History of the Stalybridge Co-op (II.)

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THE COMMITTEE 1862-1864.

ON Monday evening, September 15th, 1862, a special meeting of members was held in the Court Room, Town Hall, about 500 members being present.  Unusual interest was shown in the meeting from the fact that a handbill had been extensively circulated in the town, stating that the committee were ruining the society.  Another bill had been placed on the window shutters of the draper's shop in Caroline Street, which read as follows:— "Notice.  This shop is closed by order of the Committee of Mis-management," and was signed by "One of the old committee."

    Mr. W. Roberts was called upon to preside, and at the outset he stated that no speaker would be allowed more than five minutes at a time, nor to address the meeting more than twice on any one subject.  Acting on these regulations, a good number were able to give expression to their opinions.

    The Chairman said that the first business was to consider the proffered resignation of Mr. Johanan Booth as treasurer.  A letter had been received from Mr. Gartside, a solicitor, of Ashton, stating that the treasurer's books must be examined before the 16th inst., as he was retiring from office.  It appears that there were differences between the committee, treasurer, and secretary.  The last named had already retired.  It was reported that the treasurer had stated that he had more than £200 in his hands which the books of the society "did not credit him with," and the chairman announced at the meeting that the committee had not been able to get a balance sheet from him.  The chairman thought the resignation ought to be accepted.

    The reading of some of these early records reminds the writer of the mistaken attitude that is occasionally taken up by very worthy men in positions of trust.  In one instance a gentleman in such a position became very indignant when he was asked by auditors to prove a balance of cash that he stated he had in hand.  In these days of more advanced accounting and more thorough audit such instances are rare, however, and the requirements of auditors who are capable in their profession do not in the least ruffle the feathers of the accounting party.

    A member asked if, by resigning, Mr. Booth would throw off his liability to the society.  He had been in office from the infancy of the society, and the shops, &c., were in his name, one of them being held on a lease for seven years.  He would like to know, too, whether in the event of Mr. Booth withdrawing his capital it would be right to allow his name to be retained in the rent books, &c.

    Another member inquired if they really could appoint another treasurer, seeing that Mr. Booth was the tenant of the shops.

    One of the committee, in reply, stated that no member could throw off any liability to the society until he had been left two years.  The positions of treasurer and tenant of shops were distinct.  They could accept his resignation of the office of treasurer and still retain his name in the rent books if they thought proper.

    Another matter they had to report to that meeting, the chairman said, was that the committee had determined to have the times of all their servants kept, such times to be paid for at rates per week.  They had found that the butchering department did not pay, and a change of management had been made.  Two of the committee had attended the previous week to assist the new butcher, with the result that 3s. in the £ had been realised.  Mr. Marsland had bought them four beasts last week, and the butchering department was looking up under its new management; in fact, when they closed the shop at 8 o'clock the previous Saturday night they had sold more beef than had ever been sold before.  The drapery department, which had been closed for a time, was opened for a few hours last week end, with the result that £6 was drawn.  It was their intention to open it every Saturday in future.  This was proceeding in the right direction, and with the co-operation of the members the society would become prosperous and pay a good dividend.

    The resignation of Mr. Booth was then accepted, and Mr. James Lawton was appointed in his place.  Mr. Charles Jones, of Stalybridge, and Mr. Luke Thornley, of Hurst, were elected to the committee.

    The chairman stated that examination had been made of the various shops, and they were improving the control.  They also found that they possessed more property than they had been aware of, for on looking over the bills it was found that they were paying tax for a large Newfoundland dog, which had been named "Dividend."  They had not bought the dog, and had never seen the schedule under which it was taxed until four days after it was too late to appeal.  If they had to pay tax for it, however, he presumed it belonged to them, and would like to know what they were to do with it.  (Cries of "Drown it.")  He was glad to find that the men of Hurst were doing their duty.  They had formed a sub-committee to look after the interests of the branch, and the store had been thoroughly cleaned.  One or two of the mills in Hurst had gone on full time, and the receipts had considerably increased, £120 having been drawn over the counter last week.

    Mr. Cobham substantiated the statements of the chairman, and said he had been appointed to look after the various shops until a general manager could be appointed, and, as the shopmen did not like him, they had named him "Inspector Cobham."

    A member then referred to various representations and rumours which were being extensively circulated in the town for the purpose of inducing members to withdraw their capital, and reminded them to be on their guard and work together for their own good.  It had been said that it was no light matter to be a member of the committee, for there was a good deal of anxiety in reference to the business of the society.  Members were withdrawing their capital because of bad times, and, in a few instances, as a result of the misrepresentations of interested parties.  If the capital of the society was withdrawn to any considerable amount, then the fixed stock would become to them nothing more in value than old timber.  There would be loss also on capital sunk in trade stocks, which could not be disposed of until the cotton trade improved.  A sum of £1,000 was sunk in drapery, and if members could purchase it, all would be well there; and the drapery stock might yet prove a good investment, owing to the great rise in prices since it was purchased.

    It was unanimously resolved — "That the committee possess the full confidence of the members, and are empowered to obtain legal advice on any subject which may arise in connection with the present position of the society."

    During the speaker's remarks a dog was heard barking very loudly, and considerable amusement was created by someone calling, "Yond's co-op. dog."

    Another member said he had heard a report that the committee received a shilling for every hour they sat.  (Cries of "It's false.")  He knew it was false, but thought he would mention it.  He was quite sanguine about the future of the society, and if members were compelled to withdraw their capital, he would borrow in accordance with the rules.  He was confident the committee were the right men in the right place, and should support them.

    The meeting shortly afterwards broke up, having lasted about two hours and a half.  Stormy scenes had been expected, but, on the contrary, the members were unanimous in supporting the committee, and it was demonstrated that there were sufficient zealous and warm-hearted friends of co-operation in the society to carry it through its difficulties and make it thereafter a powerful society.

    The society was first registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act of 1852.  At that time there was no such thing as limited liability, the Limited Liability Act being passed some three years later, in 1855, and several times amended in 1856-7-8.  In the event of a winding-up, every member of the society would have been liable down to his last penny until creditors were satisfied.  The protection of the new Act was sought in 1862, a meeting of members held in the Court Room of the Town Hall on the 29th September deciding that the society be enrolled under the Limited Liability Act.

    In the Co-operator for March, 1862, there appears the following paragraph:—

STALYBRIDGE.—There has been some falling-off here of late, but not to an alarming extent.  This should cheer the members up, and induce them to persevere in well-doing.  The eleventh quarterly report shows the receipts to have been £10,591, reserve fund £98, dividend 1s. to members and 6d. to non-members.

    A falling-off is scarcely the thing to cheer up the members.  Probably the writer of the paragraph meant that things might have been worse, and that members should not be discouraged, but rather stirred or inspired to hold on.  The thirteenth report, showing a decrease of over £3,000 from the figures quoted by the Co-operator, has already been referred to, and it will be seen as the story is unfolded that there were still greater difficulties to face, when other branches were to secede, and a quarter's sales were to fall below two thousand pounds, grim evidence of the struggles and suffering of the people under that almost overwhelming adversity, the Cotton Panic.

    The report for the fourteenth quarter, ended 31st October, 1862, is the first in which the word "Limited" is used as the last of the society's name, thus indicating that the application for registry with limited liability had been successful.  The report is as follows:—

    The committee are happy that they are enabled now to publish a full and correct account of the real condition of the society (which they are convinced has never been done before).  It may be fairly inferred that it has now successfully passed through its infantine diseases, and we therefore feel confident that it will flourish and pay dividends; that will satisfy and benefit its members, confound and disappoint its enemies, and make certain individuals blush and shame that it not only survives, but that it actually prospers, after their flagrant attempts to overthrow it.  Your committee are sorry that they cannot pay any dividend this time; yet they are confident that when you compare the last report and the present you will find a sufficient reason why.

    Millbrook and Hurst members have taken their stores at a fair valuation, and are now on their own responsibility.

    A comparison of the two quarters' accounts reveals the influence of the Cotton Panic on the society's trade, and on the condition of its members.  The Water Street grocery sales had decreased from £2,102 the previous quarter to £1,774, Grosvenor Street £2,088 to £1,685, Hurst £766 to £763, and Millbrook £453 to £:412; butchering from £794 to £669, and drapery £219 to £105.  The total sales, July quarter, were £6,930, in October they had fallen to £5,411.  The severance of Waterloo Branch three months before would account for something like £500 of the decrease.

    Mr. John Ashcroft, a member of the Board of Management of the present Waterloo Society, has obtained some information as to the formation of the Waterloo Branch.  As far as he can ascertain, he says, Mr. Samuel Robinson was engineer at Jamieson's mill in Dukinfield, where now stand the Compo Works of Messrs. Hy. Shaw and Co.  Mr. Robinson came in contact with the co-operators of Stalybridge and induced them to form the branch at Waterloo.  When the co-operators there became established as another society, Mr. Robinson was a member of the committee, and remained on the Board for many years.  The first manager to the new Waterloo Society was Mr. Joseph Hadfield, who afterwards joined the Church of England Ministry, and who has been for a long time vicar of Hadfield.

    The "General Statement" of October 31st, 1862, reads:—

Note the concise announcement of the non-existence of the reserve and management funds.



Hath hope been smitten in its early dawn?
Have clouds o'ercast thy purpose, trust, or plan?
Have faith, and struggle on!

—R. S. S. Andros.


THE committee, auditors, treasurer, manager, and all employees of the society, together with a number of members, met on Tuesday evening, January 6th, 1863.  Supper was served and a very pleasant evening spent.  It was said that such meetings proved that the society, which of late had passed through a series of changes, was progressing favourably, and would soon be placed upon a sound and permanent basis.

    In their report for the quarter ended 30th September, 1863, the committee said they had great pleasure in being able to state that the business was steadily progressing in spite of the severe strain upon the resources of the members during the preceding two years.  The report continued:—

    After numberless vicissitudes and changes, we feel that the interests of our society are consolidated, and that it is now upon a firm and sound basis.

    The receipts during the last quarter would, no doubt, have allowed a greater division of profits than the committee deem advisable to be paid under present circumstances.  Guided by past experience, we are assured that the true and safe interests of your society depend upon being at all times able to meet its engagements with promptitude, and not to feel crippled or doubtful of our financial position.  It is this view of the society's interests that has determined your committee upon the division of profits to be paid at the present time.

    With regard to the future of this society, the committee look forward with a sanguine hope to better days, when each share will become as valuable as those in the most prosperous societies.

    The separation of Hurst and Millbrook members would reduce the quarter's sales perhaps £1,000; the decrease was nearly £2,000 — from £5,411 to £3,476.  Strangely enough, drapery sales had more than doubled, £234 compared with £105, the decrease being in grocery and butchering, the only other departments.  The statement of liabilities and assets certainly forms better reading than that of a year before.  Fixed stock appears £63 less, whilst the total assets are £148 more, and instead of a loss there is shown a profit of £184.  A dividend of a 1s. to members and 6d. to non-members was declared.  Messrs. William Moores and Nathaniel Moss were the auditors.

    Three months later the committee expressed their gratification at the fact that the business was marked by constancy and firmness, and that the profits would enable them to pay a larger dividend.  Eighteen-pence to members and a 1s. to non-members were declared, and fixed stock was considerably further reduced.  When they reflected upon the state of trade, they said, the difficulty which some of the members had had to pass through, and the self-denial which all had been forced to practise, they were assured that the report would be both cheering and acceptable.  The balance sheet was signed by Samuel Hadfield, secretary.

