Leeds Co-op: Jubilee History 1847-97  (2)
Home Up Autobiography Rochdale Pioneers Derby Co-op Jubilee Co-operation Bygones Public Speaking Among the Americans The Reasoner Miscellaneous Site Search Main Index


[Previous Page]



THE store idea had slumbered but not slept.  The agitation was renewed.  Queenswood community commenced too soon, ceased before it should have been born.  Any reputed failure of a new idea terrifies two English generations.  In progress, a step not well provided for, is a step backwards.  The Queenswood cloud hung over Leeds, and distrust checked every proposal of social reformers.  Even Lloyd Jones had not recognised the power or place of the new co-operation, destined to such distinguished success; and his scheme of 1,000 members was not for a store society, but for a community.  But always for progress, he went with the new movement which Rochdale began and had now proved its vitality.

    The question of adding the sales of provisions to the sale of flour had gained strength during repeated discussions.  At the end of fierce debates an average spectator would think that both sides were of the same opinion still.  But as all discussions show, the auditors are not of the same opinion next day.  The knowledge of new facts dissipates prejudice and informs the judgment.  The profits being made by the Rochdale Provision Society were now becoming considerable, and were attracting outside attention.  When a meeting was called in April to consider the question, Mr. Lloyd Jones delivered a powerful and telling speech, and it was resolved unanimously that the directors be empowered to extend the business of the Society to the sale of groceries and provisions.  A committee was appointed, of whom Lloyd Jones and James Hole were members, to carry out the object of the resolution.  This was the second deliberate step onward, taken by the forward movement.

    This year was made lively by complaints of the quality of flour and the general management of the mill, in which the complainers were quite wrong, and were therefore more confident than men usually are when they are in the right.

    There are peculiarities of experience in the Leeds Society different from other stores, and which other societies will find instructive.  One distinction lay in the excellent reports made by it.  Another feature is the occurrence of maxims which all societies need, which many never hear, and which many who do hear them forget, namely, that a co-operative society is an honest association, whose members have no interest in cheating each other.  A great deal of very hard work is done for nothing, and those whose interests are thus promoted gratuitously should not be quick to make aspersive charges, and should be sure of their facts when they do complain.  New members cannot be expected to know these facts; they will be the better when they do.

    The directors took the complaints by the throat and shook the errors out of them.  They appointed an Investigation Committee, [10] made on a motion by Mr. Jones and Mr. Pease. The "People's Flour Mill" had now become a public institution.

    The investigation was not delayed, and did its work with singular thoroughness.  It inquired into everything—rumour, suspicion, or complaint; it was also a report of great ability of statement, and produced a good effect.  One charge against Mr. Emmerson, the mill manager, was that he went to the mill on Sunday morning to get his books ready for the directors on Monday.  He had so much to do that he had, against his will, to sacrifice part of his Sunday to keep his accounts well in hand.  This was really a complaint against an important servant for doing too much and being too zealous in the service of his accusers.  The duty of the complainants was to move that an assistant be appointed to relieve him of his overwork; to profit by his industry, and complain of him for it, was meanness as well as narrowness.

    The management of the mill was proved to have been excellently conducted—economically, efficiently, and profitably.  Vivid charges were found to be based on rumour, and those who made the charges had no proof to offer.

    By a certain peremptoriness, or abruptness of manner, it was admitted that Mr. Emerson had given offence to members.  This obliterated in their eyes the sense of the real zeal, business knowledge, and devotion by which the manager had served the Society.  Fault of manner is an unfortunate fault, but it is a lesser evil than the loss of the services of an able servant, and at that time Mr. Emmerson's services could not be replaced.  It was better to put up with irritation than risk the prosperity of the mill, by which all profited.

    Then a transformation scene arose which the Society has not seen since.  The directors were requested to dismiss the manager—tried, true, and capable—by a resolution so instructing them.  They refused to deprive the Society of a servant whose worth they knew.  William Campbell made a motion to dismiss them and their secretary, Mr. Gaunt seconding the motion, which showed that there was believed to be real necessity for the motion.  A society may be destroyed by dissatisfaction, however good its management.  Since then we have seen Governments destroyed through the contemptuousness of one or two Ministers.  There are always people who think more of discourtesy to, or neglect of themselves than of the interests of the State or a society.

    Nevertheless, when directors refuse to carry out instructions lawfully given, their duty is to resign.  The motion made ended with the dismissal of eleven directors only, Lloyd Jones being one of them.  Mr. Samuel Haigh was elected vice-president, and afterwards president, and served the Society well for many years, and also as the grocery manager and buyer.  Among the new directors elected was Mr. Bell, afterwards president.  He had long been a hard worker for the Society.  Whether on the board of directors or not, he was always to the front when there was any work on hand, in speaking at the meetings or elsewhere.  The curious thing was, when the new directors got into harness, they found that the affairs of the Society had been much better managed than they supposed, and did not remove the officer they were elected to dismiss.  Mr. Emerson remained in the service of the Society long after, and ultimately resigned of his own free will, which proved that the directors so summarily dismissed were right in their judgment.  They were as good servants as the Society ever had.

    A review was made this year of the nine years' position of the Society, when it was found that a profit during that time had been made of £9,456.  The statement was signed by W. Emmerson, clerk.

    Discussion had produced conviction.  A new thing was now seen.  A grocery committee was in operation, and was granted £700 for the purchase of their first stock.  It was thought a commanding front shop was necessary for business, and one was taken in Briggate at a rental of £100 and all rates.  Though the members voted unanimously for the opening of the shop, it did not meet with the support which was expected.  The flour agents proved impediments which were not calculated upon, and the Leeds public saw the first co-operative shop opened in their midst as a novelty which did not excite their enthusiasm.

    This was a fighting year.  A "trustee" came out with a remarkable address prophetic of the future of the Society, and even of the old-age pension so much talked of now.  It said: "I Accumulate capital (without which we shall always be powerless); provide all other food, as well as flour; grow our own corn, as well as grind it; extend and build our own houses, and soon the clear income of the Society will be sufficient to pension off all old and incapable members with 10s. a week and a house rent free."

    When Charles I. [Ed. Charles II.?] lingered longer than suited the convenience of his courtiers he "begged their pardon for being such an unconscionable time in dying."  But it is not my fault that this year's affairs are on such an unconscionable length or, like King Charles, I would apologise for it.  It is all owing to the interest of the events.

    The Parliamentary Committee on Adulteration issued their report this year.  We must look at it, it concerns this history.

    The Chairman, my townsman and friend, William Scholefield, said to the Leeds mill manager, "I suppose the Leeds Society thought they could make flour cheaper than the millers?"

    Mr. Emmerson: Yes, and we have done it.  We have sold at 2d. per stone less than the millers.

    Mr. Scholefield: What do you do with your seconds?

    Mr. Emmerson: We do not make any seconds.  Seconds are made by a different process.  We have only one process.  There are many ways of adulterating flour without being subjected to penalty.  The Society adopted none, as they had no interest in cheating themselves.  Egyptian wheat is about 20s. per quarter less than the corn bought by the Society.  Yet it is very deceptive.  It looks beautiful to the eye, but it has not much nutrition in it.  Millers use it largely to adulterate flour with, and purchasers, who knew nothing of quality, did not like the pure flour of the Society, which was not so white.  Just as the Egyptian wheat is used to adulterate flour, so sharps are used to lessen the price of oatmeal.  It cannot be detected by the eye.  You cannot discover but what it is oatmeal.

    Mr. Villiers asked what check the Society had against adulteration in its own mill ?

    Mr. Emmerson: The directors are appointed to see there is no mixture.

    Mr. Villiers said the Society sets up as being superior to its neighbour.  What security have you that you are better than other people?

    Mr. Emmerson: The directors are the security.  They have no interest in adulteration.  Mr. Emmerson added: Mr. Dresser, a chemist in Leeds, has written to the Leeds Mercury saying that bread he had purchased from five principal bakers was found to contain 5 lbs. of alum to 20 stones of flour, and, in the purest instance, 2lbs. of alum to 20 stones of flour.  Barley is about 40s. a quarter, and wheat 70s.  One quarter of barley to three quarters of wheat would make good average flour, and perhaps would lessen the price 3d. or 4d. per stone.

    Mr. Emmerson further said: I made a mixture to bring before our general meeting of one-quarter barley to show what could be done.  It was acknowledged by the members at the meeting—who did not know what it was made of—to be very good bread.  They said they did not wish to have any better.  The cost of that was 4¾d. per stone less, but it would not be pure flour, nor have the quality of pure flour.  It would have been a fraud upon the members in the name of cheapness.  The members could not find out that anything was wrong with the bread, but it would not be as nutritious as it ought to be, nor would it be pure as we profess to give it.  Had the Society intended to enter into competition with the millers, it could have undersold them and made a large profit.

    Mr. Peacock and Mr. Moffat, members of the Committee, wanted to know whether the Society took any trouble to find out whether adulteration on the part of their neighbours took place, and to prosecute them.

    Mr. Emmerson: The Society set up to conduct an honest business themselves, and not to act as public prosecutors for the town.

    It was asked why workmen, who were injured by adulteration, did not prosecute them.

    Mr. Emmerson: There was a difficulty in workmen becoming prosecutors. It would be awkward for them, since they were mostly everywhere in debt with shopkeepers.  Besides, how could they give the time to attend three or four days at magistrates' courts, to take out a summons, get up evidence, and conduct the prosecution?  A few very independent workmen might do it, but they must make considerable sacrifice for the good of others.

    [This even gentlemen did not do on behalf of their poorer neighbours, whom they knew were daily consuming deleterious food.]

    Mr. Emmerson incidentally explained to the Committee the domestic habits of Leeds in that day.

    Yorkshire people bought their flour, made their own bread, and had their own ovens.  The Society had then 3,000 members.  They had bankers, merchants, and magistrates connected with the Society, but principally working men.  The Society's flour is what we designate "made from pure wheat."  The oatmeal is made from pure shellings of oats.

    Being asked the question, "Do you never put potato starch into your flour?"—

    Mr. Emmerson: We never put anything of any description into it, it is all pure, genuine flour, and has been from the beginning.

