Leeds Co-op: Jubilee History 1847-97  (5)
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The Map.


THE Leeds Mill and Store Society, arising in Duncan Street Coffee House, in 1847, has spread like the civilisation of Rome, not "o'er continent and sea," as Rogers sang, but, beyond all expectation, over Leeds, its suburbs and vicinity.  When I met the directors to examine the geographical position of their great trading organisation, the Society's architect, who was present, exhibited two maps, one of ordinary size, and one on a much greater scale, which was necessary to enable the stores to be displayed in one map, which then was too large for handbook use.  A third map, on a special scale, had to be constructed, in which all the stores in the city of Leeds could be shown, in a conspicuous way, easy to be traced.  The plain, distinctive figures on the map enable any store to be at once identified.  The stores in outlying districts and towns have their position indicated, and the geographical directions in which they lie.  These entire 80 stores (which, however, are not the whole of the Society's places of business, as will be seen by the table of branches following) spread over an area of nearly 200 square miles.  Some have compared the Society to an octopus, whose tentacles extend from Albion Street over all the circumjacent land.  But it is no octopus of the kind Victor Hugo has described.  The Leeds Industrial Octopus is not devouring, but bestowing, fertilising, feeding, and enriching all whom it reaches.

The Branches.


HERE in alphabetical order the member can find the birthday of any store to which he belongs.  When I was taken a tour of the branches I began to make notes on their points of distinction.  A second day, with the aid of a cab, was insufficient to visit all those of interest.  Indeed it requires a week to circumnavigate the whole of Leeds store-land, and my notes would fill this handbook if they were written out in full.  So Mr. Fawcett has compiled for me the bird's-eye table of all of them, showing when they were opened, when new memorial stones were laid, who laid them, and other facts of their history.




    The aim of the Society is to have the branches half a mile apart so that they may not overlap, and no member has more than a quarter of a mile to walk to his store.  Where the population is dense it is found advantageous to have the stores nearer.  Outlying stores vary from five to twelve miles apart, and as there are eighty branches he who visited the whole on foot would find that he had a walk of nearly forty miles before him.  A cyclist visitor would need a local road map to aid him if he ran round to them all.

    Next to "Strawberry House," the name which most interested me was "The Bank."  That seemed an entirely profitable place; but I found it was a district which would be better were it rebuilt, and parts of it would bear being made more sanitary.  The working portion of the population appear to have no account at any bank, unless they have joined the store there, which has, as all stores have, a profit bank from which members can draw money out who put nothing in, save their custom.

    The Cricket Field Estate at Armley, has a fine terrace (Mitford Terrace), built by the Society.  The houses were all sold before they were finished at £255 each.  A refreshing terrace it is—no wonder it is sold; but forty more houses are planned.  The Methodist New Connexion have erected a pretty church on a freehold plot sold to them by the co-operators, where prayers ascend to Heaven amidst sweet air, which must give the worshippers pride.

    In recording the erection of tenements it is frequently said that those put up by the Society are "through houses."  To a stranger this may need explanation.  The term "through house " is used when the house opens into two streets—back and front.  The working classes of Leeds generally live in what are termed "back to back" houses—that is, dwellings containing living-room, small scullery, cellaring underneath, and two or three bedrooms above, but with only one opening into the street.  A through house usually has a sitting-room in addition.  At Hunslet I had the pleasure to congratulate Mr. George Oliver, the boot storekeeper there, on the success of his son, Ernest Oliver, who won the Neale Scholarship.  Leeds took interest in promoting that scholarship, and it is right, as well as gratifying, that it should be held by a Leeds youth.

    A store in Hunslet had an ingenious manager who knew how to compose a label and how to write it neatly.  A card on beef, or butter, or bacon, said "Really fine," "Very choice," "Delicious," "Take the piece," "Pick of the market," "Fit for a Queen."  Anyone looking in the window felt he could not do very wrong in buying something.  Every label kept clear of the egotism of the shopkeeper— "Buy our pickles," "Our speciality is buttermilk."

    The Holbeck Works were a good day's work to go over.  I should not have objected to a week's engagement for inspection, as I found they paid trade union wages and work only the recognised number of hours per week.  The Society's wholesale storerooms—the Feeding ground of the branches—were a sight to see; a succession of food chambers about 70 yards in length.  The countless rows of hams daintily suspended in compartments of white wood, might tempt a vegetarian to falter in his wholesome faith.  Though I saw but half there was to see, I was hungry for a week after.  But if I told everything of every branch, the reader might not live to the end—and would not forgive me if he did.  As the reader has seen the first flour shop he ought to see the last branch—the new stores in Burley Road, not quite completed—comprising drapery, meat, and boot departments.  It is a bright, obvious business structure such as purchasers love to see.