    Although we do not find evidence of much progress of the newsroom and library referred to at the 1860 and 1861 gatherings, it is clear that the committee and secretary did not forget the educational side of our movement.  The Cotton Panic would preclude the setting apart of a fund in Stalybridge, but they appear to have thought that the object could be achieved in another way.  In the Co-operator of July, 1864, the following appears:—

STALYBRIDGE ("GOOD INTENT INDUSTRIAL"). — We hope that the good feeling shown towards your publication will result in its continuance, and tend to its prosperity, and that The Co-operator will become the household paper of every true friend to progress among the industrial classes.  In your last issue it is suggested that The Co-operator should become more varied in its character, and embrace other matters than mere reports of the progress of these societies.  This suggestion meets with our approval, and we think, if carried out, will make The Co-operator a useful and attractive publication.  It must be remembered that many persons who become members of these useful societies are men who have moved in the lower strata of society; such men need instruction well as encouragement, and your paper may become to some of them a pioneer to more elevated tasks, and a guide to a better social existence.


    The half-yearly meeting, held Tuesday, November 1st, 1864, was a crowded one, owing to the fact that there was no dividend to declare, and to a report which had been circulated that the general manager had been discharged.  Mr. Charles Jones, who was voted to the chair, said his position was a disagreeable one, but he would endeavour to act fairly and honestly to all.  It had unfortunately happened that at every annual meeting during the society's history they had had someone to vilify or condemn.  Two years ago it led to a separation; twelve months ago it was a butcher who had to be condemned, and now he understood it was the committee or someone else who was in for it because there was no dividend.  It appears there had been, as Mr. Jones hinted, a separation two years before, the seceding members setting up as a joint-stock concern in Grosvenor Square, next door, on the High Street side, to the shop which, in its improved state, is now occupied by the society's tailoring department.

    The secretary read the report, which was, briefly, as follows :—

In presenting you with another quarterly report, the committee are not prepared to say that the society is in the position which they have been labouring for some time to attain.  We find from the auditors' report on the past quarter's business that there has been a decided loss.  To account for this state of things we must confess that we are not, as a committee, prepared to accept the full responsibility.  It is evident that there has been wrong somewhere, and we can at present only point to the figures with a feeling of disappointment, and hope, by a change of management, to make this society what others are, a decided success.  We feel that this state of things in connection with our society is far from satisfactory, and that there must be at once a curtailment of expenditure in rent, taxes, &c., before we can secure that amount of dividend which members have a right to expect.

    The financial statement showed the liabilities to be as follows:— Members' claims as per members ledger £2,426, interest £58, accounts owing £474, loan £56. Proportion of rates, gas, water, insurance, and licenses £20. The assets were returned as cash in hand £290, goods in stock £2,015, invested in Rochdale Corn Mill £27, fixed stock £470, a deficiency of £214. The report from the auditors was read as follows:—

In compliance with the rules, we make a report of our audit to this half-yearly meeting.  We found the books neatly and properly entered up, with the exception of a few errors which were rectified.  One was an error of 10d. in the petty cash book against the secretary.  We have given him credit for it in the present quarter's accounts.  We found proper vouchers for items entered in the cash book, both on the Dr. and Cr. sides, and that such vouchers prove that the balance of cash in hand, named in the report, is correct.  The auditors thought it necessary the previous quarter, to give more satisfaction to them, and to the members, that the treasurer should on the last day in each quarter pay the whole of his cash into the bank, so that the bank book would be a guarantee to them that the secretary's balance was correct.  This has been done this quarter, and the balance to our credit in the bank on that day, together with a few relief tickets, corresponds with the balance in the cash book.  The committee have at different times borrowed money on interest from members, and we are sorry to add that these amounts were not entered properly in the ledger, in consequence of which an error of £31 too little was made in the liabilities last quarter.  It was necessary in the same quarter to get a new ledger for members' private accounts, and in transferring the accounts from the old ledger to the new, two or three mistakes, amounting to about £11, occurred, which made members' claims appear that amount more than they really were; this was favourable to the society, and reduced the previous error to £20, which has been counterbalanced by keeping fixed stock at its previous amount.  We beg to ask, for the good of the members, and for the accuracy of the accounts, that members send their books in every quarter, to be examined and checked by the auditors.  We often find these books a great help in keeping the accounts straight.  We should be pleased if we had nothing more serious to lay before the meeting, but it has transpired that an error of considerable amount was made in the June report.  Bills owing, instead of reading £48. 10s. 6d., stated in the report, should have been about £200.

    Several questions were asked as to the profits made at the Castle Hall and Water Street shops, the responsibility for the accuracy of the stocktaking, and the attitude of the committee toward the manager.  It appears that an unfortunate disagreement had arisen; some of the committee were for and some against the manager, and the members also were divided, at least one asserting that the committee were prejudiced against one whom they had reason to trust.  One cause of the difference was a purchase of boots and shoes to the value of £49 by the manager.  The committee thought he should have consulted them before buying the goods, and when they told him so he resented their attitude, saying that if he were to be their manager he would not ask their consent in such matters.  Another cause was his action in employing a lady in the drapery department who had not been appointed by the committee, and in spite of remonstrance from them.  There was a motion that the action of the committee be confirmed, and an amendment that the manager be reinstated.  At this point a discussion arose as to whether women should vote.  It was said that many members had brought their wives in order that they also might vote.  It was decided that women could vote if they were members and had no husbands.  Tellers were appointed and the motion was carried by a large majority.

    Mr. John Bamford said that when the committee found there was no dividend they tried for days to find the cause and that accounted for the report being delayed.  Every member of the committee was a member of the society, and had as much interest in a good dividend as any other member; each sacrificed a good deal of time in watching the interests of the society, and was as anxious as anybody for its success.  He had examined past balance sheets and found that for the last six quarters the income had been about the same per quarter; they had paid no more for wages, rent, taxes, &c., this quarter than in any previous one, and, therefore, when there was no dividend there was something wrong.  He could not tell where, he only wished he could.  The previous dividends averaged more than 1s. in the pound.  He was sorry they were £200 behind nothing, and that there was little prospect of a future dividend, but he hoped there would be no more "splits," or co-operation in Stalybridge would be done for.  If they were true co-operators they were so from principle, and as such he advised them to look at things in a fair and proper light.  Since the society commenced £5,500 had been paid to its members, a fact which spoke volumes; let them stick to co-operation, and if any careless, reckless management got amongst them, let it be driven out, and the society would again flourish. (Applause.)

    It was then resolved almost unanimously ― "That the whole of the stores be transferred to Castle Hall premises."

    A requisition was handed to the chairman, signed by twenty members, calling a special meeting of the society to be held the following week for the purpose of "discharging and electing fresh officers," and the meeting then broke up, having lasted 3½ hours.

    The special meeting was held on Tuesday evening, November 8th, 1864, in the Courtroom of the Town Hall.  Mr. John Ridgway was unanimously appointed to preside.  He said the meeting was called by a requisition of twenty members, and he would like some of them to get up and state what their object was in calling them together that night.



    After a lengthy pause, Mr. Swift said that as one who had signed the requisition, he had to state that he had done so from the fact that at the last meeting the committee did not seem to be as friendly with one another as men engaged in such a noble work as co-operation ought to be, and he thought that if the meeting was held it would give any member of the committee a chance, and if there were any who ought to resign, they could ask them to do so, and he had no doubt they would comply.  Several of the requisitionists having expressed themselves similarly, Mr. Kinsey and Mr. Chas. Jones tendered their resignations, which were accepted, and Mr. Marshall Ashworth and Mr. Geo. Storrs were elected in their stead.  Another member of the committee, Mr. W. Roberts, was accused of "having gone about trying to prejudice the members against the late manager" by one outspoken member, who objected to Mr. Roberts being returned to the committee for that reason, and because the committee came forward and said they were not prepared to take the responsibility for the position of the society.  Twelve members voted against, but there was a forest of hands held up for Mr. Roberts, and he was re-elected.  The same outspoken member, whom we will call Mr. B., asserted that while the society drew more money than others it was a long way behind them in dividend.  Mr. Cobham said he lived in Ashton, and could not properly attend to his duties.  He would resign, and move that Mr. B. be elected in his place.  Here there were loud cries of "We won't have him; we've had enough of him."  Mr. B. said he had no desire for office, but he was as strongly in favour of co-operation as anyone, and he could assure them that his reason for acting as he had was that he wished the society to prosper and pay as good dividends as any other.  He would not accept office.  It was then moved ― "That the committee as at present constituted retain office."  This was at once seconded by a score or two of voices, and upon being put was carried with only two or three against.

    Mr. Hutchinson said he would be glad if the society could pay 20s. in the pound, and personally he would be willing to sacrifice his dividend and interest until they attained that position.  The Chairman said there appeared to be considerable uneasiness about Water Street Branch being closed, but it could not be avoided, and all true co-operators would put up with it.  Mr. Kinsey said that £49 below the average for the quarter was taken at the stores.

    The Chairman said he would like to know the opinion of the members about buying some property, so that they could live under their own vine and fig tree.  Mr. R. Greenwood said he was in favour of a large business in cheap premises and as few servants as possible.  He was willing to sacrifice interest and dividend in order to purchase some property, and he thought that if the society had not funds it would be desirable to issue special shares for such a purpose.  Mr. Henry Hurst said that, in order to test the opinion of the meeting, he would move -- "That the committee be empowered to enter into negotiations for the purchase of some shop property".

    Mr. Kinsey thought they had better not attempt to buy property until their shares were worth 20s. in the pound, and Mr. Chas. Jones said it was ridiculous to talk of buying property when they were insolvent.  Mr. R. Greenwood remarked that if every house in Stalybridge had to be paid for before it were built there would be very few dwellings in the town.

    The motion was then put and carried by a large majority, and Mr. G. Storrs moved a vote of thanks to those members of the committee who had resigned.  The Chairman said he could testify to the energy, zeal, and ability with which Mr. Kinsey had attended to his duties, and Mr. Cobham spoke in a similar manner of Mr. Jones's labours.  A lady member said there could be no doubt that Mr. Jones and Mr. Kinsey had both done their duty.  She wished the servants of the society would be more civil to their customers, and related how she went to the store, and because she tasted the butter with a half-crown which she had in her hand, she was insulted; such conduct ought to be put a stop to, if the society must prosper.  The motion was unanimously carried.  Mr. Kinsey returned thanks, and said he hoped they would be content without dividend until they were worth 20s. in the pound.

    The difficulties of the years 1861 to 1864 had brought about the secession of three of the four branches, and they proved too much for butchering, which was given up in 1864.  At the end of that year there were grocery and drapery only, with one shop for each department.

    Mr. Watson had succeeded Mr. Rowbotham as manager.



Hope on, hope ever! though to-day be dark,
The sweet sunburst may smile on thee to-morrow.

—Gerald Massey.


IN April, 1865, the committee published a report and accounts covering six months.  The sales for the first half of the period, to December 31st, 1864, were £2,208, compared with £3,605, December, 1863; and for the quarter ended March 31st, 1865, they were £1,860 only.  The report reads:—

The committee beg to express their sincere thanks to the members who have shown their confidence in, and given their support to, co-operation in its hour of need.  In the last report you found a balance loss of £214, which would doubtless surprise and dishearten even the most sanguine of our members.  If we compare the last with some of the preceding quarters, we can only conclude that there has been some gross mismanagement at the least, for the receipts have been nearly equal for five quarters successively, including the last, the 21st.  In the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th quarters we made very respectable profits, and how it should happen that we could make those profits and then make a loss at the rate of £214 in one quarter, with about the same receipts, is more than your committee can at present account for.  For instance, let us compare the 18th and 21st quarters receipts and profits.  There is a difference in the receipts of £4 only; yet there is shown a profit one quarter of £249, and a loss the other of £214.  We think even those who have taken umbrage at our giving up Water Street Store, concentrating our trade, curtailing expenses in rents, wages, &c., will, upon mature reflection, conclude that we have adopted the only feasible, sure, and practical plan for restoring confidence and establishing the society upon a firm basis, by purchasing property and making the shareholders safe in their investments; and we are convinced that when we are freed from all the old encumbrances and settled in our own premises we shall be able to pay reasonable dividends; and then, we hope, bring back the members who have ceased to trade with us, who by that time will have seen the folly of building up a society one day, and pulling it down the day following.