    Viscount Goderich asked: "Is not inferior flour sold at lower prices?"

    Mr. Emerson: Yes, but we make but one kind and of the best wheat.  Mr. John Blakey, at Keighley, Rushworth Brothers, of Ingrove, near Keighley, Mr. East, of Nottingham, and other adulterating millers, were named as having been fined, and some did hard labour who did not pay the fines.

    Viscount Goderich, whom we know as the Marquis of Ripon, was on the Committee, so was Mr. Villiers; the present father of the House of Commons.  William Scholefield, the chairman of the Committee, was the author of the Act which established limited liability in business, and enabled co-operative employers to share profits with their servants without becoming responsible for their debts, or the servants being liable for their masters' debts.  When I was a publisher in the city of London, I shared profits with those I employed, which made them my partners in law.  They could carry away my books or property and did it—I had no redress. [11]   Mr. Scholefield's Act altered all this, and made co-operative participation of profit in business, legal.

    The millers had their friends on the Committee who were sharp on Mr. Emerson, and endeavoured to corner and confuse him; but he had his wits about, and very good wits too.  His evidence was given with directness, clearness, and force.

    Mr. Farrand, of the Rochdale Corn Mill, was also examined.  He said "they found persons judge wheat by the colour.  They preferred white, which was injurious, to darker flour entirely wholesome.  The eye seemed harder to please than the stomach."  But as the purchasers became instructed that whiteness was produced by alum and other mixtures, their preference for it began to decline.

    Alum, a medical witness explained, has a bad effect upon the teeth, the gums, and the mucous membranes of children.  It creates irritability in the bowels, producing constipation and at times the contrary.  It was given in evidence that chicory is adulterated with Venetian red and treacle to give it a brighter colour.  It also increases the weight.  In one manufacturing department 700 tons of carrots and 350 tons of parsnips were used for adulterating purposes.

    Here were arguments in plenty in favour of providing members with other articles than flour, sold in a pure state.  Had all the dramatic facts and picturesque incidents of this inquiry been selected and circulated in Leeds, it would have been worth £500 to the Society.  It was worth that as an advertisement and vindication of the Society in the eyes of tradesmen, adversaries, and members.  Readers, high and low, would have read it with amusement, wonder, and instruction.  Parliamentary authority was worth a thousand testimonies of partisans, however honest.

    Mr. Lloyd Jones's wise motion was rejected by persons who had no outside mind.  Mr. Jones had, and knew that the progress of co-operation depended upon the view which the public took, and the impression its proceedings made upon them.  It will be seen that working men and their families were being poisoned three times a day by dangerous flour, and were charged more for it than good flour ought to cost, and that by good judgment and combination they had freed themselves from these dangers.  Every man becoming sensible of these risks would have been disposed to join the sole rescuing society.



THE failure of the Briggate shop, which occurred this year, gave comfort to prophets of disaster.  Store keeping had won no success, which alone could silence the guttural cries of those born with frogs in their minds.

    The change of title which presaged the sale of provisions still caused perturbation.  Then uprose all the inexperienced, timid, foreboding, suspicious, and imputative members.  "The new speculation," they said, "would ruin the prosperous society.  The directors would never make the new trade pay.  The competition was too keen and too great—besides, they had no knowledge of the new business; "all of which was said against starting the mill.  Furthermore, the advocates of the change were accused of "being anxious to make places for themselves."  The voices of the croakers were loud in the land.  When the march of progress was commenced, the frogs of obstruction leaped about in shoals and did all they could to embarrass the advance, and went very nigh to fulfilling their own predictions.

    For the information of the chance reader, it is necessary to recount the constitution and career of the agents who now begin to figure as insurgents.

    There was good judgment of business device, in which the Leeds Society has excelled, in the early organisation of the "Flour Agents," the term by which they became technically known.  The agent was prohibited from selling any other flour than that of the Society, and at a price fixed by the committee and communicated to him from time to time; so that a purchaser always knew whose flour he was buying, and that the price was not determined by the caprice or the cupidity of the agent, but was the authorised price appointed by the responsible managers of the Society.  The agent was paid 1s. 6d. per bag of twenty stones (280 lbs.), a reasonable amount being allowed for leakage.  The agent was required to pay into the bank a sum sufficient to cover his order, and produce the banker's receipt.  Thus loss was avoided.  The agencies were eagerly sought for, though not lucrative; but what gain there was, was without risk, unless the agent gave credit, when it was upon his sole responsibility.  Many agents sold from twenty to thirty bags of flour per week, and thus made a fair living; some of them also were, as we have said, small shopkeepers, and sold other goods on their own account.  If the price of flour rose, the agent paid the excess upon his stock; if the price fell, he received a rebate upon his stock, but, in a few cases only, an agent would continue selling flour at the higher price.  In one instance an agent, who had been allowed £3. 13s. 4d. rebate on twenty bags, continued to sell at the old price the stock of flour on which he received the rebate; but he had, when detected, to refund the amount and lose his agency.  The man was not dishonest at heart and always regretted the error into which he had fallen, and it remained as a serious sin upon his conscience, and on his death-bed he expressed his sorrow for it to Mr. Campbell.

    The agency system, above described, remained without change until the Society established stores of its own. The new Briggate store was not at all to the agent's mind. It did not make the progress its well-wishers expected; assailants shot at it from concealed trenches; but the directors were clear in their decision that it must be sustained. They had become convinced that if towns of much inferior extent to Leeds could make a grocery department succeed, Leeds could do it; and they voted £500 more to strengthen the Briggate store, but without success, as the reader has seen. The flour agents were most of them, as we have said, little grocers also, and they naturally resented the creation of the Briggate grocer's shop, at which all members were expected to deal. Their customers for flour, more or less, dealt with them for groceries. Many of the members had what were called "shots," or credit scores, with the flour agents, and could not leave them if they would; and the agent-creditors did not facilitate their release, but bestirred themselves to dissuade members from dealing at the Briggate store. Then they demanded of the Society a commission of 7½ per cent, which was given them. Afterwards, a demand of 10 per cent was made. They represented that they had obtained 10 per cent from grocers for selling their goods. They could not warrant the grocers' goods, but they could the flour mill's goods, which meant a preferential increase of custom to them. But of this advantage they were silent. They were accorded the 10 per cent—nevertheless the Briggate store languished.

    The Briggate store got worse and worse.  A traveller was appointed to wait upon members and families of greater income than working men, to induce them to deal at the Brigade depôt, with a view to establish family trade.  But this did not mend matters, nor did it shake the settled co-operative purpose of the directors, who had steered the flour ship through stormy waters.  They stood stoutly at the helm of the new craft, which they believed they could steer into smooth seas.

    Slowly the directors came to understand there was a rebellion among the agents.  They had reared an enemy for themselves.  They had created a vested interest, which now turned against them.

    In their report for this year (1857) the directors say: "One great disadvantage of this Society has been the want of information among the members—not only on the management of its own affairs, but on the important power of co-operation in general."  The same trouble would have befallen the Rochdale Society, had they not begun with an education rate.

    The directors were beaten by ignorance, yet the opposition of interest would have been ineffectual had the members been enlightened.  After languishing, the Briggate shop showed signs of pectoral consumption.  All unsupported stores die of "disease of the chest."  The bright shop had to be given up.

    When it was closed there was a fine opportunity for the croaking prophets of disaster to predict the impossibility of co-operation ever succeeding.

    Here was an alluring shop in the best business part of the town, with ample funds and plentiful provisions, which could not keep its doors open.  Who could have foreseen then that co-operation would be one day the most splendid success not only in Leeds, but in the land?

    Difficulties of another kind beset the directors.  The white flour trouble returned.  Some members craved white flour; having been reared on alum bread without knowing it to be injurious, they wanted the Society to give them white flour.  There was, as the reader knows, an inferior sort of wheat which gave very white flour, but it was deficient in gluten and innutritious.  It was a great temptation to a society seeking custom, to gratify this unwise demand.  Many directors in other societies have, in such cases, decided for cheapness against principle, saying honesty did not pay.  But the Leeds directors had the courage to refuse to supply dishonest flour, whether they lost custom or not.  In the end the Society was a great gainer, for people had confidence in it, and then it was found honesty did pay.  It is impossible to estimate too highly this honourable courage, which risked loss of members for the sake of maintaining principle.

    Studious of financial confidence, the directors had the books and the accounts of the Society again examined by another of the best accountants in Leeds, Mr. E. Bolton, who certified that the books had been well kept, and that the Society was making steady progress in trade, capital, number of members, and profit.



AN amazing, not to say incredible, announcement was made this year.  At a public meeting, the chairman (Samuel Haigh) said that some persons objected—

1. That the Co-operative Society set up labour against capital.
2. That it consisted of persons of certain sects in religion.
3. That they had an idea of setting up a Plato's republic or an Owen's parallelogram.

    Is it possible that in those days there were persons in Leeds, not in a lunatic asylum, who thought co-operators—whose object from the beginning was to acquire capital—were against capital?

    They must be asylum men who objected to the Society because it contained persons of different sects in religion.  This is an objection to Parliament, to an insurance society, or a railway company.

    The Society never proposed to set up a parallelogram in Leeds.  It would much have improved the town if it could have been done.  The incredible thing is the Plato idea.  The wildest dreamer who had visited Leeds never thought of it.  Probably not 100 persons in Leeds had ever read Plato's work, and not ten who understood it.  However, it is hard to say how mad persons, counted intelligent, were in those days.

    No one appeared to know that in 1819 the Guardians of the Poor in Leeds sent Mr. Edward Baines, one of a deputation, to New Lanark to visit Mr. Owen, the inventor of the parallelogram, and that Mr. Baines reported that "Mr. Owen's plans were superior to any the deputation ever witnessed, and dispensing more happiness than perhaps any other institution in the kingdom."  So it was not the co-operators of 1858, but the Guardians of the Poor of 1819, who first brought praise of the parallelogram to Leeds.

    The Rev. Dr. Hook, who was, deservedly, received with great enthusiasm, related, among other things, a similar instance of cultivated insanity to be found in the educated circles in which the Rev. Doctor moved.  He said that when he mentioned the Leeds Society it was remarked, "Oh, it is the Co-operative Association; a Co-operative Association is contrary to the principles of political economy."  This objection, which it is denied now that it ever existed, was in full blast then.