The Secretaries.


A GOOD secretary is as the keeper of the Queen's conscience, since he keeps the conscience of the Society. He generally knows what it ought to do, and always knows financially what it can do. Following is a list of the secretaries of the Society so far as they are known:—

1847.—Mr. Emmerson.
July, 1849.—G. R. Thomas.
June, 1850.—Edwin Gaunt, to 1853. [13]
June, 1856.—William Emmerson.
January, 1858.—W. Bower—James Prentis, clerk.
June, 1858.—James Prentis, to 1874.
1874.—W. Benson.
1874.—S. Slater.
May, 1874.—William Swallow, to about May, 1880; and then Mr. J. W.
         Fawcett, the present secretary.

    EMMERSON.—Mr. Emmerson, who has elsewhere been described, had been a schoolmaster, and with many excellent qualities he retained his pedagogic habit, and sometimes treated the members with the peremptoriness then thought becoming in a schoolmaster, which the members—not being children—resented, and so trouble came.  This was the only ground of the strong difference of opinion regarding him, to whose intelligence, fidelity, and great service, the prosperity of the Society in his day (1847-1856) was a good deal owing.  This came to be discerned, and he received the respect due to many merits.



    FAWCETT.—Mr. John W. Fawcett, who has exceeded all secretaries in the length of time he has held the office, was of Leeds birth, and inherits the energy and capacity for work characteristic of Leeds men.  He was born on August 30th, 1844.  Being one of a family of eleven children, of limited income, early activity befel him.  Taking interest in the affairs of the Society, he was elected on the local committee of the Bank Store about the year 1870.  Mr. Hunn, who afterwards became manager of the coal department, was then storekeeper of the Bank Store.  It may truly be said that Mr. Fawcett never sought office, but on each occasion was pressed into service.  He appears to have had a passion for work, and was content with that pleasure where he was.  He was pressed to join the Board, and his name appears among the directors in 1872.  Afterwards he was invited to fill the place of auditor, which he held for a short period.  At that time a rearrangement of the office staff took place, and the directors advertised for a cashier.  There were seventy-five applicants, but Mr. Fawcett was not one; but when the Board had to make a choice, they had difficulty in selecting a suitable person.  Some appeared to think that Mr. Fawcett was the kind of person they wanted.  During their deliberations Mr. Fawcett was auditing in the office below the Boardroom.  One of the directors came to him and asked him to allow his name to be placed on the list of applicants.  At first he refused, believing that if his name was added to the list it might impair the chances of one applicant personally known to him—a very generous reason for declining.  Learning afterwards that his acquaintance had withdrawn his name, Mr. Fawcett gave his consent, and within the hour he was informed he had been elected for the post.  This was how Mr. Fawcett became cashier in May, 1874.  In 1880 he was appointed secretary on the retirement of Mr. William Swallow.  Mr. Fawcett's integrity and devotion have commanded the highest estimation of the Society.  In addition to editing the monthly Record he has served on the committee of the Newspaper Society, at present represents the North-Western Section on the Central Board of the Co-operative Union, and has been ceaseless as an advocate far and near.  The stranger finds in him accessibility—the charm in an officer where it exists.  His energy is an unusual quality, for energy is often self-sufficient and abrupt.  Mr. Fawcett has a youthful alertness; there are no wrinkles in his heart—the worst place in which they can appear.  They add dignity elsewhere, so long as they keep clear of the mind.  On Mr. Fawcett's recent recovery from a serious illness he was able to attend the conference at Burley, on July 24th, where he received an enthusiastic reception.  The reader sees adjoining his eager, animated face, looking well at whatever may be before him.



    GAUNT.  Edwin Gaunt (or Sir Edwin Gaunt), happily still lives to witness the great prosperity of the Society of which he was once both secretary and advocate.  His reports had a brilliant aggressiveness in them in days when defensive arguments were invaluable.  He had in his mind a standard of the movement higher than that in the minds of the members.  Sir Edwin Gaunt was one of the first secretaries of the Society, from June, 1850, to 1853.  Being Mayor of Leeds, 1887 (Queen's Jubilee Year), he was knighted.  He is a hat, cap, and clothing manufacturer.  The circumstances of Sir Edwin's early youth were such that he owes all his distinction to his own endeavours, aided by the excellent foresight and judgment of Lady Gaunt.  In the days when he was connected with the Society he was intimately associated with Mr. Hole and Mr. Holmes, and like-minded spirits, which showed he had high qualities of his own to have commanded their regard.  There is force of character as well as civic dignity in the portrait annexed.