    Mr. Joseph Greenwood was secretary at this time.

    In the 24th quarterly report, July, 1865, the committee congratulated the members on being able to pay a dividend of 1s. in the pound to members and 9d. to non-members, besides finishing off a debt of £57, owing at the end of the previous quarter.  They had about six hundred members who possessed more than two thousand shares.  The society owned two shops and some outbuildings in Grosvenor Street, which cost £462. 17s. 6d., and the committee stated that they were in hopes that if the members would trade at their own shops the society would become thoroughly prosperous and once more pay good dividends.

    On Wednesday evening, November 1st, 1865, the half-yearly meeting was held in the Courtroom of the Town Hall, about eighty members being present.  Mr. Matthew Hutchinson was called upon to preside, and after a few remarks from him, Mr. Joseph Greenwood, secretary, read the report, from which the following is extracted:—

In presenting this report, the committee confess their pleasure in thanking the real, steadfast, and persevering members for their unshaken fidelity in the cause of co-operation, and their commiseration for, and sympathy with, the unstable, dissatisfied non-trading ones; they contend that as a committee they are justified in sympathising with those who are thoroughly convinced of the great advantages of co-operation, yet who (in the face of these convictions, either to serve party purposes, satisfy vindictive feelings, or something worse) can allow themselves to be made into the most useful instruments, or willing tools, to frustrate, to overthrow, and if possible, to annihilate co-operation.  For this reason the committee feel it an imperative duty to speak out, to tell the members and the public, that many of the originators of this society, who advocated it in the strongest terms, who invested money in it, and advised others to do so, who worked for it soon and late, and never thought they had done too much, that many such members have deserted it, and that now they strive to injure it!  What inconsistency! what consummate folly!! what complete madness!!! to originate, to advocate, to support, to defend, and work for a society a time, and then because they cannot have exactly their own way, to turn round and pull down their own pet hobby.  Now we beg of those members to reconsider the matter, to banish such narrow-mindedness, to do justice to themselves, to come again to us and sit down with us under our own vine and fig tree, for we are now in our own shop, which is respectable, comfortable, and convenient.  There is room for all, and we do most sincerely invite every member to enjoy the benefits, taste the sweets, and gather the fruits of co-operation.  We beg also to inform the members that we should be glad to take up shares, at the late prices, from non-trading members, and we trust that they will either embrace this favourable opportunity of selling out, or commence trading with us at once, and cease to be drones, sucking out the heart's core from the busy hive of industry.

    The financial statement showed that the cash received during the quarter had been about £2,000, while the dividend was declared to be 1s. in the £ upon members' purchases, and 10d. in the £ upon non-members'.

    The report was passed unanimously, and several suggestions were thrown out for still further improving the extending business of the society, after which a vote of thanks was tendered to the chairman.

    The general feeling was expressed that the dark hours of the society were passed, and that in future it would go on in a manner thoroughly satisfactory to all concerned.

    The closing times for shops from the 5th November, 1865, were: — Mondays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m.; Tuesdays, 2 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 9 p.m.  On Wakes days the same year the shops were closed at 2 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, and at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

    There is a reminder in the records here of the days when tremendous puncheons, &c., of some grocery goods were bought and sold.  It was arranged in November, 1865, that all tierces and other packages too heavy to be weighed on the premises be dealt with at the railway station.  In the same year another article that we do not now find in our shops was bought from Mr. Sykes — a sugar-chopping machine.

    On Saturday, December 2nd, 1865, a tea party in connection with the society was held in the People's Institute, Plantation Ground, about 400 persons being present.  After tea, the Mayor, James Sidebottom, Esq., occupied the chair, and was supported on the platform by many warm-hearted friends of the co-operative movement.  The Chairman, in opening the meeting, said he had gladly responded to the kind invitation of the committee to preside on that occasion.  He should, however, say very little, as he was surrounded by gentlemen who had made co-operation their study, and whose opinions were entitled to more consideration than his own.  He suggested that the addresses should be short and sweet, as he knew that many of them would rather listen to the strains of the band, and join in the festive dance, than to long speeches.  He had been highly gratified to hear from the report of the society that they had got through their trials and difficulties and that their affairs had been placed upon what was no doubt a better, because a firmer, basis.  He considered that working men were justified in forming these societies, and if they appointed managers who would attend to their business, so that people could buy their goods at a fair market price, there would be no doubt that, to use a common remark, it would "bring grist to the mill," and that would give them good dividends.  It appeared that in the past all had not been straight sailing, but he trusted that in the future the society would make a stand, and attain a position equal to others of the same class throughout the country. (Cheers.)

    The Rev. T. Floyd said he could not avoid expressing his personal gratification at seeing such a mixed assembly, neither could he avoid saying that he felt strongly on the subject of co-operation.  He rejoiced at the progress of every movement which had for its aim the improvement and elevation of working men.  It was a fact that no class could get on without co-operation, and no matter whether a man was rich or poor, he was dependent upon co-operation.  He knew the Stalybridge Society had had great difficulties to grapple with, but he thought that, with the improved state of the town, the members would be able to draw a better dividend.  If working men were not content no other class of the community would be content, and as the spread of co-operation would tend to make them more prosperous, contented, and happy, it deserved the support of all good men.  Upon these and other grounds he gladly availed himself of the opportunity of being with them on that occasion.

    Mr. Thomas Hodson remarked that he had heard of a certain society in the town where, if in the audit of the accounts any difficulty arose, it was coolly said; "Sup, an' it'll be reet."  As one of the auditors of the Stalybridge Co-operative Society, he could say that such was not the case with their accounts, for they were found right without a single "sup."  He considered Mr. Joseph Greenwood, the secretary, to be the right man in the right place; he was kind, and was always ready with whatever information was required, and was a most valuable servant of the society.

    The Rev. J. P. Hopps, in the course of his remarks, said he had laboured under a misapprehension with regard to the meeting, for whilst he expected to find it a meeting of men, it was composed partly of women.  He might, however, have expected to find it composed of women, for, after all, co-operation had most to do with women, for while the men worked for the money, the women spent it.  (Laughter.)  He had been thinking a great deal about co-operation during the day, and it had been in his thoughts so much that he was almost afraid he should be preaching about it on the following Sunday.  He might have many a worse subject for a text, for what better could a parson preach or talk about than the homes of working people, and how they could improve those homes by means of co-operation.  There was a charm about the word "Co-operation," when properly understood. "Co" meant "with one another," and "operation" meant "work," so that the word really meant "work with one another."  He was a believer in co-operation; the movement was not simply a selfish one, but it appeared to him to be a great means of educating the people.  Give a man a share in the bank, or a co-operative society, and that very minute he became much more of a man.  If fifty men were united for an object, they had different ideas and passions, and they had to learn how to moderate their feelings and govern their passions — in fact, to learn how to be men.  Co-operation was a greater question than Parliamentary reform, and he hoped to have the privilege shortly of speaking to working men on that which would tend so much to improve and elevate them in the social scale.

    Mr. Henry Pitman, editor of the Co-operator [footnoteJ, next addressed the meeting.  He said there was great food for thought in what had been advanced by the various speakers.  He was pleased to find them assembled in such a fine and noble room, devoted to educational advancement of the people, for co-operation could only advance in proportion to the education of the people.  The speaker went on to describe the various virtues of co-operation, and especially named honesty in word and deed, cash dealings, and a firm belief that the principles of co-operation were true.  Referring to the number of ladies present, he expressed a wish that all their partners had been with them, but he was afraid he had seen some of them rambling the streets with their pipes in their mouths, and their hands in their pockets.  Reference had been made by one of the speakers to "snuggeries," but those who lived in glass houses should not throw stones.  He must be faithful with them, and tell them candidly it was to their shame that they could not have a party like that without a stall for the sale of liquors.  There was a real danger in having such a stall, and he must say that with one exception he had never found such a thing before in connection with co-operation.

    Mr. John Ridgway next addressed the meeting, and in the course of a thoroughly practical address, showed that during the last twenty-five years innumerable schemes had been propounded for improving the working classes.  Working men had a right to combine and lay out their money to the best advantage.  Co-operation was yet in its infancy, for persons did not become true co-operators by simply joining a co-operative society; it was not true co-operation for a woman, when she went to the stores to expect her goods for nothing, and a good dividend into the bargain, as some women in Stalybridge expected.  True co-operation had faith in the manager of the societies buying in the best markets, and unless they had that faith they had a great deal to learn before they were true co-operators.  It was true there had been much in Stalybridge to disturb that faith, but it was again becoming firmer, as was evidenced from the fact that during the present quarter they were drawing more money by £31 per week at their shop in Grosvenor Street than they were previously drawing at the whole of the branches.  With some pertinent advice to lady co-operators, as well as non-co-operators, the speaker concluded his address.

    Votes of thanks were tendered to the gentlemen who had responded to the invitation of the committee, and to the mayor for presiding.

Ed. ― The Co-operator, published by Henry Pitman from 1860 to 1871, forms the start of a complete run of co-operative journals, which continued with the Co-operative News.  During the late 1860s, Pitman's interest in the anti-vaccination movement led to the change of name to the Co-operator and Anti-Vaccinator and eventually to a change in focus away from the co-operative movement. The newspaper Co-operation News marks the beginning of the co-operative movement's publishing work.  It reports on events within the co-operative movement from stories on local co-operative societies to international events.  For many years during the twentieth century, it was produced in six regional editions.  (For more information on co-operative periodicals see the Co-operative College website).



Say not the struggle nought availeth,
            The labor and the wounds are vain.

— A. H. Clough.


IN their twenty-seventh quarterly report, April, 1866, the committee congratulated the members on the steady and increased progress and stability of the society, and hoped that all true, earnest, and well-wishing members would reciprocate.

    They were confident that as the great crisis in the cotton trade had passed, greater results might be realised by the members purchasing all they could at the society's stores, and said that unless they did, they could not receive, nor reasonably expect, the same benefits as members belonging to similar societies who were heart and soul in the great work of social redemption.  The dividend for the quarter was 1s. 3d. in the £ to members, and 1s. to non-members.

The annual meeting was held on Tuesday evening, May 1st, 1866, in the Court Room of the Town Hall, Mr. John Bamford presiding.  The attendance was not large, but the greatest unanimity prevailed.  The report was unanimously passed, and Messrs. M. Ashworth, R. Whittle, J. Hampshire, H. Kenworthy, and J. Kay were elected to the committee.  The three first named were re-elected, the other two being new members of the board.  No other change was made in the officers, except the election of Mr. M. Hutchinson as trustee.

    In their 28th quarterly report, June 30th, the committee said their anticipations had not been realised that quarter.  They had hoped to see a much greater increase in the receipts, so that they could have paid a dividend higher than that of the previous quarter, but in that, their cherished hope, they had been disappointed.  There seemed to be slight progress-making, however, the sales being £2,230, and the dividend as in March, 1s. 3d. to members and a 1s. to non-members.  The members' claims were £2,227 and the profit £140.  Members, non-members, and friends were earnestly appealed to, to assist in endeavouring to carry out and develop the great principles of co-operation.  The accounts were signed by I. Bardsley and T. Hodson, auditors.