    Dr. F. R. Lees, the Rev. M. Philips, Mr. R. M. Carter, Mr. David Green, and Mr. Campbell spoke at this meeting effectively, and Dr. Baker, Factory Inspector, at great length.

    Trouble with the flour agents still continued, and a resolution was passed requiring all agents, who would not sell the Society's groceries, to give up the flour agency, as others would be appointed in the neighbourhood who would do it.  The agent who had been created by the Society, and nurtured by it, became open enemies within its own borders.  Those members who had been opposed from the first to the provision business, joined with the agents in harassing the directors.  Several of these adversaries were so demonstrative and defiant of the chairman that they had to be fined.  One member was twice fined one shilling at the same meeting.

    More and more began to be felt the want of information on the part of the members, on the nature of co-operation, which put power into the hands of the working class for the improvement of their own fortunes.  This led the directors to institute meetings for the delivery of addresses and the education of their members and the public.  Though the store in Briggate lost £176 in its first half year, the flour department made a profit of £1,982.  The Briggate store lost every half year until it was ended.  Therefore, it was resolved to send a deputation to Rochdale to make inquiries how they managed their business.  The inquirers came home and strongly recommended the adoption of the Rochdale plan, which was that of selling by their own agents for ready money payment.  The flour agency which worked well for the mill had now proved a most unfortunate bar to the extension of the grocery business.  To overcome this obstacle it was unanimously resolved to adopt the Rochdale plan of retailing flour, groceries, and provisions by the employees of the Society, and the first half-yearly result was a profit of £44, which continued to increase ever after.  The plan involved the financial education of members in cash payments.  The habit of credit was strong upon them, and formed a second nature, which subjected working men to perpetual impecuniosity and humiliating dependence upon others.  Selling its flour, groceries, and provisions by its own servants was called a "newfangled plan" of the Society.  But it paid, and profit caused it to grow in favour year by year.  The spirit of confidence and enterprise was unabated, and the Society bought 2,272 square yards of land adjoining their own premises for the sum of £681 for future extension.  This year Mr. James Prentis was appointed secretary, and for sixteen years he was found to be an entirely honest and upright servant.  When age incapacitated him for his onerous duties the directors found him less fatiguing employment.



THE voice of discontent, if it did not cease, grew lower than formerly.  The bulk of the wiser members had found out that, as a rule, the fault-finder was the least suggestive as to what could better be done.  Acrimony is not wisdom.  A quick-tempered, explosive critic is as the French wit said of La Harpe, "He is like an oven—always hot, but never bakes anything."  Policemen were not wanted at the meetings this year.  Disturbers had become discredited.

    During the twelve years of the Society's existence its progress had involved many changes.  The provision trade had been added to the flour trade; successive kinds of business had been entered upon which, being new, were met with distrust.  The agents had been superseded.  To the sale of flour had been joined the sale of other commodities under officers appointed by the Society, who were entirely responsible to it, and were the administrators of its business.  These were so many revolutions in early customs of the store which, like political revolutions in a State, created contest and violent divisions of opinion.

    This year the directors, as in some previous years, did not think it good policy to pay out all the amount gained, but added £271 of the profits to the share capital in proportion to the amount each shareholder had in the books of the Society.

    The grocery profit for the half year ending in June had risen to £150, promising £300 for the whole year.

    This winter the directors got up a series of lectures.  Mr. Bell, who was then president, gave the first in St. Peter's Street Stone Chapel.  His subject was thought characteristic of him, viz , "Labour, Wages, and Profit—or, the Worker his own Helper."  Other lectures were delivered in different districts.  All were well attended, and new members were added to the Society.

    Hitherto the directors had all the labour and responsibility of initiation.  This year, for the first time, the members shared it, and requested the directors to take another onward step.  They had found onward steps profitable.  They had not only overcome their apprehensions to them, but were beginning to prefer them.  Their request was that a clothing business should be commenced.  It was commenced, but difficulties attended it for a long time.  First they had the perils of inexperienced managers, and also of managers who wanted to manage, not only the business, but the directors.  As this was decisively resisted, one of them brought an action against the Society, in which he had to be content with considerable reduction of his claim.  The directors had asserted their just authority, and not only dismissed the manager, but made a clean sweep of all the tailors as well.

    The advantages of distributing their own groceries, through their own stores and their own servants, continued to be shown through successive years.  The "new system," as it was called, during the two half years since its adoption, showed a total profit of £919, which allowed an award of 2s. in the £ to purchasers.

    In 1859 the trustees of the Society made a report "By Order," but no names are attached, showing who the trustees were.  Their report, however, showed great vigilance on their part.  They had looked into the workings of the whole Society, into both flour and provision departments.  They ascertained that all persons in positions of trust were guaranteed in a satisfactory way.  Up to that date each member was expected to hold a £5 share of the capital.  The average amount actually held was not more than £3. 4s.  They recommended the members to take up their full £5 shares.  They further recommended that the servants of the Society be given a stimulus to exertion in the shape of a reward, conditional upon the increased exertions and improved results in profit and economy.  They thought the servants should be bound by interest to promote the progress of the Society.  Mr. Nussey was president, Mr. Haigh vice-president, and Mr. Prentis secretary, when this recommendation was made.  It recognises the right of profit on the part of those whose industry and forethought made it.

    "Remunerative " prices were found to be beneficial all round.  Many members never understand that low prices mean low profits, and those who insist upon low profits do not intend to save, yet they expect high dividends.  The two things cannot go together.



A PAMPHLET of the clarion kind, but bearing no author's name, appeared.  Its title, singular in its terms, was as follows:—"A few plain words of advice respecting the future conduct of the members of the Leeds District Flour and Provision Society towards each other, as well as several Hints and Suggestions, which may be of some service to the reader, if he should think proper to make use of them; but none at all if he does not.  By ONE OF THEMSELVES.  (Leeds: Printed by David Green, Boar Lane.)"

    This pamphlet, surmised at the time to be from the pen of Mr. John Holmes, was written with the clearness, point, and directness which were characteristic of him.  It was a little reproachful in places, but racy of the Leeds soil, with the familiar force of Cobbett.  All the experience then in the minds of members, and all the difficulties of the Society, were touched upon in a manner only possible to a man who knew everything upon the subject.  One passage showed that the views of the writer were larger than mill or store.  It showed that he fully believed the majority of members had the idea, not only of raising themselves, but of raising the class to which they belonged.  "There is no end," he said, "to the success within the reach of the working men of this town if they are but determined to exercise their full power.  Don't talk about mismanagement—that is a thing which can and will be got over in the end.  Go on purchasing at your own store.  Go on saving.  What if the Society does lose a few thousands by mismanagement?  The prize for which you are toiling is social emancipation—good homes, and your own, too, remember; good clothing for yourself and family; good food and plenty, without fear of poverty; work of your own, on your own land, or in your own workshops or factories; your own perfect machinery, too, helping you; and, above all, your children educated in a way that shall make them, though workers, the first men and women in the land, both for usefulness and intellectual attainments; which shall give to your wives and daughters intellectual and moral culture joined with graces unsurpassed by any in the land."  Here was an enthusiast of the first water.  Few societies have had his equal.

    During this year there were several new stores opened, all promising good results.  The Society had clearly learnt the art of going forward.

    About this time some dissentients set up a rival corn mill, which, however, did not last long, and brought no mischief—except to its needless promoters.

    The trustees, who took an active interest in the affairs they represented, gave another report of the position of the Society, which showed as follows:—






£   s  d

£    s  d

£     s  d

Flour ... ...  ... ...   ... ...

5,807 1 0

49,208 13 6

2,693   3 8

Groceries  ... ...   ... ...

6,655 19 0

19,168 13 0

613 12 3

Boots and Clothing

    2,192 17 2

    1,865 5 6½

      36   8 0


£14,655 17 2

£70,242 12 0½

£3,343 3 11

    The boot sales are here given with clothing sales.  The manufacture of boots was not yet begun, whose success is associated with a name of mark in the Society—Mr. William Swallow, sen., who was a member of the first board of directors in 1847, and in 1856 was one of the eleven directors who had the honour to be dismissed for an act of signal usefulness.  His inquiring heartiness of expression is typical of the enthusiasm demanded in pioneer days.  Beyond his own advocacy, he gave to the service of the Society two sons.  One Mr. J. Swallow, the manager of the boot department, and another Mr. W. Swallow, formerly the Secretary of the Society.

    The advantages of the Society distributing its own goods through its own employees and stores were shown in the past year, the most profitable year since they commenced their provision business.  This year a Building Committee was appointed, and Mr. W. Bell brought before the directors the subject of building new stores on the Society's land at Holbeck.  Their warehouse had hitherto been over the stables, a very unsuitable place for storing articles whose excellence consisted in their aroma and intrinsic purity of flavour.  Such a depôt could do no credit to the taste, and was beneath the dignity which the Society had now obtained.  The directors unanimously agreed to new buildings being erected.  Interest was taken in principle as well as in progress, and a committee was appointed to consider the question of "bonus" to labour.  This committee recommended, and the directors adopted, the allotment of sixpence to all agents and storekeepers for every member they entered, and 5 per cent bonus to the storekeepers, over and above their wages, on the gross profits made at each store.  The Society had now adopted the familiar language of co-operation.  It had ceased to talk of "flour agents," and addressed them as "storekeepers."  The old agencies had really become co-operative stores.



    The clothing department was in so precarious a condition that the fainter hearts proposed to give it up, but the stouter minded co-operators maintained that it was not co-operative to give up a business which ought to succeed.  Co-operators never retreat in the face of difficulties which experience and courage can overcome.  It was against their pride as co-operative innovators to show to the public that working men were unable to manage a business for themselves.  The difficulty was purely local.  The year's profit in the flour department was £2,693.  The grocery profit was also good, being £613.

