, and there was no institution deserving of more cordial support.  In the unparalleled state of the commercial world, they said, all must prepare to make some diminution in expenditure, in order to meet a lessened income.  The earnings of the members had been reduced to a fractional part of what they were a year before, and it was found that those articles from which profit was derived had been almost entirely banished from the members' tables.  The consequent falling off in the receipts at the various stores resulted in a reduced profit, which must be submitted to in hopes of better times.

    The dividend on members' purchases for the quarter was 10d. in the £.  The gross receipts for the quarter were £8,739. 12s. 6½d., and the profit £429. 18s. 9d.

    The committees report was unanimously adopted by the members, and the officers were elected as follows:—

Secretary — Thomas Baxter.

Treasurer—Johanan Booth.

Trustees — John France, James Batty, and William Harrison.

Auditors — George Hodgkinson and James Carter.

Committee—John Ridgway, George Rushton, Joseph Kinsey, Levi Wild, Joshua Allsop, and David Stringer.

    The committee said they had caused proper balance sheets to be drawn up for each store, so that they could be told whether certain shops were making proper dividends.  These balance sheets, however, were only intended for the use of the committee until they could draw up a satisfactory statement for the members, to be laid before a general or annual meeting.  They thought it would not be wise to publish these balance sheets at present, because a store might pay a good dividend one quarter and an indifferent one the next; it would be better to obtain four quarterly balance sheets and strike average dividends.  It was well known, however, that Waterloo Branch did not pay.  If the members would use Rochdale flour, which could be obtained at the various stores, the dividend would be larger.  The four was dark because it was pure, and the Rochdale Pioneers sold none but this pure unadulterated article.  Persons in the room had used it for several years, and that was a proof that the flour was good.

    The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the retiring officers.

    The committee in their report for the thirteenth quarter, ended July 31st, 1862, said: "We cannot congratulate our members upon any increase of business.  The great and prolonged depression which has fallen upon the cotton trade has already left its mark upon all connected with its various branches of manufacture, and especially upon the operatives.  This will account to our members for the change in our hitherto progressive prosperity.  The committee are making continued efforts to reduce the working expenses, and feel confident that the changes which are being made will tend to its permanent prosperity.  The Waterloo Branch is no longer connected with the society, having been taken over by the members of that village at a valuation.  We feel convinced that the business will be best and most profitably conducted when confined to the limits of the borough."

    They reminded the members that it was their duty as well as interest to support the different departments, and that they were trading with themselves with their own capital.  The committee assured the members that they, on their part, were adopting a policy of strict economy in all departments, and they hoped by that means, with the support of the members, to tide over the depression without impairing the interests of the society.

    At this time the board room was in the Caroline Street premises, and monthly meetings of members were held there on first Monday evenings.

    The quarter's sales were:—

    The contributions to share capital were £285 and the withdrawals £775; £220 was paid as wages and £317 dividend and interest.  The balance in hand at the opening of the quarter's accounts was £429; at the close, although the partial withdrawals of members who must have been hard pressed for money exceeded the contributions by £490, the balance was £242.  A dividend of 6d. per £ on members' and non-members' purchases was declared, and there was a balance of £6. 19s. 9d. to carry forward.  The balance sheet was as follows :—

    The Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter of August 16th, 1862, has a comment that the society was considered to be passing through the cotton panic tolerably well, and that doubtless upon the resumption of activity it would enjoy a good share of prosperity.  Dividend was paid at three places, including two of the branches, those at Hurst and Waterloo.  The butchering department was closed on Monday afternoons, and the grocery on Wednesdays at 2 o'clock.  Drapery was closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7, and Fridays at 8, but was kept open until 10 p.m. on Saturdays.

    On Thursday, September 4th, 1862, Mr. James Hyde, general manager, tendered his resignation, which was accepted by the committee, and the Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter of September 20th, 1862, remarks that one of the signs of the times was to be found in the fact that the co-operative society had advertised for a manager, and that no less than sixty persons had applied for the vacant situation.


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