    The 29th report was very brief, consisting of just three lines of print.  The committee took pleasure in stating that the society was in a prosperous condition, and the dividend to members was 1d. more ― 1s. 4d.  The sales were nearly £300 more than those of the preceding quarter, a very good increase for a September quarter over June, and £17 was devoted to the writing down of fixed stock.

    At this time four days were allowed the staff as annual holidays.

    The committee did just go into detail.  Not only did they buy butter, flour, potatoes, &c., interviewing merchants or their representatives at committee meetings, but they issued to the shopmen a list of names of the committee, and any member with a complaint was referred to them.  They passed a resolution the same year that a daily paper be bought for the use of the society; a resolution a few pages further on is that a ton of cheese be bought.  One of their number was appointed to buy bacon from members.

    Early in the year the committee-room was let to a loan society at a 1s. per week summer months, and 1s. 6d. winter.

    The committee, doubtless, had lively recollections of their reception at the members' meetings during the dark years, and in April, 1866, they agreed that Mr. John Bamford should take the chair at the annual meeting, and that if he were objected to, Mr. Swift should be proposed.

    It appears, however, that no objection was raised.  Times were improving, and so was the position of the society.  On several occasions it was resolved at annual meetings that a good supper be provided for the committee; the position became still better, and the members showed their appreciation by voting two good suppers.

    On Saturday, November 24th, 1866, 650 members and friends of the society took tea at the Mechanics' Institute.  After tea a meeting was held under the presidency of J. Sidebottom, Esq., mayor of the borough, and upon the platform were the committee and several other friends of co-operation.  The chairman, in opening the proceedings, briefly thanked the committee for having invited him a second time to preside at one of their festive gatherings, and assured them he had learned with great satisfaction that their society was prospering, after the adverse circumstances they had met with during the panic.

    The Rev. J. P. Hopps, on rising to address the meeting, was well received, and during the delivery of an admirable address was much cheered.  He referred to the great principle of co-operation, which he believed in more than anything else, after the Gospel of which he was one of the ministers.  He believed in co-operation — not because it might be paying good dividends, but because it was a principle destined to work out the salvation of the people.  If the society which had brought them together that night had been paying no dividend at all, he should still have had as firm a faith in the principles as if a large dividend had been paid.  Failures did not make against the principles, for they were often the result of some bungling, which would be overcome as the principles were better understood.  All good principles had been bungled over in their infancy, and great sciences were once great dreams, and, to some people's minds, great fallacies.  They were now, however, acknowledged as great truths, and it would be the same with the principles of co-operation.  The greater the principle, the longer it took to develop it.  Co-operation was not a new thing; it had been often tried, and had often failed, but the failures had only tended to make it better understood, and would make it firmer in the end.  He would not care much for co-operation if it was to end in a shop, and the occasional paying of a dividend, for if that had been all it was capable of doing, he would never leave his home on a Saturday night to advocate its principles.  The speaker laid it down as a principle that "We must seek the good of every one in the good of all," and then argued that the man or woman who had not mastered that great principle of co-operation was not a co-operator.  He next glanced at some of the advantages of co-operation to the members of a society, and said that although persons might join from purely selfish motives, beneficial results would follow.  One important advantage was that of buying with ready money, for a working man who traded at a shop with a book was always behind, inasmuch as his wages were mortgaged.  Such a man when he received his wages, could not close his hand upon them and say "These are mine."  He related an incident of a reverend gentleman borrowing 5s. of a deacon just before he mounted the pulpit stairs to preach.  After the sermon the money was returned to the deacon, to his evident surprise, who naturally inquired of the minister what he wanted it for, when the latter replied that he was able to preach a better sermon with money in his pocket.  Mr. Hopps contended that it was the same with working men, and if they could carry their wages in their pockets until the following pay day they would work all the better for it.  He would like to meet the working men of Stalybridge in public meeting some evening and tell them what he thought about co-operation, for he believed he could see in it a solution of all the difficulties that continually sprang up between masters and men, between capital and labour.  Sometime ago he happened to be without a gardener, so he set to work himself, and he felt a far greater pleasure in looking on what had been grown under his own hand-labour, than he did in looking at what other people had grown for him.  No turnips smelled so sweet to him as those he had worked for, while his potatoes, which were half bad, were to him the best in the parish, and all because he had laboured for them himself.  He concluded his address by remarking that the dream he cherished was that the co-operative principle would hasten the time when masters and men would seek each other's welfare and happiness by seeking the good of everyone in the good of all.

    Mr. Ridgway said the dream of Mr. Hopps was in the right direction, for if ever the great problem of capital and labour were solved it would be by the principles of co-operation.

    The Rev. J. R. Stephens, in the course of his address said, "It is very good of you to ask me to take tea with you to-night.  I have been at almost every kind of meeting, made up for the most part of the hand-workers in the trades of England, at which their leaders have had anything to say which they believed would tend to raise the low, strengthen the weak, and unite the broken-up and wide-scattered members of their order.  But this is the first time I ever had the privilege of being present at a festive gathering of those who seek, by means of what they call co-operation, to break the bondage of the men who earn wages for doing another man's work, by teaching them how easy it is by their joint action of numbers, to pass into the charmed circle of the middle, money-making classes of their fellow-countrymen.  Even in the undertaking in which you are most of you interested, this Stalybridge Good Intent Industrial Society, you have already found that your sphere of action is a limited one.  You once had over a thousand members, and now have but six hundred; you once had four or five stores; you now have but one.  You have been driven to admit that you are nothing but a simple joint stock company, and that your business must be managed just as private firms manage theirs.  You have run risks, and have had serious losses.  You now see that you did not make due allowance for the friction of your machinery.  Nay, there was one period in your short history, when you were only saved from entire shipwreck by the persistent efforts of one or two individuals.  You deserve success, and I hope you will achieve it.  My sympathies are always with efforts of this description, because I know that those who make them are amongst the most meritorious of their class.  They are men who would either do away with selfishness, or make selfishness an instrument of good to others.  Your right to co-operate in trade rests on the same ground as that of any single individual to trade on his own private account.  I think the peculiar characteristic of your co-partnery gives you an opportunity of fostering habits of thoughtfulness and frugality in those who were aforetimes improvident and wasteful, and you have so far conferred a great benefit on society.  It is one of the serious drawbacks of our crowded towns that the individual is lost in the masses.  Associations, therefore, of every kind which have a praiseworthy object in view ought by all means to be encouraged.  There are some hundreds of you here to-night, and each one of you seems to know many of those around him, and you are evidently happy in each other's company.  Good fellowship, leading to the interchange of kind acts one towards another, is of more value than the mere profit you derive as shareholders in the concern.

    The Mayor, in returning thanks, said his ideas of co-operation had been enlightened by the addresses he had heard during the evening.  It had been stated to be in its infancy, but if so, as it grew up and strengthened it would be productive of great benefit.  The remainder of the evening was devoted to music and dancing.

    In January, 1867, the society's pound shares were bought at 17s., an advance of 3s. per share since May 1865.  In April, 1867, they were at par.  There was offered and accepted 19s. in 1869, but in 1870 they were once more 20s.

    In the records of March, 1867, there is a reference to the Order of Druids, the Druids' tea party committee being allowed a dividend of 1s. per £ of their purchases.

    The shopmen were paid partly by bonus.  The minutes read "that the servants be paid 2£ per cent for conducting the business."  Whether the bonus system or some other matter formed the bone of contention is not clear; whatever the cause, the men did not for some time agree.  They even became somewhat destructive, and were mulcted in various sums.  On one occasion 5s. 6d. was deducted from the commission or bonus for damage to a treacle puncheon.  On another, 10s., one-half the loss by a base sovereign taken over the counter, was refunded from the bonus.  A patent coin detector was ordered from Mr. Sykes, and the shopmen were afterwards held responsible for all base coins passed by them.  The secretary was requested to quell any disturbance that might arise amongst the men, and two of the committee were sent to warn them against quarrelling.

    The committee's report in March, 1867, was — "In presenting this report we are gratified in saying that the society continues to prosper.  The dividend will be 1s. 6d. in the £ for members and 1s. for non-members."

    The sales were £3,559, nearly double those of the corresponding quarter two years before.  Members' share claims were £2,222; they had varied only from that to £2,431 since 1863.  The rules provided that a member in distress could withdraw any sum he might have in the funds of the society above £2, at the discretion of the committee, and that discretion had been exercised in the direction of suspending the withdrawal of shares during those years of struggle.

    From this point the business continued to grow.  There were but the two departments, grocery and drapery, but sales were increasing.  In June, 1867, it was arranged that members should be paid dividend on men's and boys' clothing purchased from Mr. J. D. Smith, tailor, &c., 126 and 128, Stamford Street, Ashton, Mr. Smith paying the society a commission.  On November 23rd, 1868, Mr. John Dyson, tailor, Melbourne Street, Stalybridge, submitted an offer.  Messrs. Unsworth and Ashworth were deputed to wait upon Mr. Dyson for the purpose of making terms, and Mr. Dyson's name was announced along with Mr. Smith's in the next report.  From the amount received as commission it is estimated that after a year under this arrangement the tailoring trade averaged a little more than a suit per week.

    Many years before this there had been general conferences of societies all over the country.  They were discontinued for some years, but the northern societies held conferences in various places on Good Friday, under the "Conference Committee of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Co-operative Societies."  In 1867 the conference was held in Manchester, and Mr. John Thorp was appointed to represent Stalybridge Society there.  The following year Mr. Peter Unsworth was the Stalybridge delegate, and the conference was held at Halifax.  Another year later, 1869, the general conferences were re-established, owing in a great measure to the efforts of Mr. E. O. Greening.  A guarantee fund for the expenses of the experiment was formed, and Mr. William Pare, one of the oldest disciples of Robert Owen, was honorary secretary.  The Stalybridge Society made a contribution of a farthing per member.  From that date to the present time the gathering has been known as the Annual Congress.  Mr. Pare had been Registrar of births, marriages, and deaths, in Birmingham, but was compelled to resign the office when it became known to the Bishop of Exeter that he sympathised with Mr. Owen's views.

    It has been said by a speaker at one of our gatherings in Stalybridge that co-operative work did not require kid gloves in those days, and certainly such articles would have been out of place in some of the work undertaken by our predecessors.  One who had been on the committee not long before undertook to empty the ashes.  The man was evidently a handy sort of fellow, for later on he arranged to personally point the warehouse wall.

    The Ashton-under-Lyne Reporter of October 17th, 1868, gives the following account of the vicissitudes through which the society had passed, and of the annual party:—

    Few co-operative societies in the country ever went through such a chequered career as the Stalybridge Good Intent Industrial Co-operative Society.  Formed some nine years ago, when work was plentiful and wages good, it soon consisted of thousands of members.  They seemed to be imbued with the opinion that the society would soon be able to do all the business in the town, and stores were opened in two streets, and branches formed at Millbrook, Hurst, and Waterloo.  The cry was for more members and still further extension, but at last the policy proved to be a dangerous one.