    A trouble common to all immature societies arose again.  Whenever a leading servant was dismissed two parties were formed—one for opposing the dismissal, to which the dismissed person is always an inciter; and another party who rightly sustain the directors, who being responsible for the management ought to be treated with consideration even when they err.  Major Cartwright said, "Juries were so excellent an institution that even their errors should be respected."  In one case, where the Leeds directors dismissed the head miller, the vice-president and some members took the part of the miller.  This is to place the interest of a servant over the interest of a society, and to risk breaking up the society in the contention.  Beyond unimputated representation, made to the directors on behalf of the person believed to be wronged, no members wishing well to the society ought to proceed without very exceptional reason.  If the strongest representation that can be made on behalf of the dismissed member fails to secure his replacement, some restitution should be made by his party to the servant believed to be injured, but the existence of the society should never be imperilled, nor should members withdraw from it.  Whenever a servant is a party to these divisions, he is always encouraged by enemies outside to break up the society by dissension.  In the case of the head miller in question letters were sent to the Leeds Express, and fly-sheet reprints circulated aiding discontent.  Prolonged meetings were held in the Old Court House about it.  Meetings were adjourned at 11-45 p.m., to the great joy of trading adversaries of co-operation.  Mr. W. Bell, the president, eventually steered the ship of the Society through the turbulent partisan billows.



EVOLUTION teaches the doctrine of the "survival of the fittest."  But the fittest would not survive if they did not fight for existence.  The directors of the period made the fight, or no record would be needed to-day.

    Undeterred by difficulties in creating new branches of business, a meat department was commenced, although it is the most difficult [for] co-operators [to] undertake.  For reasons that need not be dwelt upon here, the project has failed in the hands of many stores.  Nevertheless the Leeds directors carried it on for a period with profit, and for more periods with loss.  Eventually it had to be closed altogether, although the Society had built what was regarded as a superior slaughter-house, had a good shop and other first-rate appliances.  One thing they lacked they had been unable to find a manager who could make it pay all round, a difficulty which has led many stores to regard the meat business as impracticable.  The reader will find that on this account other reverses befell the Society in later attempts, but Leeds commonly made everything it undertook succeed eventually.  The establishment of stores on the Society's own account seemed likely to prove the turning point in its successful career.

    Prosperity does not come of itself—it has to be fetched.  The leaders of the growing movement went out to look for it, and bring it in—and not without doing it.  Meetings were held at street corners and in vacant places in the town.  A stool and a table were rostrum and platform.  In addition to stores in the borough, five had been opened outside, as at Clifford, 13 miles distant; Otley, 10 miles; Pudsey, Idle, and Saltaire, 7 to 9 miles distant.

    This year Mr. John Holmes laid the foundation stone of the People's Hall, Mr. Bell stating that the cost of the hall, stores, and fixtures would be £2,229, exclusive of the land.

    These were Garibaldi times, and Leeds showed great friendship for "The General," as he was popularly called.  Many co-operators joined in a Leeds subscription for his use.  The amount exceeded £400.  The treasurer, for reasons of his own, retained the money notwithstanding that Garibaldi had written to him requesting him to transmit the money as he directed.  As Acting Secretary to Garibaldi's London Committee, the writer came to Leeds and made representations which ended in the Leeds subscription being forwarded as is elsewhere related. [12]  It was co-operative opinion which was mainly influential in causing the transmission of the Leeds gift to Garibaldi.



"FANGLE" is a word of peculiar effect on English ears perhaps on British ears, if the Scotch were consulted.  It expresses or embodies the high water-mark of contempt for anything not wanted, not liked, and not understood.  Hence the store system, when added to the organisation of the mill, was called a "new-fangled system."  Many an excellent device has never been tried, and others extinguished when tried by the "fangle" terror.  But "fangle" did not kill the "new system."  It was the rebellious flour agents who were killed.  By this time (1862) they are no longer an impedimentary force, and the Society is not only undisturbed but aspiring.  It has emerged into public repute, and invites persons eminent and official in the town, to take part in its proceedings, which increased its publicity and attracted attention to the work it was doing.  At the annual tea meeting, in the People's Hall, tables were set for about 500 persons.  The platform had a table for the mayor, aldermen, and other eminences invited.  The platform table abounded with refreshments.  A beautiful silver urn was placed at the head, and Mr. Hunt had the place of honour (as the president should) among the distinguished guests of the Society.  When all was ready the alderman who sat before the silver tea urn began to fill the cups, which he observed to have neither fragrance nor colour.

    "Hunt," said the alderman, "what is the matter with the Co-operative Society?  What have we got here?"

    "Tea," said the president confidently.

    "It seems to me," said the alderman, "to be mere water."

    True, it was water.  First-class water, no doubt, but it certainly was not tea.  The president found to his confusion that the tea makers had forgotten to put the tea into the urn.  Mr. Hunt suddenly left the chair vacant, and rushed away to call the tea makers to their senses, and some favourite blend of Souchong and Assam soon distilled its amber stream into the aldermen's cups.  Mr. Hunt declared he would never preside again at a public tea unless they had women to make it.  There was no Women's Guild in those days; the men were caterers at festive parties, and men do not know how to make tea.  There was plenty of good tea in the canisters, but no one thought of putting it into the pot.  The repasts of tea, or dinner, given by co-operators are always plentiful and excellent.  I have been in many agitations, but the co-operative movement is the only one which gave its friends anything to eat.  One distinction and advantage of a storekeeping movement is, that there are always provisions about.

    New Acts of Parliament, and the altered business of the Society, made it necessary again to alter the rules.  This year the Drapery Department was in a very damp condition.  What Americans call the "dry goods" sales, were low, and the directors summoned a special meeting of the members and explained matters to them, telling them they must either purchase more drapery or instruct the board to close the business, but advised its maintenance.

    At this time the cotton famine prevailed in Lancashire, and the members, willingly and generously, voted £30 to be sent to the committee engaged in alleviating the distress.  All co-operative societies were friends of the North in the great American war for the maintenance of the Union and the liberation of slaves.



THE sea of the Society was calm now.  There were buoyant ripples of prosperity in all departments, save one—the clothing—which gave no sign of onward motion.  The loss there continued.  It was still as "a painted ship upon a painted ocean," as Coleridge would describe it.  The loss upon the navigation of that vessel (if that should be called navigation where there is no motion) was not cheering.  As it continued through several half years the directors themselves lost heart, and requested permission of the Society to cashier this ship and close this branch of its business.  Herein the members showed the greater courage and declined to consent to the directors' request, and urged perseverance until they overtook success—which must be somewhere in front of them.  This happy confidence was itself a presage of improvement.  Profits distributed in June were paid in goods, which met the household requirements of members and the interests of the Society.  The Clothing Ship did not go into the dock, but went cruising about.



AN obstinate, obnoxious, reproachful item had long irritated members in successive balance sheets, under the head of "old losses," which amounted to more than £1,000.  This had been a source of remorseful controversy at every meeting until this year, when 5s. was deducted from the account of every member previous to 1863.  This was done to prevent members, who might be withdrawing, from being accused of leaving losses incurred in their time to be defrayed by new members joining the Society, who could not be held responsible for losses occurring before they became members.

    Thus "old losses" disappeared for ever, and perturbed half-yearly meetings no more.  There was gladness at their decease, and nobody wished their resurrection.  So long as the Society was incapable of holding freehold property it had to be held by trustees.  The Society could not even have a license to sell tea; each license had to be taken out in the name of one of the trustees, and entered in the rate book of the township where the store was situated.  The one advantage of this necessity was that the trustee gained both a municipal and parliamentary vote—though a single vote to a single person would have been thought fairer all round.  But when the law was altered all property and all licenses were re-transferred to the Society.

    Not liking the prevailing system of trade puffing and advertisements, and yet needing publicity for the business carried on, a series of tea meetings were devised in various parts of the town, and a free ticket was given to all members who applied for them.  Thus a great number of the members were brought together, when a new social feeling and better knowledge of the Society were the results.  The number of members who partook of these teas was 2,500.

    About this time many necessitous members gave notice of withdrawal from the Society, and others who were dissatisfied beyond reconciliation did the same.  The Society had now funds at the bank, and could be neither intimidated nor distressed.  The directors made known that all notice givers would be paid at once, rightly concluding that those who were needy ought to be relieved without delay, and those who withdrew from ill-will ought to be released.  Dead branches add no vigour to the tree.  The leal members were numerous enough to maintain the vitality of the Society.  The trade was better than it had been for years, and loans of money were offered to assist the directors if needed.  Happily they were not needed.  Time was when members were not so ready to assist the directors, and had no money to do it with if they were willing.  Now many members had money which the Society had made for them, and it was honourable in the new capitalists to be ready to place funds at the service of the directors.  The number of members paid out was 161, and the amount was £520.

    Next it was resolved to reduce the amount of shares from £5 to £2, the reason being that they had more money in hand than the directors knew how to use.  If they held money at 5 per cent without employing it, it diminished the general dividend, and if they paid 5 per cent when they could borrow at 4 per cent the dividend suffered in proportion.

    Here a new wonder came to sight, which has since been seen in other societies—working men, who were told they never could possess capital, and believed it themselves, had acquired more than they knew what to do with.

    The old pioneers at Rochdale never had difficulty in employment of accumulated funds.  They set up a profit-sharing spinning mill.  It was the promise to establish profit-sharing workshops that first made co-operation popular.  Their successors in Rochdale lost sight of this noble intention.  Leeds had not taken this step, that was why the Society did not know what to do with its money.

    Yet the directors had the wholesome principle of profit-sharing in their minds, and on discussion further decided to give the head storekeeper 10 per cent upon the whole profits when they reached £15 and upwards, and recommended the storekeepers to let their shares remain until they reached the amount of their individual bonds.

    The successive details the reader has seen of the intelligent devices of administration the Leeds Society have invented, or adopted, will be instructive reading in many young stores and interesting to co-operative students.

    This year the disconsolate clothing department, which had been subject to many misgivings, showed a profit of £105, and declared a dividend on purchases of 1s. 3d. in the pound.  Thus the judgment of the members was justified in keeping that vessel in the navy of the stores.

*Ed. - "faithful and true" (archaic)



AFTER getting rid of the "old losses" item and the disturbing elements had considerately withdrawn themselves, peace and prosperity set in.  The profits on flour were £1,850, on groceries £568, clothing £91, on meat £64.