    PRENTIS.—James Prentis, whose son is the present secretary of the large Huddersfield stores, entered the service of the Society in 1857, was appointed secretary in 1858, and held the office until 1874.  Mr. Prentis was in the employ of the Society 30 years.  In 1858 (June 30th) he prefaced the report of the directors by a brief address to members, which shows practical knowledge and good sense beyond the average of his day.  The business mind and the co-operative mind were blended in him, neither extinguishing the other.  He held a high place in the regard of the Society, and in September, 1888, a purse of £20 in gold was presented to him, he being then in his 79th year.

    SWALLOW.—William Swallow, when a youth, was employed as a junior clerk in the office of the Society.  For a considerable time he was a clerk in Tetley's Brewery.  He was appointed one of the auditors of the Society, and in 1874 secretary, which he held until 1880.  He has now a considerable practice as an accountant, and is auditor for a large building society and many co-operative stores.  He has acknowledged ability both as a speaker and writer.  He has continued an influential member of the Society, fertile in suggestion and forward to represent its interest in Congress or on the platform.

The Presidents.


MANY think that a government of the wise would be a good thing, but such government has this disadvantage—it prevents anyone else being wise.  Leeds has had a series of presidents who have enabled the members to acquire wisdom by sharing experience.  It is a great quality in a president to maintain friendliness among members and to show respectfulness to all who desire to speak.  Whoever feels himself slighted, or put down, is alienated.  It is possible to enforce brevity and relevance with firmness; but firmness without fairness does not go for much.  A president who stands "four square" is all the better if he has a Salamander mind, and can stand fire.


1847.—John Smith.
1848.—John Smith.
1849.—J. Terry Taylor.
1850.—Jas. Booth.
1851.—W. Eggleston.
1852.—Joseph Mathers.
1853.—John Carter.
1854.—Samuel Sands.
1855.—J. Terry Taylor.
1856.—W. Crowther.
1857.—J. Speed (six months).
1857.-Samuel Haigh (six months).
1858.—N. Nussey.
1859.—Samuel Haigh.
1860.—W. Bell.
1861.—W. Wildridge.
1862.—Jno. Hunt.
1863.—W. Bower (three months).
1863.—John Holmes (nine months).
1864.—John Holmes.
1865.—W. Wildridge (six months).
1865.—John Speed (six months).
1866.—John Speed (twelve months).
1867.—H. Nicholson (six months).
1867.—J. Speed (six months).
1868.—T. Newman (six months).
1868.—J. Geves (six months).
1869.—W. Wildridge (twelve months).
1870.—J. Speed.
1871.—W. Bell.
1872.—A. Ingleson (six months).
1872.—J. Speed (six months).
1873.—J. Speed (six months).
1873.—R. Tabbern (six months).
1874.—R. Tabbern (six months).
1874.—John Thomas (six months).
1875.—John Speed (six months).
1875.—S. Goodall (six months).
1876.—S. Goodall (six months).
1876.—W. Jones (six months).
1877.—T. Wilberforce (six months).
1877.—J. B. Baldwin (six months).
1878.—T. Wilberforce (six months).
1878.—John Teasdill (six months).
1879.—G. J. Marshall (six months).
1879.—W. Bell (six months).
1880.—W. Bell (twelve months).
1881.—W. Bell (twelve months).
1882.—W. Bell (twelve months).
1883.—T. Wilberforce (twelve months).
1884.—T. Wilberforce (twelve months).
1885.—T. Wilberforce (twelve months).
1886.—T. Wilberforce (six months).#
1886.—J. Dockray (six months).
1887.—J. Dockray (twelve months).
1888.—J. Dockray (twelve months).
1889.—J. Dockray (six months).
1889.—Isaac Earnshaw (six months).
1890.—Isaac Earnshaw (six months).
1890.—John Leach (six months).
1891.—John Leach (twelve months).
1892.—John Leach (twelve months).
1893.—John Leach (six months).
1893.—Lionel Thornton (six months).
1894.—L. Thornton (twelve months).
1895.—L. Thornton (twelve months).
1896.—L. Thornton (six months).
1896.—James Tetley (six months).
1897.—James Tetley.