    Suspicions sprang up, members left, branches cut their connections, quarrels ensued, annual meetings were productive of scenes of an unpleasant character, shares depreciated, and everything seemed to be going to the dogs, when a band of true co-operators arose and cried for retrenchment, and after a great fight the rules were amended.  Shops were reduced, property bought, the business was conducted in a more business-like manner, and instead of shares being offered in the lump at eight and ten shillings each, they cannot be bought by the public under £1. 1s.  This is a great and beneficial change, and great praise is due to the men who have brought it about.  On Saturday last (October 10th) the annual tea party was held in the Mechanics' Institution, when over 600 persons were present, and a very social tea was enjoyed.  The materials were supplied from the stores in Grosvenor Street, and it is the barest record of a simple fact to say that they reflected the highest credit on the manager.  After tea, Mr, John Ridgway occupied the chair, and an excellent quadrille band was in attendance.  The proceedings commenced by Mr. Joseph Greenwood, the secretary, reading the thirty-seventh quarterly report, from which the following is taken:— "The dividend to the members for the quarter is 1s. 8d. in the £, and to non-members 1s. 3d.  All stores close on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m., Tuesdays at 2 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 9 p.m.  Cash received for groceries during the quarter, £3,369. 9s, 2d.; drapery, £237. 18s. 5d.  Among the disbursements were — Groceries, £3,271. 1s. 1d.; drapery, £261. 19s. 11d.; wages, £81. 3s.; shares purchased, £10. 1s. 6d.; interest and dividend, £284. 11s. 6d..  The liabilities were — Members' claims, £1,915, 17s. 8d.; interest, £48; bills owing, £199. 3s. 10d.; balance profit, £282, 9s. 3d.; making a total of £2,489. 0s. 10d.  The assets were — Cash in hand, £170. 2s. 7d.; goods in stock, £1,639. 11s. 8d.; fixed stock, £120; property, £513; invested in Rochdale Corn Mill Society, £29. 6s. 7d.

    The Board of Management consisted of Messrs. Wm. Harrison, John Bamford, Matthew Hutchison, John Hampshire, Marshall Ashworth, John Thorpe, Peter Unsworth, Joseph Kay, Robert Bullock, George Woodhead, John Lawton, Joseph Cottrell.

    At the end of 1868 a quarter's sales, for the first time since the days of the cotton panic, topped £4,000.  Mr. James Lawton, who had followed Mr. Johanan Booth as treasurer in 1862, retired, and a vote of thanks to him was passed.  He was succeeded by Mr. John Ridgway.  There was passed through Mr. Ridgway's hands, December quarter, 1868, £4,222 for goods sold.




ON Saturday evening, October 30th, 1869, members and friends to the number of 800 held their annual tea party in the Mechanics' Institute. Mr. John Bamford was called upon to preside.  He said he knew some of the young people had come purposely to dance, but he was sure the addresses which would be delivered would be both edifying and instructive.  Mr. Greenwood urged the members to do their best to induce their friends to join; it was not a thing to be lightly passed over, he said.  They ought not to rest satisfied with becoming members themselves, they should tell their neighbours, like women tell secrets, and then it would be certain to spread.  He concluded by showing that the society was in a fair way to becoming very prosperous, notwithstanding the many drawbacks.

    Mr. Thomas Hodson, one of the auditors, said he had been an auditor for three or four years, and had had full liberty to pry into their business, and from what he knew of their affairs, and from what he knew of their officers, he was sure that all concerned were doing their best for the welfare of the society.  He complimented them on having such a manager; he was not hasty, neither was he slow, and he could truly say that he got through a great deal of work.  To have a good manager was a great thing, for as he worked, so worked others — they all imitated him.  He heard a great deal about dividends from other towns, and he thought they ought not to rest satisfied until they had gained a firm footing for themselves.  He thought they had accomplished great things, but he advised them to curtail the expenses, and not to allow any wrong to go on for a moment.  He trusted their society would still prosper, and become a great and useful institution.

    Mr. J. Ridgway was then called upon to say a few words to the ladies.  On former occasions he had spoken about them, but he had received a hint that he must not say much about the faults of the ladies.  He believed that if the stores had to depend solely upon the gentlemen they would soon go wrong.  It was the ladies who did the buying, and the prosperity of the store was mainly owing to their influence.  He showed the evil influence which drink had upon the people, and also the great change which would take place were that money spent in clothing and food; how it would make families happier, and their members more useful in society.  He thought their society could now be placed among the great institutions of the town, and if they could keep the ladies on their side they would prosper.

    Mr. Hutchison said that if there were more co-operative stores there would be less work for the mayor and magistrates to do on Monday mornings.  He reverted to a time when the society was in difficulties.  At that time they left to others what they ought to have done themselves, but he was glad to state that the shares were now worth twenty shillings in the £, and if they went on as they were doing they would soon be worth twenty-five shillings.

    The Shepherds' Band, which had been engaged to lead the dancing, at that moment arrived in front of the institution, and the room was cleared.  The rest of the evening was spent in dancing, or listening to the music by the band.  Mr. J. Duffy acted as master of ceremonies.

    Mr. Marcroft said he had paid a visit to the store that day, and he was happy to find that they were in a satisfactory state, and that the society was not troubled with a great fixed stock.  The best and safest means of reducing their working expenses was to increase the quantity of goods sold.  If it happened that they saw flour at another shop marked lower than at their own store, he would advise them to make a calculation, and he would guarantee that they would be as well served by themselves as at any other place.  He said he had thought a great deal about Co-operation, and was sure that it he had become a member of a co-operative store years before he did, he would then have been able to leave off working, and live at his ease.  The speaker here said that in Stalybridge there was a great waste going on, they were using more gas than they had any need to.  He would advise them to note how many shops there were in the borough, how many workshops, public-houses, &c., and then to calculate how many co-operative stores it would take to carry on the business done, and they would be surprised to find how much the borough would be the gainer by working on the co-operative principle.  He would advise them to canvas for their co-operative store as they did for a councilman or member of Parliament, and to act charitably, as did the Great Reformer 1,800 years ago.  He alluded to the troublous times of twenty-five years before, and stated that when they were told in Oldham that Ashton people were coming to commit depredations, the co-operators told the police they had no need to drive them back, for they ― the co-operators — would do that; it was they who could say "This mill is ours, and we will protect it."  He referred to Mr. James Smithies, one of the famous twenty-eight pioneers of Rochdale, and concluded amidst loud cheers.

    On the 21st February, 1870, the committee accepted terms offered by Messrs. Killorn, tailors and drapers, George Street, Ashton, for the supplying of men's and boys' clothing to members, the society to receive a commission.  Business was still done with Mr. J. D. Smith, of Ashton, and Mr. John Dyson, of Stalybridge, and it appears that for the quarter ended June, 1870, the society received commission on between £70 and £80 business from the three tailoring houses.  The society's general dividend had, however, been creeping up; it had reached 1s. 10d., and the commission paid by the tailors was considered too small.  Hence it was resolved, April 25th, 1870, that the society cease to do any more tailors' business on the present commission.  A month later it was arranged that the tailors should themselves pay the society's members 5 per cent on the business done.

    The dividend was 2s. to members and 1s. 7d. to non-members in September, 1870, and in December quarter the sales were £5,469.  For the first time since October, 1862, a reserve fund appeared in the accounts, June, 1870; it was £35 in June, and had increased to £55 in December.

    On the 7th May, 1870, the Stalybridge baths were opened, and the society's shops were closed for the occasion from 2 to 6 o'clock.

    There was an effort in 1871 to popularise the Co-operative News.  Copies were sent to the Mechanics' Institution, the Conservative Rooms, and the Reform Rooms, and it was announced in the reports that the News could be obtained, price one penny weekly, from the check clerk.

    It has been related how the employees were fined for damage done.  On the other hand the committee appear to have been desirous of rewarding merit.  In one instance in 1872 they passed the weighty resolution that W. R. be awarded a shilling for his alertness in detecting forged checks.


The staff in the early 'seventies.

    At a special meeting of the members held Thursday, 21st August, 1873, Mr. John Ridgway presiding, revised rules were adopted.  They included a provision that no person who had a relative employed by the society should serve on the committee.  This was altered some time later to "near" relative, and although a question has once at least arisen as to the definition of "near," it is thought that the provision is a wise one, tending toward avoidance of a difficulty, not unknown to other societies, in maintaining discipline where members of committees have sons or daughters employed.

    It was in the year 1873 that Mr. Joseph Greenwood retired from the secretaryship.  The annual meeting held May 1st tendered its warmest thanks for the able and straightforward manner in which he had discharged his duties.  Miss Hampshire, who had charge of the drapery whilst Mr. Greenwood was secretary, said of him that there could not be a more conscientious man.  It is said, too, that on retiring he expressed a hope that on no account would a presentation to him be made.  That hope seems to have been characteristic of the man.  He was for some time connected with another institution in the town, and when he retired the other members of the committee decided to recognise his services.  A watch was bought and an inscription engraved upon it, and Mr. Greenwood was invited to meet his colleagues.  He did so, but he declined the watch.  It was known that he could not bear anything approaching ostentation, and the watch was placed in the care of Mr. Ridgway with a request that it should be handed over privately.  It was offered on more than one occasion and the reply was that it would one day be accepted.  Mr. Greenwood made certain inquiries, and then announced his willingness to accept the watch.  Mr. Ridgway expressed his pleasure and handed it over.  Mr. Greenwood took it with one hand, and paid the cost with the other.

    Miss Hampshire (now Mrs. Worsley), as already related, had been in the drapery when the department was in Caroline Street, and went with it to Grosvenor Street.  She was appointed drapery buyer in 1873.  Interviewed in 1909, Mrs. Worsley said she was with the society ten years.  The first week she was there £8 was taken.  She had an offer from the Rochdale Pioneers Society, but decided not to leave home.  She said that for some time it was uphill work at Stalybridge, but the £8 turnover was increased to £50.  They would ask a member "What do you want for dividend this time?"  The answer was "A pair of blankets or "a shawl" or whatever other article was most required, and sometimes when dividend week came round as much as would would be taken.  The group comprising the entire staff in the early seventies is taken from a photograph now in the possession of Mrs. Worsley, and kindly lent for the purpose.  It was taken by Mr. W. Emmett, and many members of the society obtained copies.


    In April, 1873, an advertisement appeared in the Co-operative News for a competent person to act as secretary and buyer.  Mr. Philip H. Robinson, who was described by Miss Hampshire as an ambitious young mall, and who had been employed as shopman since 1866, was appointed to the position on the 21st April, in succession to Mr. Greenwood.  Mr. J. H. Milligan, now Central grocery manager, was appointed as a boy to the drapery department the same year, and remembers Mr. Robinson well.  He says he never knew a smarter shopman.

    Mr. F. R. Beeley, the present school board officer, was a contemporary of Mr. Robinson.  Mr. Beeley was made head shopman on the 21st April, 1873, and was required to find bond for £50 a year later.  On the 29th April, 1874, there was a rearrangement of the duties, and Mr. Beeley became manager and buyer, Mr. Robinson retaining the office of secretary.  Mr. Beeley remained as manager until 1876, when Mr. J. Mellor came.

    It was about the beginning of 1874 that Miss Hampshire left, and on the 18th February Miss Woolley (now Mrs. Mellor) was appointed by a sub-committee consisting of Messrs. Peter Unsworth, John Heap, and Allen Heppenstall.  Miss Woolley had the management of drapery until June, 1887, and under her care the department experienced a more than three-fold growth.  Her first year the drapery sales were £2,242; in her last they had increased to £7,012.  Mr. Frank E. Maden, who commenced his business career with the society, followed Miss Woolley as drapery manager, and Miss J. B. Ellis was appointed to the department in July the same year.

    The society became a member of the Co-operative Wholesale Society in 1874, a recommendation of the committee being adopted at the annual meeting held 8th April.  The Rochdale Pioneers had had a wholesale department which had to a certain extent supplied the societies in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the honour of being the founder of the Co-operative Wholesale Society belongs to Mr. Abraham Greenwood, of Rochdale.  The Rochdale Pioneers' store was started by a two-penny subscription; the great Wholesale Society itself was actually set going by a contribution — not a subscription from week to week — of one farthing per member from societies which had agreed to become shareholders.  The benefits were thus foretold by Mr. Greenwood, the founder —

1.  Stores would be able to purchase more carefully and cheaply, by reaching the best markets.

2.  Small stores would at once be placed in as good a position for selling the same quality and as cheaply as any first-rate shopkeeper.