    In Scotland meat sellers are called "fleshers," an uncomfortable term.  In England meat sellers are called "butchers," which is worse, and conveys a brutal idea to the mind.  Repugnance to the fact does not, however, do away with necessity.  There is slaughter all over nature; but that is no reason for parading the unpleasant fact over our doors and in our balance sheets, spoiling the daily meal by obtruding associations all the more painful, since they are now mostly needless.  Long ago I published a letter from Prof. F. W. Newman explaining that the death of animals for food might be rendered quite painless, and the meat made of greater value by increase in weight and intrinsically more nutritious, since loss of blood diminishes weight and wastes the richest element of animal food.  Prof. Newman thought co-operators the most likely persons to care for profit and humanity.  Anyhow, the horrors of terms may be avoided.  Therefore, in this narrative the "butchering department" is described under the head of meat selling.

    It was not until 1865 that purchasers not members of the Society were accorded half the dividend given to members.  It seems incredible that it should have required years to take so wise a step.  Why outside purchasers should be refused permission to increase the profits of members, by making purchases equal to their own, no human being can tell.  It is not less incredible that there should exist a class of people anxious to get all they can in a bargain, yet persist in taking only half a share of profits when they might have a full share.  Yet this marvellous class of people are found in the neighbourhood of every store.  There are those who believe that cupidity is wide eyed, but there are clearly numerous persons who have their acquisitive eyes only half open.

    Again, a device was acted upon which was tried without result when the first shop in Briggate was opened—the device of employing a traveller to call upon the public and non-purchasing members and canvass for new members, and increase the purchasing tendencies of non-buying or half-buying members.  But again the plan did not succeed.



WHEN Queen Elizabeth had a new plan of procedure she wished tried, she told her officers of State that "they might find new instructions restrictions, but, like new clothes which are a little stiff at first, they would become easy by wear."  By this time the Society found the truth of the shrewd queen's saying.  The new store system which after ample inquiry had been engrafted on the flour mill organisation, and which for a time produced explosions and conspiracy, now worked easily.  This year there is little but confirmed prosperity to recount.

    The year was marked by a handsome piece of consideration to all persons employed.  The time of store servants was shortened, by closing one hour earlier in the evening.  Thus the co-operators were from the first on the side of the early closing movement, and the Society was considered to have had, by its example, an influence upon shopkeepers in the town, and benefited their assistants.

    In fact, as far as can be ascertained, they were the precursors of the movement in Leeds.  Besides, the Society made another concession of similar importance, namely, closing the stores half a day each week.  The directors were the first in Leeds to give the half-holiday per week to their store employees, an act of kindly consideration, by which employees elsewhere in Leeds came afterwards to benefit.

    In November the floods came, causing a heavy loss in the grocery department, the wholesale warehouse being flooded to a great depth.  The loss amounted to about £300; but this did not affect the share of profit given to members, who found the advantage of having a reserve fund from which the directors took an amount sufficient to equalise the dividend by raising it to its expected amount, 1s. 6d.  Had it not been for the reserve fund, the dividend would have been only 10d.



ETHICAL politicians recognise that there is a "divine discontent," but the Society now and then encountered a discontent which was neither divine nor reasonable, not being founded on fact.  This species of dissatisfaction recurred at times.  Notwithstanding, the Society progressed step by step and prospered on the whole as it went.

    This year (1867) a unanimous resolution was passed, authorising the directors to enter into the coal business.  Probably that business warmed the heart of the Society, for from year to year the coal department always made a good profit.  The Society had now advanced to a position of confidence, and members were prepared to hand over to the directors any amount of capital; but for reasons the reader has seen they declined any more loans.  The flour department continued, in all vicissitudes of time, trade, and contention, to make substantial profits.  This year it made a profit of £1,708 upon a turnover of £30,341, and a dividend of 3s. per bag was declared.  Complaints prevailed of the quality and price of the groceries.  The directors, therefore, had all their goods tested, which were found equal, and in many instances superior, to the goods selected from respectable private traders.  But many of those who had complained so eloquently without knowledge, now had a complaint against the knowledge which showed their complaints to be groundless.  But more sensible members were glad of the information.

    The meat department still showed that there was no flesh of profit on its bones, and the members at last agreed that meat selling should be ended.  It was a perennial puzzle to the directors why the flour society should continue prosperous and robust, while all the other departments were pale in the face, visibly thin, and some losing flesh.  But there appeared no explanation save that defunct vested interests, disturbed by being superseded, had risen from their graves and were walking the earth again.  Disembodied agents were certainly about.  A good deal of discontent was owing to the unfamiliarity of members generally with co-operative action in their own interests, joined to ignorance of its principles.  The pinch of dear flour and bad flour all the town had felt, but there was no corresponding experience which they could understand with respect to commodities in general.  Dearness and adulteration were everywhere, but there had not been sufficient intelligence to detect it and resent it so effectually as in the case of flour.

    Many of the flour agencies had certainly been done away with as new branches were opened—but not all of them.  Thirty years later (1897), the reader, if he inquires, will learn that seven shopkeepers in various parts of the town are agents for the sale of the Society's flour.



THIS was a gusty year.  As a co-operative society is open to all the world, including "Charley's Aunt," among its new recruits will always be included a succession of malcontents, some wise and some otherwise.  The controversial contumacy is sure to reappear.  This time it was the dismissal of one of the managers.  The old error, of forming two parties about it, was repeated.  Even some of the directors took the part of the man as angry partisans, and forgot the cause.  They might be justified in letting their opinion be known, but not of joining a party against their colleagues and compromising the repute of the Society for orderliness and constitutional procedure.  On this occasion circulars were issued, even handbills, and letters for and against the dismissal appeared in the Leeds Express, which intruded questions of administration of the Society's affairs upon public and unfriendly attention.  This would have done no harm had the language been considerate and respectful on both sides.  Indeed it might have impressed the public favourably had they seen the spectacle of a society, feeling strongly on a particular question, always preserving good temper and self-respect.  Instead there were acrimonious imputations, which unsettled the members, lowered the public repute of the Society, and deterred many persons from joining it.  In those days Lord Brougham's social schoolmaster was abroad in the sense of being somewhere else.  The remedy being for these displays was not a timid silence in the face of a supposed wrong, but a respectful, firm, but nevertheless dispassionate expression of opinion.  At last the storm subsided.  Not even nature can keep up a tempest for ever.  The very elements of heaven get tired of fury and long for rest as much as any overworked trade-unionist.  As Miss Mathilde Blind, who had sympathy with social betterance, lately wrote—

We are so tired, my heart and I,
    Of all things here beneath the sky,
One only thing would please us best
    Endless unfathomable rest.

    On this principle the Society was glad when the tumult of the partisan controversy was succeeded by equanimity.

    Next trouble came owing to some reputed irregularity in the election of directors, which was debated in further stormy meetings to late hours, and adjournments notwithstanding.  At length Mr. Swale, always a wise friend of the Society, made the judicious motion that "as the next election was near the directors remain until their successors be appointed," to which a large majority agreed.  Pleasant order was once more re-established, and the maelstrom dispersed itself in mid air.



ADMINISTRATIVE experiments were the characteristics of this year.  Mr. John Edison originated a proposal that an intelligent general manager be appointed, and the number of directors be reduced, although since 1863 their number was but twelve.  It was remarked that many were elected because "they were decent, steady men," a qualification at no time, nor in any society, to be despised.  The "intelligent general manager" idea did not find favour, nor were the directors reduced.

    Again the directors found they had more capital than they could employ with profit to the Society, and £1,000 of loans were repaid to the lenders, selecting those who had the largest amount in the Society.  Upwards of £200 worth of shares were forfeited this year in consequence of not being claimed during five years.  Some members who once thought they never should own any shares had become rich enough, it would appear, not to want them, or to forget them.

    At that time there were sixteen storekeepers, each of whom was allowed to purchase such articles as he thought likely to suit the buyers at the store under his charge.  The consequence was commodities of varying quality, and often inferior, inundated store shelves.  Not only did dissatisfaction arise, but considerable stocks of unsaleable goods accumulated.  Purchasing requires special knowledge and business faculty, which are not common qualities.  Besides, a storekeeper must have angelic tendencies to keep clear of presents which may divert his attention or impair his judgment.  He needs to repeat the Lord's prayer every morning, "Deliver us not into temptation."  Some men have tea and coffee in their blood.  One will know good tea by its aroma or taste.  I knew a coffee roaster in Manchester who could tell good coffee on taking berries in his hand.  But these endowments are far from being general.

    Led by the light of experience, the Leeds Society resolved to trade generally with the "North of England Wholesale" department at Manchester, the name by which the present Wholesale Society was then known.

    The directors brought forward an elaborate scheme of organisation—ingenious, but too complex, which did not meet with approval.  It was rightly rejected on the ground of present impracticability, but had some good points.  It was treated with less respect than it deserved, which tended to discourage originality where it is always desirable.  The plan showed considerable thought, and must have cost much time to work it out, and being in the interest of the Society and not of a party, it had the merit of good intention though not fortunate in other respects.

    The grocery department was not very animated—only a dividend of one shilling being declared.  The Clifford store was closed in consequence of continued losses.  It was opened with great prospect of success, but its distance from the centre of management caused it to lack necessary supervision.  At the same time the Wellington Road store was opened in December, so that if one store went out another came in.  Another piece of progress was assured—Mr. John Hunt and Mr. Bell were empowered to purchase the coal plant at a cost not exceeding £450.  This department was regarded as the most profitable the Society entered upon.  The corn markets were now unsettled, and so unsettled the flour trade of the Society that it was difficult to sustain the average profit in it.  Nevertheless, £1,184 were realised, which enabled the dividend of two shillings per bag to be paid.  Three shillings had been paid previously.  The clothing department continued far from robust, and in order to interest members to become purchasers, credit was allowed under certain conditions.  This step is called, of the Society, an ''accursed device;" anyhow, it proved to be no remedy, but a new disaster.  Debts were soon contracted but not so soon paid.  They were collected how they could, and the "hateful system of credit was declared to be closed at once and for ever."  But credit is as tenacious of life as a cat, and sets its back up when you think it is dead.