    BELL.—William Bell was born March 1st, 1819, at Poston, near Driffield.  He joined the Society in 1853; in 1856 he was elected on the Board of Management; in 1860 he became president, also in 1871 and 1880.  The son of a rural labourer, who had a wife and eight children to support on wages of 12s. a week, young Bell had no advantages in early youth.  He had the persistent voice of a Scotchman, and those who did not know to the contrary believed him to be of that nationality.  He had also the Scottish love of knowledge.  As a public speaker he had the eloquence of experience, was an influence in Liberal politics, and his advocacy could always be counted upon by his party.  But his principal spare time and strength were given to co-operation, for which he had an enthusiasm.  For twenty-seven years, until his sudden death, Mr. Bell was an able and continuous promoter of the Society.  He had acknowledged ability as manager in a bolt and screw factory.  Mr. Bell was the originator of the Educational Committee which consisted of seven or eight members, but only had a grant of £20 to advance their object.



    DOCKRAY.—Joseph Dockray became a member of the Society about thirty years ago, and took an active interest in the movement for many years, speaking frequently at meetings indoor and the open air.  He was elected a member of the Board in 1881, elected president in 1886 and again in 1887 and 1888.  Elected again as director in 1889 and continued in office till 1894, when the time limit for serving as director rendered him ineligible for re-election for a time.  Altogether he served as director and president about twelve-and-a-half years.  Always conspicuous for zeal, courage, and ability.

    EARNSHAW.—Isaac Earnshaw, born in 1840 at Beeston Royds, was sent to work as a half-timer at eight years of age.  He afterwards went to the Kirkstall Forge; was a bank messenger in Leeds, and caretaker for many years of the offices of the Royal Insurance Company in Park Row.  He was one of the managers of the Skyrack and Morley Savings Bank, and was always a man in whom confidence could be put.  He was chosen to succeed Mr. R. Tabbern as the Labour representative on the Leeds School Board.  In 1872-4-6, and again in 1882, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Society, and in 1889 president.  His death and character have been recorded in the Chronicle of 1897.

    HOLMES.—John Holmes, one of the earliest and latest friends of the Society, carried on for many years a successful drapery business, from which he retired with a moderate fortune many years before his death.  When last lecturing for the Leeds Society, Mr. Holmes came up from Methley to renew old comradeship with the writer in the cause of co-operation, in which Mr. Holmes's interest never abated, and his services were always at command as long as he had strength to render them.  He was prophet and pamphleteer, and had a buoyant enthusiasm which sometimes excited mirth, but his earnestness and vivacity gave him an abiding place in the respect and admiration of all who knew him.  Near or far, he spoke on any platform where co-operative listeners could be addressed.  He had admiration for art, and heresy in his taste for pictures, of which he was unconscious.  But it was his merit to be an enthusiast for art, when few persons of the middle-class engaged in trade were so.  He was the most vivacious of all the presidents of the Society.

    HUNT.—John Hunt was born May 4th, 1819, being now in his 79th year.  He joined the Society in 1848 by arrangement.  His wife's uncle held two shares, who let Mr. Hunt have one.  Membership was limited then, and those out could only get in by diplomacy.  Mr. Hunt had just married, and like a prudent husband, or probably having a prudent wife, his thoughts were turned to co-operation as a means of improved income.  The committee met in a Temperance Coffeehouse in a yard near the bottom of Briggate.  About that time the present writer lodged at it on some lecturing visits to Leeds.  Coffee-houses in yards were very common then.  In 1849, Mr. Hunt was elected on the Board of the Society.  Among his colleagues he remembers E. Gaunt, W. Eggleston, R. Penrose (a name promising bloom), N. Nussey, John Speed (another name of good omen in a rising society), R. M. Carter, and W. Emmerson, secretary.  This was a true committee of the time, for it held propagandist meetings to explain co-operative principles, and take down names of any willing to join the Society.  These propagandist meetings were not public meetings, but held mainly in coffee or temperance houses, where working men frequented.  Mr. Hunt had been employed as superintendent of the shipment of grain from railways to river warehouses.  Thus he acquired a practical knowledge of the classes and qualities of wheat, and was able to be of use to the Flour Society.  He knew what kinds millers bought, and why they bought them.  From 1849 to 1857 he continued actively engaged in the affairs of the flour mill.  During that time there were many stormy meetings.  Fortunately the committee always had a majority of members of common sense and reasonable confidence to support them.  Business obliged Mr. Hunt to go to Skipton for three years.  He then returned to Leeds, and was president of the Society in 1862.  During his residence in Skipton he continued his membership of the Society, and dealt with it.