3.  All the stores having the benefit of the best markets, the dividends would be more equal; and in the same way, the working expenses being reduced, the dividend would be greater.

4.  Large stores could carry on their business with less capital, because they need only take from the Wholesale depot what they required for immediate use.

5.  Stores could get the services of a good buyer, since one experienced man could as easily buy for 150 stores as for one.

    On the 11th August, 1863, the English Co-operative Wholesale Society was enrolled, and on the 14th March, 1864, business was commenced.  Doubtless the co-operators of Stalybridge saw the advantages of membership of a concern which had a trade turnover, when they joined it, of nearly £2,000,000.  Did they anticipate, we wonder, the present magnitude of the same Wholesale Society?  Commencing as stated with a farthing contribution, it has a grocery department employing 300 persons, a drapery with 200 employed, corn mills with a greater output than those of any other millers in the country, biscuit works employing 500, preserve works 600, tailoring factory 500, boot factories between 3,000 and 4,000, soap works turning out hundreds of tons of soap per week, iron works, weaving shed, and many other departments employing together more than 18,000 people, with a trade turnover of £25,000,000 and a bank turnover of £100,000,000 a year, a reserve fund approaching half a million, and in such a position that it can make donations of thousands of pounds at a time for charitable purposes.




THE next step forward was an extension of the Central premises.  Negotiations had been proceeding since December, 1872, until on the 17th April, 1874, the committee were empowered by a special meeting of members to purchase two blocks of buildings in Back Grosvenor Street, consisting of eleven cottages, and to proceed with an extension to the rear of the Grosvenor Street shop.  Two or three years before, the building and fixtures were valued at £400; the cottages were bought for £766, and the whole, including shops and houses, was valued in the balance sheet of December, 1874, at £766.  Thus the cost of the original Grosvenor Street shop had been entirely written off, and the society was well prepared for expenditure on alterations and new premises.  Mr. James Lawton was retained as architect, and in July, 1875, Mr. Levi Warrington's tender for new buildings and alterations to existing buildings was accepted.  The contract provided for the building complete and finishing of a certain shop, offices, cellars, store rooms, hoist, and other buildings on land and premises adjoining and contiguous to Grosvenor Street and Back Grosvenor Street.  Whilst building operations were going on, the shop, No. 10, Grosvenor Street, was rented, and the drapery business was conducted entirely there.  It is not the present (1909) drapery building that is here referred to.  It was in 1884 that the existing drapery and boot premises were erected, and in 1905 that the drapery front was rebuilt.



    In November, 1875, the entrance fee and contribution to shares were fixed at what they are now, 1s. the former, and 2s. 0d. per quarter the latter until two shares are paid up.

    Messrs. John Jackson and John Heap were auditors, and Mr. Seth Charlesworth secretary.  Many will remember Mr. Charlesworth, who had but one arm, and that his left.  The right had been amputated as the result of a knock.  He was a clerk with Mossley Society prior to coming to Stalybridge, and was appointed secretary here on the 29th October, 1874.  Mr. J. R. Jackson succeeded him in 1880.

    The prices of some commodities were at this time, 1874, much higher than at present.  Flour, for instance, was selling at 2s. 1d. a dozen.  Not very long before that lump sugar was 6½d. per lb., and the profit was so precarious that purchases of sugar were not subject to dividend.  This year, 1874, the committee resolved that "Checks be given on sugar, but that no person be served with more than is required," the intention being, probably, to prevent a run on the article by speculative people.

    It appears from the accounts of the time that there was no longer any restriction on the withdrawal of shares, but the cash received from members on account of shares was largely in excess of the withdrawals.



    In March, 1876, it was announced that arrangements had been made for the purchase of a sufficient supply of copper pound checks, to take the place of the paper pound checks then in use.  The new checks were issued the following quarter, and for the purpose of distinction differed in shape successive quarters.

    In June, 1876, the Back Grosvenor Street extension was nearing completion, and the architect prepared plans for an alteration of the old shop.  The front was completely renovated by Messrs. William Storrs and Sons, and in March, 1877, the building was completed, the grocery department occupying the front, and drapery being removed to the rear.



    It was on the 1st September, 1876, that Mr. J. Mellor was appointed manager.  He came from the Rochdale Pioneers' Society, as did Mr. J. B. Mason, our present manager.  When Mr. Mellor came there were but grocery and drapery, and a year's sales amounted to £34,134.  He saw boots, tailoring, butchering, and coal departments opened, and retired in April, 1895, when a year's sales totalled £56,303.  He was present, hale and hearty at one, at least, of the Jubilee gatherings in 1909.

    On October 11th, 1876, the large room of the Town Hall was hired for the half-yearly meeting.

    Many will remember the old office, with its outer office used for paying dividend and taking in checks, at the top of the staircase leading from the present Central grocery.  The dividend and check office, as it was known, was simply a space outside the general office enclosed by panelled woodwork open at the top.  It appears that more than one means of obtaining access had been adopted, and the committee found it necessary to pass a resolution that an extra key to the dividend and cheek office be provided, and that no one be allowed to climb over the top.

    On the 7th May, 1877, three shops and four cottages in High Street, Stalybridge, were bought at the Commercial Inn; on the 18th June the assignment of the property was sealed, and at once preparations for opening a branch store were made.  Mr. Fred Gee was placed in charge of the branch September 3rd, and Mr. Edward Hassall went with him.

    Inquiries as to steam power had been instituted, and on the 15th October, 1877, it was decided that an engine and boiler be purchased from Messrs. Goodbrand and Holland, of Manchester.

    At the end of 1877 the committee congratulated the members on the continued success of the society.  Their reports for several quarters had been without a doleful note; now they were giving expression to a feeling of confidence that the results would prove satisfactory to all concerned.  The quarterly sales for the first time since pre-panic days ran well into five figures, being £10,059 for the thirteen weeks ended September 29th, and £10,056 for the eleven weeks ended December 15th, averages of £773 and £914 per week respectively.  There were still only grocery and drapery, but High Street Branch, opened in September, had taken in fourteen weeks £2,305, an average of £164 a week.  The sales at the Central grocery department alone averaged no less than £686 per week for the six months ended December 15th, and the drapery average was £55 per week.  The dividend was 2s. 6d., and there were substantial amounts devoted to the reduction of buildings and fixtures, the entire balance of the Back Grosvenor Street cottages being written off.  The committee would be feeling their way toward a demolition which took place later, the cottages being replaced by shops.  There was also a first grant from the profits of £10 for an education fund.  There were 1,341 members, an increase of 333 during the year, and their shares totalled £7,845.  The society's holding in shares of the Wholesale Society had increased to £272 ; in Star Corn Mill shares there was £202; and in Rochdale Corn Mill shares £94.


    In disposing of the profits, June, 1878, a sum of £43 was added to the reserve fund, making £1,000 exactly.

    The committee and employees met at tea in the society's meeting-room on Friday evening, January 3rd, 1870.  Mr. John Heap, of the committee, took the chair.  Messrs. Heppenstall and Betts rendered the instrumental part of the programme, and songs were given by Messrs. Samuel Whitehead, John Hague, and James Hague (who had been engaged for the occasion) by John Heap, Maria Fogarty, and others.  Mr. Wm. Hall gave a very timely recitation, entitled "A Happy New Year to Yo' O'," and John Pinder whistled the "Eclipse Polka," with variations.

    On the 28th February, 1870, the present Millbrook Branch was opened.  Prior to that there were arrangements for the delivery by cart of goods at Millbrook; in 1872 it was once a fortnight only.  The proposal to erect a branch there was accepted at an adjourned meeting of members held 24th October, 1877, Mr. John Swan being the mover and Mr. Samuel Wallwork the seconder.  There was some opposition, an amendment being moved and seconded that no branch store be established outside the borough.  Early in 1878 negotiations with the steward to the Earl of Stamford and Warrington were concluded, and the plot of land between the church school and Hartley's property taken, Messrs. John Buckley and William Hall meeting the steward.  Mr. James Lawton, the architect, prepared plans for a store and eight houses, and builders' work was commenced about June, 1878.  Mr. Robert Wilkinson was the builder, and the contract price was £2,100.  Later Messrs. Broadbent and Shaw's tender for counters, shelves, and bins, £65, was accepted, and Messrs. Askew Dawson and Co. undertook the gas-fitting.  In December, 1878, the houses were announced ready for tenants, and the rents fixed.  The decoration of the houses was let to Messrs. Smith and Stansfield in the July following.  Mr. James Broadbent took charge as branch manager.  From the start the Millbrook members seemed proud of their shop and it did well.  From the opening day, February 28th, to the end of the quarter, March 19th, the sales were £242, and for the first complete quarter £1,119.

    As early as 1879 Millbrook Fair is referred to, a subscription being paid in May of that year.

    On the 15th March, 1879, the members celebrated, at the house of Mr. Moses Slater, Hare and Hounds Inn, Millbrook, the opening of the branch.  Upwards of 160 persons sat down to tea.  The Mossley Brass Band was present, under the leadership of Mr. Squire Wrigley, and Mr. Wm. Hall, ex-president of the society, took the chair.  Mr. Thomas Moss, in a few remarks, said if the members would rally round their new store he was sure it would prosper.  There were songs by Mr. John Hague, Mr. H. Ingham, and Mr. John Lawton, the last-named giving, by desire, "Millbrook Band;" and Mr. James Wood, the celebrated trombone player, gave a solo, "Death of Nelson."  Mr. Hall moved and Mr. Ben Lee seconded a vote of thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Slater.



    The quarterly conference of the district was invited to Stalybridge in 1879.  The Oddfellows' Hall was hired for the occasion, provision for an attendance of 120 persons made, and Mr. John Ridgway was asked to preside.  The arrangements were placed in the hands of Mr. Samuel Sidebottom and Mr. John Street, and invitations were sent to the auditors, Messrs. John Jackson and John Heap, Mr. Forbes of the Reporter, Mr. Foreman of the Standard, and to the committees, secretaries, and treasurers of Ashton, Uppermill, and Mossley societies.

    For many years a loan account was open.  In 1869 sums of £1 to £50 at a time, and £300 in all were received from individual members, and the rate of interest was as high as 5 per cent.  Members were steadily increasing their shares, however, and loan-holders were gradually paid out.  In 1877 the rate of interest on loans was reduced to 4 per cent, and in 1880 the account was closed.  Indeed capital was so plentiful that some three years later, when there was a proposal that man and wife or other member of the family should be allowed to open separate accounts, it was promptly vetoed, and the year following that the share account was closed to all but incoming members.

    A start in the boot trade was made in April, 1879.  It was announced that a large assortment of boots and shoes manufactured by the Co-operative Wholesale Society at Leicester, was held in the drapery department.  About the same time coffee-roasting on the premises was announced.  The price, ground or unground, was 1s. 8d. per pound.  Very large orders for this article were given, as much as five tons at a time of new East India coffee being bought.

    In 1880 and for several years there were excursions to Blackpool and Liverpool on Stalybridge Wakes Tuesdays, and they were very popular, large numbers of people joining them.  The arrangements were largely in the hands of Mr. Burgess, of the London and North-Western Company, and were admirably carried out.