THE Society, as we have seen, wisely set its face against credit.  Debt is beloved by the shopkeeper, because it chains his creditor to his counter.  He who is in debt is owned by others.  The flesh on the bones of his family belongs to somebody else.  The meat dealer, the baker, the clothier, the tailor, and the shoemaker are the real proprietors of all they are, or have.  It was co-operation that first taught the working man to own his family and to own himself.

    New social devices came into operation this year.  It was decided to hold quarterly conferences of the board and local committees, for the purpose of interchanging ideas on the business and working of the Society—a practice which long proved to be advantageous.  A general meeting assembled, when the members unanimously decided that it was an advantage to deal with the Wholesale Society at Manchester, and the directors were "empowered to join" at once.  A wholesale buying house is a great economy in the market, a guarantee of pure commodities to members, and protects storekeepers from perpetual temptation.

    This year the Society was free of Mr. Bovill on account of royalty for the use of his "cold blast."  It was to the credit of the directors that they were ready to adopt any improvement which promised to be advantageous to the Society.  Mr. Bovill, with his intervening patent rights, was never popular with the Society, as he is always spoken of in the Record "as a person named Bovill."  The miller, believing himself free to use the Bovill "exhaust," had his patience exhausted by long and unforeseen payments.  But inventors rightly have rights as well as millers, and it will be an ill-day for mechanical progress when genius and invention have no reward secured by law.



OUR chronicle now arrives at a new kind of dissatisfaction—a salutary species of discontent that has profit in it.  Growth everywhere demanded extension of premises and increase of machinery.

    It was a good sign that the rules had to be again revised—not in consequence of difficulties, but to meet the growing want of the members, which was outgrowing the raiment of its youtha pleasant sign of vigour and health.

    Serious complaints arose anew, but this time of a wholesome character.  Remonstrances came from several districts that the stores were inadequate to meet the requirements of the purchasers.  This state of things gave the directors no disquietude since they had ample funds in hand to supply the remedy.  They at once purchased land for new stores at Hunslet, Bramley, Burmantofts, and Meanwood Road, where new buildings were forthwith commenced.  The members in the Bank district were found to have outgrown the capacity of the store there.  At certain times they had long to wait before they could get served.  Indeed many stores complained of want of business convenience.

    The flour mill also was in a similar robust difficulty.  Its powers of production were severely tried.  With all its facilities for grinding it could not supply the demands made upon it.  Consequently a new and more powerful compound engine was bought, and other machinery, which, however, only partially met the requirements.  The turnover for this year was £95,095.  The profit was £7,321.

    A commendable improvement was made by the time of the employees in the mill being reduced to nine hours per day.  Quite as many particles of wheat as were good for the lungs could be inhaled in that period.

    The drapery department alone continued, in stock-market language, considerably "under par," and its administration was completely remodelled.  Its stocks were depreciated by £721, which was taken out of the reserve fund.



THE manifest and well-earned prosperity of the Society was followed by an act which denoted a nobler sense than the unmitigated pursuit of dividend.  The bright feature of this year was the creation of an education fund, to be managed by a separate committee, and over £200 was voted to it—1872-4.  Many a stormy contest had taken place in years past upon this subject—not yet ended.

    When a grant was asked for education, a curious scene was witnessed.  A carnival of ignorance took place.  People who had done nothing for the progress of the Society, who had never thought for it, nor spoken for it, nor worked for it, and knew nothing of the principles which had inspired those who had built up the Society, which gave them profit—were all up in arms against the outlay of a halfpenny a month for knowledge.  When they heard an educational vote was to be taken, they streamed into the meeting from all the purlieus of darkness in which they dwelt.  They appeared to spring out of the floor of the hall, just as in early morning, when rain has fallen, you find all the walks alive with worms you did not expect existed in such quantities, and you can hardly step without treading upon them.  So it used to be on these occasions.  All the vocal worms of ignorance suddenly crawled into sight.  Those who knew the least were loudest in their protests against being enlightened.  A small proposal met the most determined and tumultuous opposition.  At a crowded meeting when a vote of £20 was asked, and Mr. Holmes was showing how a little more knowledge would tend to progress, a member called out with a strong voice, and in the broadest dialect of the locality, "We want no education, give us a bonus."  He did not even know how the word education was spelled or pronounced, and did not want to know.  He was not aware that unless someone had education there would have been no "bonus" for anybody.  The man might as well have cried out, "We want no flour, give us bread."  As there cannot be bread without flour, there can be no profit without knowledge how to make it.  This year the worms of ignorance had acquired intelligence enough to see this.

    Tables are the least alluring but the most palpably instructive portion of a narrative, saying more by a few figures than the pen can with a hundred words.  The Society had now been twenty-three years in existence, and its property stood as follows:—





Horses and Carts




Fixtures and Movables




Stock on hand


Cash in hand




    Another step of mark was taken this year.  The directors recommended the members to elect a Building Committee to bring into use a large amount of unproductive capital lying at the bank.  Leeds was the first society which had a building department.

    In December, a grand tea and meeting where held in the People's Hall to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Society.

    For the half year ending June, the total profits were £4,614. 10s. 9d.; in the half year ending December, the profits were £6,097, 17s.—making a total of £10,712. 7s. 9d.  This was the first year in which the profits amounted to £10,000 and more.

    Mr. John Holmes some fifteen years before this date, in one of his fervid speeches urging the Society to enter upon the provision business, predicted that the time would come when they would make £10,000 profit in a year.  It was then that one of the incredulous members exclaimed, "Johnny has a tile off."  The man who made the exclamation had no tiles to get loose, for he had no tiles upon his head of the far-seeing kind.  Had he lived to this year, as we hope he did, he would find that the co-operative prophecy had come true.



IN this year, Mr. Whalley, who had been in the service of the Society as grocery storekeeper for about seven years, was appointed to the office of general manager and buyer of the grocery department.

    The increase of members continued and caused such a demand for flour that the mill had to run day and night, as it had often done before from a similar auspicious cause.

    Land at Beeston Hill was bought for a new store.  This was a notable extension year, no fewer than eleven new stores were opened.  The directors further recommended the members to enter into another business, that of furniture dealers and ready-made clothiers, which was becoming a staple business in Leeds.

    The retail boot and shoe business was commenced in 1859, and was worked in conjunction with the clothing business.

    The manufacture of boots and shoes was commenced in 1873.

    Mr. Joseph Swallow was appointed manager of this department in February, 1876.

    It is further worthy of special record that the Grocery Committee decided to give a share of profits to storekeepers, as follows: 10 per cent upon £40 out of every £60 of profit.  The head storekeeper to have one-fifth part, the remainder to be divided among the assistants according to their wages.

    Two investments were made, showing the interest of members in other co-operative undertakings.  One hundred £1 shares were taken in the Airedale Manufacturing Society, one hundred in the Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Company, and two hundred shares in the Leeds and Yorkshire Coal Mining Company.

    The directors wisely began to create a natural, it may be called a domestic, outlet for surplus capital.  They decided to assist the members to build houses for themselves, and appointed a practical committee for that purpose.  The persons elected were: Mr. Joseph Judd, bricklayer; Mr. H. Sanderson, joiner; Mr. J. Newell, builder; Mr. J. Taffinder, painter; Mr. Thomas Howdill, joiner; to whom the directors made a grant of £3,000, and subsequently one of £7,000.

    The oft-discussed and oft-deferred question of profit-sharing with labour generally, was again considered by the Society, showing that members had a permanent conscience.  Consistency demanded that when profit was accorded to the consumer it was also, and more, due to the producer.  There is no virtue in eating—that is a necessity—but there is virtue in working.  Labour is nobler than appetite.  Appetite comes by nature, while labour is a choice of industrious men, and great numbers never make it, but strive, or contrive and prefer to live upon the labour of others.  The better class of members agreed with Napoleon's saying, "Respect the bearer of burdens;" and a resolution was moved, "That the directors be required to make arrangements for paying the same amount of bonus on wages that is paid on members' purchases."  This was not carried, in a meeting of whom all were, or had been, workmen.  That they should vote against the interests of their own order shows how slow improvement marches, and that only education can accelerate it.  Workmen were always slaves, and the slave spirit seems an inheritance.  A different resolution was passed, "That in the opinion of this meeting 'Bonus to Labour' is in accordance with the true principles of co-operation."  This was for a time a barren resolution, though useful as a testimony to principle.  It was said at the time "to be no unusual thing to pass resolutions at meetings and nothing more be heard of them.  Co-operators are no exception to this rule."  Still the principle does not die while thus re-affirmed.

    It was not understood in the co-operative movement at large that true friends of participation in profit always existed in the Leeds Society.  Yet not many understood the motto of the Leeds Express that "right and duty are like two palm trees which bear no fruit, unless they grow by the side of each other."

    The department of knowledge made a gratifying announcement.  The Education Committee (appointed by the members) reported that "they had made good use of the grant voted them, having had a series of first-class lectures on co-operation and kindred subjects, delivered at the People's Hall and in other localities, to members and the public free, the whole of which were well attended and evidently appreciated.  They had also agreed to become guarantors to the scheme of University Extension in Leeds, to the extent of £40, believing it to be a step in the right direction, and would urge upon members to join the classes with spirit, and thus help to make the experiment a positive success."  Reading-rooms and libraries were in operation at Holbeck and Pudsey, and it was intended to extend them to other places as opportunities occurred.  The following remark is made:—

    "It is hoped that when the New Corn Mill gets fairly in working order that the claims upon us of the Yorkshire College will not be forgotten, but that the members will not only vote a sum to the building fund, but that they will vote a sum to endow a scholarship, to be held by the children of members only."

    This was before the scholarships of Hughes and Neale were founded or thought of.

    To secure good central premises which had long been needed, the committee advertised for a site.  Messrs. Hindle and Son replied, offering the old Leeds Mercury office premises in Albion Street.  Mr. Tabbern, president, Mr. J. Speed, Mr. W. Bell, and Mr. Thomas were appointed to arrange with Messrs. Baines and Sons to purchase the premises for the sum of £8,500.  The alterations cost a further sum of £3,000.

    The turnover this year reached £249,003; the profit to £19,933.  The number of members now stood at 11,365.