THERE appears to have been a long discussion at the quarterly meeting held July 6th, 1881, of a proposal to take up shares of the Stalybridge Cotton Mill Company.  There was a motion that 200 shares be taken, an amendment that only 100 be taken, and a rider that it be 400.  Tellers were appointed, and it was found that 45 members voted for 400 shares, 2 members for 100 shares, and 15 members for 200 shares.  Four hundred shares were taken up and Mr. John Heap was appointed to represent the society at the company's meetings until the date of the next annual meeting of members.  The shares are still held.


    There was before the quarterly meeting held January 5th, 1881, a proposal for a branch store "on the Lancashire side of the borough."  At least three or four different properties were inspected between that date and May, when a special meeting of members empowered the committee to purchase Mr. Simpson's property at Mount Pleasant.  There were 35 votes for and 2 against.  In June, 1881, Mr. James Lawton's plans were adopted.  The tenders of Messrs. Garside, Barnes and Co. for the building, and Messrs. Shaw and Cuzner for counter and shelving, were accepted.  Messrs. John Buckley, F. B. Wilde, John Shaw and William Hall were appointed a Building Committee.  Mr. Edward Hassall was appointed manager of the new branch, No. 3, and it was opened about April, 1882, a party in commemoration of the opening being held on Saturday the 22nd, in the Mechanics' Institution.  About 900 sat down to tea.  After tea the chair was occupied by Mr. F. B. Wilde, president.  He said he hoped the opening of Mount Pleasant Branch, which they were met to celebrate, would be an auspicious one.  If there was one thing more gratifying than another in connection with that festival, it was the position of the society, which had been entirely under the control of working men.  They were there that night to show what working men could do, by the help of the ladies.  Co-operation was slowly but surely making progress, especially in Stalybridge, not only in distribution, but in production too, and as a proof of it he might refer them to the partially-built mill of which they were one of the largest shareholders.  Co-operation had helped to elevate the members, and the ready-cash system taught them the value of money, and made them more thrifty and industrious, better thinking men and women.  The society had become a great undertaking, and was in a prosperous position, thanks to the efforts of the past committee and others who had done so much to overcome the many trials and difficulties.  With reference to the Mount Pleasant Branch the committee had spared neither time nor trouble to bring it to a successful issue.  It had so far been a thorough success, and the building was a credit to the society and an ornament to the town.  (Cheers.)  The report of Mr. J. R. Jackson, secretary, was presented, and there was an entertainment by Mr. J. H. Greenwood, of Manchester, Messrs. Butterworth and Holland, and others.  There was an assembly for dancing in the Oddfellows' Hall which was largely attended.

    From the opening to June 14th, the end of the quarter, £1,764 was taken over the counters of the new branch.  As the Central sales were barely £1,000 down from the corresponding quarter of the year before, and the other branches had only small increases, it may be assumed that the opening of the new branch had the effect of increasing the turnover by £700.

    The Reporter, commenting April 29th, 1882, said that the Co-operative Society appeared to have passed through another successful year, having received £47,509, giving a weekly average of £913.  The report was satisfactory at a glance, and must have been a source of gratification to the members, who were described as the thriftiest of the inhabitants of the borough.

    There was another effort this year to increase the sale of the Co-operative News.  The weekly order was increased and it was sold at half-price, as at present.  The profit available for dividend had been creeping up, although there were some set-backs.  The dividend had been 2s. 9d., then back to 2s. 6d. for one quarter, 2s. 9d. for two quarters, 2s. 10d., 2s. 9d., 2s. 9d., 2s. 10d., 2s. 11d., until in June, 1882, the committee found themselves in a position to declare a dividend of 3s., with a surplus of £56, which was disposed of by writing down properties and adding to the reserve fund.  At the end of 1882 the members numbered more than 2,000, and the sales for the first time exceeded £50,000.

    At a quarterly meeting held January 3rd, 1883, a donation of £10 to a fund for a testimonial to Thomas Hughes, Q.C., was passed.  As Professor Adamson, of Owen's College, said, when presiding at a lecture on "The History and Objects of Co-operation," by Mr. Hughes, in Manchester, April, 1878, Mr. Hughes was recognised as one of the foremost of those who had devoted themselves to the noble task of social improvement.  In the lecture referred to Mr. Hughes spoke of himself as a co-operator, and expressed a hope that the principles of association adopted at the first conference in 1852, and acknowledged ever since by the societies, would be carried out.  He was no believer, he said, in millenniums; he had no faith in any good coming to any class or to any man without much hard work, and much self-denial.  But this much he was prepared to say, that to a certain extent co-operation had already organised consumption, and to some extent production also, for at least 3,000,000 of English citizens.  That meant, he said, that the scramble of life, the struggle for existence, had been made easier for all those English folk, and all who were the least aware what that struggle implied would ask for no nobler testimony of work for any movement.  All he would ask was why, what had been done in 25 years, imperfectly, no doubt for 3,000,000 should not, in 50 years, be done far more perfectly for 10,000,000.  What Mr. Hughes thought might be, has been achieved for that number of people.  He went on to suggest that what might be done for 10,000,000 might be done in time for a nation.  The very thought of a nation, he continued, whose industry was organised on co-operative principles filled the mind with visions of a time when the great problem of the nineteenth century would be solved, and the union between labour and capital stand out as a fact, and not a dream.  Mr. Hughes was also joint editor with Mr. E. V. Neale, then general secretary to the Co-operative Union, of the admirable "Manual for Co-operators," prepared at the request of the Co-operative Congress held at Gloucester in 1879, and published for the Co-operative Union.

    Business at High Street Branch had quite outgrown the premises, and in March, 1883, a plan for its extension, by Mr. James Lawton, was accepted.  The contract for builders' work was let to Mr. H. France, Messrs. R. Dawson and Company's tender for heating by hot water was accepted, and Messrs. Garside, Barnes and Company did the paving.  There is here another reminder of the methods of former days in grocery, when large treacle cisterns filled from an upper floor were the rule.  Such cisterns were adopted at a cost of considerably over £20 for use at the branch.

    It was on the 3rd January, 1883, that the members decided to subscribe annually to an institution that has been of inestimable service to sufferers over a very wide area, the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.  Mr. J. B. W. Buckley moved, and Mr. George Britain seconded, the present subscription.

    In the following month the society became a shareholder of the Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Society Limited.

    It was also in that year, at a special meeting of the members held on the 15th May, that it was decided to take up 400 shares in the Crookbottom Manufacturing Company.  Mr. J. H. Tyson was the mover, and Mr. George Britain the seconder.  There was an amendment moved by Mr. Wm. Booth, and seconded by Mr. Joshua Shaw, that no shares be taken up.  Some three years later a further sum of £500 was advanced as a loan.  The engines were started February 14th, 1885, but the concern did not prosper.  For several years a policy of writing down was followed, until in June, 1801, the shares, which had been fully paid (£2,000) were taken in the accounts at £1,650.  That quarter the end came and the balance of £1,650, together with the amount of the loan, £500, was taken from the reserve fund.  Later there was a dividend of £72. 18s. 4d. received from the liquidators, the net result being that the reserve fund was depleted to the extent of £2,078, from £2,365 to £287.  Thus the total loss to the society would be £2,427.

    Mr. James Lawton, the architect, was requested in November, 1883, to prepare plans and specification for the alteration of Back Grosvenor Street premises, and on the 2nd January, 1884, the quarterly meeting of members gave the committee power to proceed with the extension.  Tenders were invited, and that of Messrs. Shaw, Cuzner and Co. for builders' work was accepted in March.  Other work such as fixtures for office, boot department, and millinery was undertaken by Mr. A. Chorlton; additional seats for the meeting-room, the enlargement of which would be included in the builders' contract, were obtained from Mr. J. Jefferson; and the heating of the premises was placed in the hands of Mr. John Swain, of Hyde.  The extension here referred to would include the present boot department, and the front portion of the present drapery, but not the rear portion of drapery, which was built some six years later, a stable being taken down to make space for it.  The drapery front was still further improved in 1905.

    A tea party and entertainment was held in the Mechanics' Institution, February 23rd, 1884.  The number of people who partook of tea was considerably over 1,000, the hall being crowded.  There was a quartette composed of Miss Janet Smith (soprano) and Miss Maud Yates (contralto) of the Manchester concerts, with Mr. Charles Moody (tenor) and Mr. Joseph Cartlidge (bass) of Stalybridge.  Besides this, the talented comedy artistes, known as "The Merrions" (Will, Harry, and Fred) appeared in their mirthful, musical entertainment, and Miss Lilian Roberts, the clever young reciter of Stalybridge, also contributed to the enjoyment of the evening.  Mr. Enos Andrew was the accompanist, and Mr. F. B. Wilde occupied the chair.  At the Oddfellows' Hall a dance was held, Mr. Lockwood's string band supplying the music.  At this meeting also the attendance was very large, and it was suggested that the gathering should be made an annual one.  The annual report of the secretary, Mr. J. R. Jackson, showed that during 1883 the receipts had been higher, and the profits larger, than in any year of the society's history, and that the members had been steadily increasing in number year by year.  During the recent strike, he said, there was only £27. 11s. 6d. withdrawn, and during dividend week, just at the termination of the strike, there was credited to members' capital dividend and interest amounting to £516.  The year's sales were £58,416, an increase of £6,576, and nearly £12,000 more than two years before. The dividend paid or credited, at 3s. per £, was £8,744, and properties had been reduced and the reserve fund added to.  The latter amounted to £1,820.

    The entertainment consisted of popular songs by the artistes named, all of whom were frequently applauded.  The elocutionary abilities of Miss Lilian Roberts were well known, and will still be remembered by many.  In the newspaper account of the time it is stated that she secured the favour of the large audience from the commencement.  The performances of the Merrions were of an exceedingly clever and humorous character, and kept the audience in continual laughter.

    The first advance to a member with house property for security was made June, 1884.



    Huddersfield Road Branch was opened about the end of June, 1884.  There was an application for a branch in September, 1882, from the members in the district, and on the 18th October of that year a special meeting of members was held.  Mr. John Lees moved, and Mr. John Hopwood seconded — "That a branch store for Huddersfield Road district be established."  There was an amendment that there be no branch store there.  The motion carried by 52 votes to 32.  Inquiries as to different plots of land and buildings were made, one of the lots being the Grouse Inn, owned by Mr. George Cheetham Hussey, but they were dropped, until on the 25th of April, 1883, a special general meeting of members empowered the committee to purchase a plot belonging to the executors of the late Robert Platt, at the corner of Huddersfield Road and Mottram Road.  Mr. Gregory Gill was retained as architect, and Messrs. F. B. Wilde, James McCall, William Hall, and Samuel Bower Wood were elected a Building Committee.  On the 9th November, 1883, the tender of Messrs. Garside, Barnes and Co. was accepted, and later Mr. A. Chorlton undertook to supply fixtures.

    On the 20th June, 1884, Mr. J. H. Milligan was appointed branch manager, and when the time for commencing work there arrived the writer accompanied him as assistant, and Mr. Ernest Lees, the present manager of High Street Branch, became check boy.  The first complete quarter, December, 1884, the sales at the new branch were £2,219, an average of £170 per week.


    There had been inquiries made at different times from the beginning of 1880 until this year as to the coal trade.  In April, 1884, the neighbouring societies of Droylsden, Ashton, and Denton were visited by Mr. Wright Hadfield, and Mr. J. R. Jackson, secretary, for the purpose of obtaining information on the subject, and in August the same year one coal drop was rented.  Two thousand tons of coal and two carts were bought in September, and by the 1st October the society was in a position to deliver loads of coal to members.  The price of best round house coal was 7½d. per cwt., and double screened nuts 6½d. per cwt., delivered within certain limits; outside those limits ½d. per cwt. extra was charged, and members carrying coal by their own carts were supplied at ½d. per cwt. less.  Mr. Geo. Wilkinson, the present head of the coal department was, as a boy, appointed on the 29th September, 1884, to the coal office, and Mr. Edward Jones, the first carter, was appointed the same date.  At the end of October a lorry was bought and the delivery of coal in bags commenced.  Business increased and on the 26th December a second coal drop was rented.  The average of the weekly sales, December quarter, was £38, in March it had risen to £59 per week.




THE boot department was separated from drapery and opened in Back Grosvenor Street on the 30th March, 1885.  Mr. J. H. Austerberry, the present manager of the department was appointed on the 13th March, and it was announced that boot repairing and clogging was undertaken.  The sales in the department to June 10th were £670, an average of £67 per week.  Since that time it has progressed until the turnover is nearly £5,000 a year.  Amongst those who have contributed to this success in the boot department, in addition to Mr. Austerberry, may be mentioned Miss Crosby, who died in the society's service; Miss Maden, who administered very efficiently the ladies' section for many years, commencing 1896; Miss Hannah Woolley, who was associated with her; Mr. W. S. Stubbs, a practical bootmaker, who served the society well for some years and who is now boot department manager to Slaithwaite Society; and Mr. J. B. Senior, also practical, the present energetic assistant.



    The Manchester Ship Canal had the support of the members in 1884, a sum of £50 toward the Parliamentary expenses being voted on the 2nd April.  On the 7th October, 1885, it was decided that 100 £10 shares be taken up, and in June, 1891, the last call was paid.

    On the 1st October, 1884, the society's contribution to the funds of the Central Board of the Co-operative Union was increased from £5 to £10 per annum, the present contribution.


    The metal checks were discarded in December, 1885, and the book system introduced.  Deputations were appointed to visit Shaw, Oldham Equitable, and Mossley societies to see the book system in operation, and Harry Woolley and the writer were appointed to work it.  From 1887 onward a proposal to dispense with the book system was several times put forward, but it survived until 1901, when the "Climax" system at present in use was commenced.

    The sales in 1885 were £64,635, an increase of £4,691 over 1884 and £17,128 more than those of three years before.  The dividend to members was £9,738, interest on shares £1,076, properties, &c., were written down £500, £46 was added to the reserve fund, and £40 was granted for educational purposes.  Grants to the Copley and other relief funds were made and there was a donation to the Co-operator Lifeboat No. 2.

    At the end of 1885 a bolder step in the direction of millinery and dress and mantle-making was taken.  A lady to undertake the management was advertised for, and on the 15th December Miss S. H. Seville was appointed.  The department was opened Monday, 4th January, 1886, over drapery in Back Grosvenor Street, and from that date to the end of the first quarter, March 10th, the sales were £123.  The first complete quarter ended June, the weekly average of sales in the department was £33. 19s.  Miss Seville remained only a little over twelve months, and on the 15th March, 1887, a Stalybridge lady, Miss Swan, was appointed head dressmaker.  Miss Swan resigned in August, 1890, and was succeeded by Mrs. Ingham.  Less than two years later Mrs. Ingham left, and Mrs. Bradshaw was appointed in March, 1892.  The department occasioned some anxiety, and more than once during the years 1886 to 1895 committees of inquiry were formed.  On the last occasion they went so far as to close it.  It was reopened in March, 1895, with Miss J. Lawton, of Mossley, in charge, and in their June report the committee wrote that it was very successful.  Miss Lawton continued the management of dressmaking very efficiently until 1902.

    It was in 1886 that coal wagons were first bought.  The coal trade had been growing, the amounts paid for wagon hire were very large, and it was thought that a number of wagons would be a good investment.  Twenty-three years' experience has amply proved that.  Twelve wagons were ordered in April, 1886, this number was increased later, first to twenty and then to twenty-eight wagons, the present number.  In December, 1889, the committee reported that twenty wagons had been running about 3½ years and that they had cost to date, including repairs, £1,095.  They had earned during the period £539, and had been written down in the accounts to £598.  The policy of writing down the wagons out of their earnings has been followed to the present time, and after renewals and repairs have been met out of earnings there are still twenty-eight wagons in good running order and of good earning capacity valued in the books at less than 30s. each.

    Another sign of growth at this time was the necessity for new stables.  A tender by Messrs. Garside, Barnes and Company was accepted on the 7th May, 1886.  The number of horses owned was increasing and it was thought advisable to hold one man responsible for them.  In December the same year a clever horse-keeper in the person of Joseph Robinson was appointed.  Mr. Robinson remained with the society until May, 1901, when he was succeeded by Mr. E. J. Yates.  Mr. Yates was followed in March, 1903, by the present horse-keeper, Mr. David Warren, who is still so successful at the stables.

    An education fund was raised in 1885 and 1886.  Efforts in this direction had been made some years before.  In April, 1877, the members in annual meeting decided that a reading-room be established, but it appears that the scheme was not proceeded with.  Inquiry was made as to the number of reading-rooms in the town, and the question was again before the members' meeting in October, 1880.  The meeting resolved, by 25 votes to 7, "That the proposal to establish a newsroom be not accepted," and it was decided at the same time that the sum of £50 set aside for education purposes be added to the reserve fund.  Commencing in 1885 small grants of £3 to £20 from profits were made and a newsroom was opened on Monday, 4th January, 1886.  It was not very successful.  One reason, perhaps, was the fact that it was three flights up in the present Back Grosvenor Street building.  Proposals to close it were brought forward at the quarterly meetings in April and July, 1886; they were negatived, but the agitation was kept up and in October, 1887, the opponents of the newsroom were successful and it was resolved that the reading-room be dispensed with.  In June, 1888, the education fund was closed by the transfer of a small balance to the general reserve fund.  This opposition to the newsroom could be better understood, perhaps, had the profits been precarious.  At one of the same meetings, however, a sum of £192 from a single quarter's profits was set aside as a dividend reserve fund.  In this year, 1886, a slight fire occurred.  It originated in the office, some painters' material on a gas ring igniting.  The borough fire brigade was called in, and by its aid the damage by fire was confined to the office.  There was further damage by water, however, to the grocery and boot stocks beneath, and the claim on the Co-operative Insurance Society, which was promptly met, was £93.



    In June, 1887, butchering appeared in the accounts for the first time since the 'sixties.  A shop in High Street had been rented in March, and a competent butcher advertised for.  Mr. Walter Ireland was appointed in April.  A shop in Grosvenor Street owned by Mrs. Wilkinson was taken in October, and a cottage at Millbrook was converted to a butcher's shop in November.  Mr. Ireland was succeeded by Mr. John Grayshan in January, 1888.  The profits in butchering at this time were very small.  In June, 1888, a dividend of 2½d. only was made, and this had the effect of retarding the return to the coveted 3s. dividend.  A general dividend of 2s. 9d. was declared.  The following quarter, however, butchering made 11d., and the committee found themselves in a position to declare a dividend of 3s., with a balance of £45, which was added to the reserve fund.  In April, 1889, the members accepted a recommendation of the committee that a butcher's shop be erected at Mount Pleasant, and the tender of Messrs. Garside, Barnes and Co. was accepted.  Some two years later the house at Huddersfield Road Branch was altered, and became a butcher's shop.  In 1893 this shop was closed and the premises were re-converted to a house.  It appears there was no butchering at Huddersfield Road for four years, until in 1897 the present butchering branch was built in what was formerly a grocery unloading place.  It was on the 22nd April, 1895, that Mr. Arthur Allen, the present butchering manager, was appointed, and since then, whatever difficulties the department has had to encounter it has always been felt that it is in safe hands.

    At Heyrod butchering was carried on for many years in the same shop as grocery, until in 1908 the present shop was built by Messrs. Wilson and Roberts.  This completes the account of the establishment of butchering at the Central Stores and branches 1 to 5.

    At the other branches, Kay Street, Cheetham Hill Road, and Stocks, butchering was provided for when the branches were built.  The small shop at Millbrook was eventually given up, and in 1896 Messrs. Garside, Barnes and Co. built the existing shop in the grocery unloading place in Grenville Street.  In 1897 the present Central butchering, No. 35, Grosvenor Street, and opposite Central grocery, was taken, and the shop first rented was given up.  High Street butcher's shop was rebuilt by Mr. T. G. Shaw in 1898.

    It has been mentioned that Mr. Frank E. Maden followed Miss Woolley as drapery manager.  Mr. Maden had charge during a portion of the time that millinery and dressmaking was on its trial, and is remembered by many members, particularly ladies who came in contact with him in the shop, as a man of unfailing courtesy and one who gave admirable service.  He left in September, 1889, to take the management of the drapery department of a larger society, and is at the time of writing with Eccles Society in that capacity.  He was succeeded at Stalybridge by Mr. G. Fieldhouse, who remained with the society until 1894, and who proved a very keen buyer and manager.

    Electric light was first adopted in 1890, Messrs. W. A. Shaw and Co., of Stockport, placing an installation in drapery and boots departments.

    The membership reached 3,000 in September, 1891, and the sales for the year were £77,150.


    Heyrod Branch, No. 5, was opened in 1892, a shop and six cottages being purchased from Mrs. Garside in February.  Mr. Fred Robinson, the present manager of Castle Hall Branch, took charge of the branch in April.  The sales to June 11th were £259, and the first complete quarter £592.

    It has been related how, in the 'sixties, tailoring agencies were taken up.  About the beginning of 1886 arrangements were made with three Manchester houses for a tailor to attend in the drapery department two hours on each of two evenings per week and three hours on Saturdays.  Members were supplied in this way with ready-made and bespoke garments, the representatives of the three firms taking measures, submitting samples and prices, and taking responsibility as to fit, &c.  An important step forward was taken in 1891-2.  A cutter was advertised for, and in February of the former year Mr. E. H. Field commenced his duties.  Mr. Field did not remain long.  On December 28th of the same year our present tailoring manager, Mr. Joseph Green, then of Haslingden, was appointed.  A top floor at the rear of drapery was set apart, and there Mr. Green founded the tailoring and gentlemen's outfitting department as we know it to-day, a department which is eminently successful, and which, thanks to its manager and efficient staff, gives no anxiety.

    In August, 1892, there was a tailors' lockout in the town, but the men working on the society's board were kept at work.  The need of a ground floor shop was felt, and in November, 1894, No. 44, Melbourne Street, was taken.  It was altered internally, and on March 20th the following year tailoring was removed there.  This gave the department a fillip.  The stock and staff were added to, and business increased until it was altogether too great for the premises.  In June, 1900, the present commodious tailoring premises in Grosvenor Square were bought and refitted throughout.  They were opened for business Friday, July 12th, 1901.  Mr. Green had the training as cutters, amongst others, of Mr. T. A. Shaw, who filled for some time a position as cutter with Farnworth Society; and of Mr. Walter Ellingworth, who is at present very successfully managing the tailoring department of the Prestwich Society.  From that small beginning at the top of the Back Grosvenor Street building the department has grown until its turnover approaches £6,000 a year.  There was great distress amongst the workers in the cotton trade in 1892-3.  In January of the latter year a scheme for weekly grants to distressed members was inaugurated.  It was continued for eleven weeks, the society incurring an expenditure of £72, which was supplemented by a grant of £35 from the Co-operative Wholesale Society, making a total distribution of £107.



The last occasion on which the annual gathering of members took the form of a tea party and concert was in February, 1894.  On the 23rd February, 1895, the first of the soirιes was held in the Drill Hall.  Mr. Wm. Wild provided an excellent concert, Mr. and Mrs. Nuttall contributed the humorous element, the old band played for dancing, and the veteran, Mr. John Duffy, acted as master of ceremonies.  No fewer than 2,948 tickets were sold.


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