WE now come upon a year of marvellous success and perilous speculation.  It was found that the demonstration of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Society had led to an increase of members and business.  The display of the Society's property in this procession made known to the public the astonishing growth of working-class enterprise.

    The Yorkshire Post reported that on the opening of these Central Stores a grand demonstration was made by a procession of the vehicles and wagons belonging to the Society, containing the officers and chief members, drawn by eighteen of their own horses, gaily caparisoned.  The start was from the Holbeck Stores, headed by three bands of music—the Leeds Model Band, the Stanningley, and the Bramley— played through some of the principal streets to the Town Hall, passing the new Stores in Albion Street, in the front of which an immense crowd had congregated.  The whole route was lined with spectators, which in Albion Street was most dense.  Afterwards the members and friends of the Society took tea at the Town Hall—real tea in the urns was made this time for 2,500 people.  Considerably more persons were present.  After tea the doors were thrown open to the public, but the Hall was inadequate to hold the concourse of people who had been waiting outside.  Hundreds were turned away.  At the meeting, Mr. Tabbern (president) occupied the chair.  Among those on the platform were the Mayor (Alderman Marsden); Alderman Carter, M.P.; Mr. A. Briggs, of the Whitwood Collieries; Mr. W. Nuttall, then late secretary to the Co-operative Central Board; Dr. Rutherford, manager of the Ouseburn Engine Works, Newcastle; Mr. J. Holmes; Mr. J. Crabtree (Heckmondwike), President of the North of England Co-operative Society; Councillor Gaunt; the Rev. Dr. Barnes, vicar of Little Holbeck; and Mr. Vansittart Neale, Barrister-at-Law.  Speeches were delivered by Walter Morrison, Esq., Thomas Hughes, Esq., Q.C., A. J. Mundella, Esq., Dr. John Watts, Dr. Lees, and others.  This was a famous day for the Society.  The names show the historic friends of the cause in those days, never assembled on any other platform at the same time.  From beginning to end enthusiasm prevailed.

    These proceedings gave a further impetus to the Society, and increased the favour and surprise of the people of the town.  The turnover at the end of the year had increased to £327,812, capital to £97,566, net profit to £25,761, and the number of members to 14,009.

    New stores were opened at Rothwell, Beeston Hill, and Farnley.

    At this time Mr. Tallerman, a fervent pioneer of Australian trade, had heard that the Leeds Society contained a number of intelligent consumers, and offered to supply the July Conference Tea with a variety of their meat importations, which were accepted, eaten, and approved of.  After tea an experience meeting was held as to the quality of the food partaken of.  All the speakers declared that now their practical experience with the various products of Australia had quite dissipated their prejudices against foreign meat.  A unanimous resolution was passed in favour of "the meats being both good and nutritious."  This was more than they knew.  Nutritiousness is only proved by time.  The friendly resolution was beyond the knowledge of the meeting.

    A well-intended investment was made, based upon insufficient knowledge, which proved unsuccessful, namely, the money invested in the Tipton Green Colliery; and as it was eventually all lost, there was a good deal of squealing in the Society.

    It is a question whether the directors or the members were the most in favour of this scheme, which was alluringly laid before the members by Mr. John Holmes, Mr. R. M. Carter, and others.  The directors recommended that the Society should take up £15,000 worth of shares.  The general meeting was made special, so that the members could legally deal with this question.  Mr. John Holmes moved, "That the directors be empowered to invest in the Tipton Green Colliery up to £25,000 on behalf of the Society."  An amendment was moved by Mr. W. Swallow, "That the directors be requested to take two hundred £5 shares in the Morley Colliery Company in accordance with a resolution passed August 13th, 1873."  The safer amendment was lost.  The motion with respect to Tipton Green Colliery was carried almost unanimously.

    At a directors meeting it was decided to receive loans at 5 per cent per annum for the purpose of raising £15,000 for Tipton Green.  This was all done before the company was even registered.  Mr. Holmes applied to be appointed on the Tipton board of directors, but the appointment was given to Mr. Tabbern, who was then president.  This company paid at first, 10 per cent dividend, but whether it was ever earned was not known.  Altogether the loss of the Society was £19,298, which was written off as a bad debt two years later.

    Mr. R. M. Carter strongly recommended the directors to take up £5,000 worth of shares in the "Blakely Hall Colliery Company, Birmingham."  The directors considered the subject at several meetings.  It was decided that several of them should visit the colliery and see for themselves.  This was done, and those who went reported very favourably upon it.  A special meeting of the members was called in December to consider the subject; and after considerable discussion a sensible resolution was moved by Mr. J. B. Baldwin, "That this meeting, having heard the statement respecting the advisability of investing in the Blakely Hall Colliery Company, recommend our directors to refrain from making application at present for any shares therein."  The reasons assigned for this resolution show the shrewdness of some of the members, viz.:—

1. Because already one-sixth of our capital is invested in coal companies.
2. Because its operations are so far away from the Society.
3. Because it is desirable when making investments that we should be actuated by a true co-operative spirit.

    After considerable discussion, the resolution was carried almost unanimously.  It was fortunate that the members declined, for the money would have been lost, like the Tipton Green shares.

    The reasons for this Tipton Green venture are difficult to determine to-day.  There were no intrinsic attractions for co-operators in it.  It was a mere capitalistic speculation.  The miners whose lives are at hourly peril were not to be given a share of the profits.  The high dividend expected implied high risk, and loss could be no surprise.  Mr. Baldwin's amendment has the singular phrase, "the directors be requested to refrain from investing."  There seems to have been an impetuosity that way.  Directors and members alike concurred in the speculation, and it was unbusinesslike to complain when the colliery turned out to be a coal well with no bottom.

    At a quarterly meeting held in the Philosophical Hall, Mr. Campbell brought forward a proposal for the establishment of a Convalescent Home.  A committee was appointed of which Mr. Wm. Bell, Mr. Wm. Campbell, Mr. Richard Tabbern, and five others were members to contrive a plan.  At a further meeting, held in the Mechanics' Institution, the Society was recommended to lease or purchase forty or fifty acres of land for the purpose, not nearer than two miles nor more than sixteen from Leeds.  Mr. Campbell was appointed hon. secretary.

    Credit, thought to be dead, again became a trouble.  Credit, like error, is a snake alive at both ends, if cut in two it still wriggles; they who intend to kill it must keep chopping at it so long as it moves.

    The education of members was well attended to at this time, for there were newsrooms and libraries at Holbeck, Bramley, Armley, Pudsey, West End, Hunslet, Bank, Beeston Hill, and Burmantofts, and at the half-yearly meeting £100 was granted to the Educational Committee.

    This year Mr. J. W. Fawcett, the present secretary, was first engaged in the service of the Society as cashier.  Testimony was borne to his notable qualities of industry, uprightness, honesty, and painstakingness.



SPECULATION still had attraction.  Not Tipton Green, but New Orleans this time.  All speculation has restless wings.  This time it flew to the Mississippi Valley.  It went further than Tipton Green but fared no better.  Another special meeting was held to hear a statement from Dr. Worrall, managing director of the Mississippi Valley Trading Company.  We saw Dr. Worrall at the London Congress that year, but there were no hooks in his story on which you could hang a safe conclusion.  This Worrall Company purported to be formed for the purpose of exchanging the produce of the Mississippi Valley for the goods manufactured in this country.  The Leeds Society was to be appointed agents in England.  Mr. Neale, Dr. Rutherford, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Mr. John Thomas, of Leeds, were sent over, at the expense of the company, it was believed, to inspect the land.  Their report was favourable to the undertaking.  After a very long and animated debate, Mr. J. B. Baldwin, heretofore circumspect, moved, "That the directors be recommended to take up £2,000 in shares in that company," and at the next board meeting the directors agreed to apply for and pay the £2,000 for shares.  The company exploded, and the Society lost about £450 in that venture.  Thus, as might have been foreseen, the expenses of the deputation had to be defrayed by the Society.  No account was taken in Leeds of what was well known in America of the trade rivalry and political jealousies of North and South, and that no trading transit could be had without the concurrence of the North, save by deepening the New Orleans river.  A hundred times the amount sunk in the Tipton Green Colliery had been sunk in the New Orleans river without making an impression on its navigableness.  It did not occur to Dr. Worrall to tell all he knew, and his colleagues in New Orleans were not more communicative, so the Society and deputation were misled.

    The question of participation in profit by the storekeepers was especially before the Board, and it was decided, after considerable discussion, to take it away.  But in place of it, their wages were to be taken into consideration, with a view to compensating them for the loss of their share.  Some thought it bartering a co-operative right for wages, and that principle dropped out in the transaction.  However, it took away the stimulus of gain in proportion to exertion, by which the middle class grow vigilant and rich.

    The mill was again unable to supply the necessary quantity of flour required by the members and the public, consequently extensive alterations and additions had to be made in the mill, and machinery to meet the increased demand.

    Two new stores were opened and land bought for three more, in addition to building fifty-one cottages, at a cost of £12,503.  This was far better than Mississippi investments—too far away to be under control.

    The Carlton Hill estate was purchased for the erection of a better class of houses.  It consisted of 3,630 yards, and cost £1,015.

    The Committee of the Convalescent Home had inspected a suitable estate of sixty acres.  At the half-yearly meeting they made their report.  The meeting decided that the scheme was not "opportune."  Why could they not think of this useful term when the Mississippi scheme, was before them?

    When the Golden Lion estate was in the market, the directors were desired to secure the corner site for the new stores.  Before venturing upon its purchase, the directors prudently obtained plans of the estate, showing what could be retained with advantage to the Society, and what portion sold.  Mr. Ambler, one of the eminent architects of the town, made the necessary drawings.  After a considerable amount of expense and time had been incurred, the meeting determined not to buy it.  The Lion estates would have been a Royal holding, even if they had no Unicorn Manor to match it.  There was money in the name.



WHEN the news of the loss of the £19,000 in the Tipton Green Colliery got noised abroad, as such things do, a crowd of those willing to gain without the risk of losing, and many who had too little not to be alarmed at losing that, rushed forward to give notice of withdrawing their shares.  The directors prudently called in their balance at the bankers and met the demands without exacting the usual notice.  This restored confidence, and those who withdrew their money soon brought it back again.  As the members applauded the investment it was undignified to mourn the loss.  In all undertakings the wise rule is to be prepared to lose as well as willing to gain.  Those invited to invest should be told the risk, then none repent or have reproach for what they do with their eyes open, nor lose courage to embrace a good opportunity when it comes.

    When new shares had to be taken in an Intelligence Company, which always pays good dividends, a large number of members were injuriously careful.

    Mr. F. Curzon, an indefatigable advocate of the power of education being put into the hands of the working man, succeeded in obtaining a grant of £100.  The meeting, however, was so turbulent that it was cited as a new argument proving the necessity of education.  The meeting did not conclude until eleven o'clock.  The newspapers report characterise the assembly as "disorderly."

    It was worth the while of the Society to agree to a permanent educational vote, to avoid the scandal which ignorance was bringing upon the members.  Ignorance is not inactive, as some people suppose.  On the contrary it is the most mischievous thing in the world—either doing harm when it does anything, or doing harm by preventing other people doing good.  The vote that caused all the tumult was but £100 out of £14,000 of profit.  It meant only one half-pint of beer less in twelve months.

    Trade being bad in the district, many notices of withdrawal were given.  As not more than ten persons could withdraw in one quarter, the directors proposed to make a reduction of 3s. from all persons withdrawing in excess of the legal number.  As this rule pressed hardest upon the most needy, they decided to pay off at once all persons who had already given notice, and that in future all cases of members in distress should be allowed to withdraw down to the amount of £1.

    Later in the same year a great number of withdrawals confronted the directors.  In case of need they found their bankers were willing to advance £10,000, which by good management they never required.  The withdrawals notwithstanding, the Meanwood store was opened, thirteen houses at Beeston Hill and fourteen houses at Burley Fields were completed, and land was purchased for stores at Hunslet Road and Farsley.

    A new condensing engine was bought of thirty-five horsepower, which cost £1,015.  A new forty horse-power boiler cost £40.  Other outlays required made a total of £4,000.

    The question of recommencing the meat trade came up for consideration, motion being made that live cattle should be purchased and prepared for sale on the Society's own premises.  This was carried unanimously.  The directors made exhaustive inquiries, and alarmed by what they learned and by former experience, took no steps to carry out the resolution but let the subject drop.

    Owing to the increased and ever-increasing duties of the directors it was resolved to augment their payment from £30 to £60 per annum, to be equally divided among them.  It is wise to pay well for duties which require thought.  Investment in capacity always yields good results.  Mr. Emmerson stated, before the Parliamentary Committee of 1856, that up to that date, during nine years the directors had never received one halfpenny for their anxious, onerous, and laborious services.  So it was not too soon to begin to better remunerate their successors.

    The increase of stores made evident the need of a Stores Visitor.  As this required a person in whom implicit confidence could be placed, Mr. John Thomas was appointed.  It is no mean praise, having regard to his onerous duties, that he gave the Society entire satisfaction.  He proved to be that rare person, a good all-round man, which he needed to be seeing what his duties were.  He was to visit each store every week, enter in a book, kept at the store, the condition he found it in, also make a copy in another book, and enter any remarks he thought might improve the working of the stores; the book to be laid before the Stores Committee every week.  He was to be at the call of this committee at any time and also be utilised by the other committees as circumstances required.  He was charged with the collection of all the rents, to look after the property, and to provide everything necessary for the great number of teas continually being held, and a great number of other things, as auctioneers say, "too numerous to mention."



BROUGHAM said of Lord Liverpool, our Premier for fifteen years―"If you brayed him in a mortar you could not bray the prejudices out of him."  Members of the Lord Liverpool order abounded on the question of education.  Still the leading members stood gallantly by the question.  The subject of making a grant for this purpose had to be considered every year.  As the consideration of the half-yearly balance sheet and report occupied the whole of the time of the meeting, it was decided to hold a special meeting to consider this question, when Mr. Wilberforce moved "That a grant of £100 be made, same as last year, for educational purposes."  He made an eloquent appeal to the members not to be behindhand in this all-important question, but to show to the world that they were not merely dividend-seekers but friendly to intelligence, the want of which was the chief stumbling block in the way of industrial progress.  If they rejected the motion, they would some day regret it.  The appeal fell upon stony ground, for it took no root, or withered as it fell, owing to the arid atmosphere.  The majority of the members had made up their minds that no money should be spent (if they could help it) on education; thus the subject died this time.

    Still general progress went on, which might have gone on faster, with a greater number of intelligent members to aid it.  New stores were opened at Hyde Park Road, St. Mark's Road, Larchfield or Hunslet Road, York Road, Hogg's Field (Holbeck), and one for drapery and boots at York Road.

    Further demands were made upon the flour mill, and the directors were again impelled to increase the corn-grinding machinery.  The Society was then able to manufacture double the quantity of flour it had previously made.



THE motto of co-operative thrift is that of Epicurus—"Abstain in order to enjoy."  That is true all life through, but only the intelligent know it.  There were still a substantial number of co-operators about Leeds stores who did not understand this, and would not abstain from taking all for dividend though they or their children might otherwise enjoy the princely luxury of knowledge.

    A special general meeting was called to consider certain new building rules, in which a clause was, with good forethought, inserted, proposing that ¾ per cent of the net profit should be devoted to propagandist work.  This was the first time the word "propagandist" occurred in a resolution of the Society.  The profits to be assessed—¾ per cent—came assessed out of no member's pocket, but were a surplusage arising out of transactions which gave them good houses, otherwise unattainable and unpurchasable by them in Leeds.  Three-quarters per cent was a very small proportion of profit to give towards increasing their own opportunities of gain, besides gratefully extending to others that knowledge which had enabled them to be in a position to vote upon profits accruing to them.  But the mere proposal threw the meeting into a fit of hysterical economy.  It became uproarious and bitter.  At last the president peremptorily closed the meeting at 10-30 without any vote being taken.  Had early and later leaders, directors, and thinkers been as selfishly economical, there would have been no Society.  They gave, not ¾ per cent, but 50 per cent of their time, without a penny of reward, and now the Society was landed in prosperity the members who took the profits refused with clamour ¾ per cent for their own instruction.

    An indignant night was given by a special general meeting to the consideration of a handbill signed "Daylight," which might have been answered by another placard signed Limelight.  It was not worth a night's discussion.  A vote of confidence was passed in the directors, which was paying a great compliment to "Daylight," as it implied than an anonymous asperser could affect the character of directors, whom all knew, and who had served the Society well.  Mr. Campbell moved, "That the handbill signed 'Daylight' was untruthful and malicious, and the writer deserving the strongest censure."  Contempt would have been a fitter word.  The motion was carried unanimously, with the exception of one member, Mr. B. Wrigley, who was openly accused, and did not deny having written the condemned handbill.

    Again, the directors had on hand more money than they could profitably employ, and decided to close the loan account.  At this time £11,000 were lying in the bank upon which interest was being paid and nothing earned by it.  It was suggested that the holdings of the largest shareholders should be reduced by paying them back part of their saving.  Mr. Wilberforce, whose sonorous voice is itself an argument, opposed this step.  It was said that he spoke in his "usual solemn and persuasive manner."  Weighty would be a better word.  At Congresses we have often heard persuasive speeches from him which had a buoyant vivacity in them.  He urged, on this occasion, that the money be not returned to the members, which many of them had probably pinched themselves not a little to save against a rainy day.  Some might spend it not knowing where to invest it.  When we need money we urged them to save.  It was not nice to say we don't want it now—so take it back.  He strongly recommended the directors to lend it on good freehold mortgage security, or to building societies in the town, and moved a resolution to that effect, which was carried by a large majority.

    At the half-yearly stocktaking in the Albion Street drapery department, Mr. Tabbern, one of the then directors, appointed to take this stock, reported a very large deficiency in that department, and that a quantity of goods were missing.  To clear the matter up, communications were made to the police.  By this promptness the thief and accomplices were soon arrested.  It was found that one of the assistants in the retail department made arrangements with associates to visit the shop when other assistants were at dinner.  Then the goods were passed over to them, who either sold or pawned them.  Ultimately the assistant was sentenced to twelve months, and two accomplices for eighteen months each.  The value of goods recovered amounted to near £400.

    Great distress prevailing in Leeds, the Mayor opened a distress fund.  The committee generously sent fifty bags of flour for distribution among needy families.  In addition, £10 were voted to the directors to distribute among present and past members in need.  Many co-operators had prudently accumulated money which enabled them to tide over temporary shortness of work.

    There being great distress in the colliery districts in South Wales, through short work, an appeal was sent to the Leeds Society which generously voted £50 for their relief, to be sent to the two co-operative societies there, to be distributed as they thought best.

    In consequence of the new Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, the Leeds rules were again revised to keep them in accordance with the new laws.

    A proposal was made that the president and directors should be elected by the local committee in quarterly conference assembled.  It was rejected.  For what reason no record tells.  It is a defect of official co-operative reports elsewhere also, that they state what has been done, but not why it was done, nor indicate the essence of the arguments for and against the resolution adopted.  This is the most instructive part of a business report, and in a democratic association essential, if intelligent interest is to be awakened and sustained.  Barebone reports are no help; they only tire.

    Two new stores were opened at Kirkstall and Farsley.  New stores were opened for boots and drapery at Wellington Road, and for boots only at Farsley.  Premises were purchased at Littlemoor, Pudsey, and opened as a grocery store; Pudsey store being found too small for its custom.  Land was purchased for new stores at Tong Road, Roundhay Road, and Whingate Road, Armlet.  The profit made on grocery was the largest realised in one half year.

    The storekeepers and their assistants made application to the directors to be allowed to make arrangements for a cheap trip on some Wednesday afternoon, when the stores were closed; the directors not only granted them their request, but decided that the stores should be closed the whole of the day.  This has now become an annual holiday trip for the whole of the employees of the Society, and is now arranged and managed by the directors, and always anticipated with pleasure.  If not new, it was not common in Leeds.

[Next Page]



[Home] [Up] [Autobiography] [Rochdale Pioneers] [Derby Co-op Jubilee] [Co-operation] [Bygones] [Public Speaking] [Among the Americans] [The Reasoner] [Miscellaneous] [Site Search] [Main Index]