    LEACH.—John Leach is a Newcastle-on-Tyne man, where he was born in March, 1837.  When a young man he went to reside in Middlesbrough, and came to Leeds upwards of thirty years ago.  He shortly after joined the Society, of which he has been an active member, serving as a local committee-man and for several years on the Board of Directors.  He was president in 1890 and was twice re-elected, holding the office for the full term of three years.  He is well read, entirely intelligent, and a good speaker.  Mention has already been made of his services.  When a few years ago the writer had the pleasure to deliver a series of lectures to the Society, Mr. Leach's interest in social education was very manifest; it was not a sentimental but a real practical interest, nor was his zeal abated by the trouble it imposed upon him, nor by the uncertainty of the funds which then fell to the committee.

    NEWMAN.—Thomas Newman was an old member of the Society, and between 1860 and 1870 was several times elected on the Committee of Management.  In 1868 he became president.  At his death in September, 1885, Mr. (since Sir) John Barran, M.P., unveiled a memorial to him in the Burmantofts Cemetery, subscribed for by the members and friends of the Ancient Order of Romans.

    NICHOLSON.—Henry Nicholson became a member of the Leeds Industrial Society at its commencement (1847).  His number was 675.  After business was commenced it was found more money was needed, and each member was called upon to take another share, and look for someone to take it.  Mr. Nicholson's second share was No. 1,321.  He sold his share "675," and retained share "1,321," which he still holds.  Amidst all the ups and downs of the Society he has stuck true to it, and believes he has never had one pound of flour from anywhere else since the Society commenced to sell.  No idle spectator he, but undertook the duty of a visitor to West Street, Queen Street, Bank, Marsh Lane, Marshall Street, Armley, Bramley, Pudsey, Farsley, Idle, Saltaire, North Street, and Clifford Stores, and, for a time, visited several once a month, to see if all were going on right.  Taking stock and visiting the stores were all voluntary work.  He has served more than 12 years as president (six months 1867) and director.  Having been on the board with 24 directors and with 12, he believes that the business of the Society has been much better managed with 12 than with 24.  His final and only protest is against stores selling beer.  Mr. Nicholson's career has been one of ungrudging industry in co-operative service and in unchanging loyalty to the cause.  Having been Grand Scribe of the Sons of Temperance for 30 years, he was in 1895 presented with an illuminated address and a purse of gold.

    NUSSEY.—N. Nussey, who was president in 1858, is remembered for excellent humour, sound practical common sense, and eloquent persuasive force—not common qualities, and valuable in days when turbulence was a frequent form of co-operative interest.

    SPEED.—John Speed was several times president of the Society between 1857 and 1875.  During the time when the Society was compelled by law to have a treasurer, Mr. J. Speed filled that post for many years; he guarded the finances of the Society and watched its expenditure as carefully as if it had been his own.  When the law was altered, so that the Society did not require a treasurer, he was generally either president or a member of the directorate.  It was no unusual thing, when any money was to be injudiciously voted by the members, to see Mr. Speed step to the front of the platform with his arms folded, and in his most impressive manner caution the members to think well before they gave their votes.  The members had such confidence in his judgment in money matters that he many times saved the Society from loss.  On his death, in 1879, the members instructed the directors to present to Mrs. Speed an illuminated address of condolence on her great bereavement.  He was sincerely respected for the regularity and punctuality of his habits and strict uprightness of conduct.  For thirty years he was Inspector of Weights and Measures in Leeds.  He was a Liberal in politics, and attached to his party; he could put an argument lucidly and not without humour.  Sagacity, integrity, and decision may be read in the portrait of him.



    TABBERN.—Richard Tabbern, president in 1873-4, was a Bolton man, and was foreman or manager of one of the departments of the Kirkstall Forge.  He was the Labour representative on the Leeds School Board.  With the exception of six months, he was a director of the Society from the middle of 1872 to 1880.  In 1880 he was appointed Clerk to the Board.  He was nominee of the Leeds Trades Council, and was one of the "victorious eight" in a famous contest.  He was but 56 at his death, April 12th, 1889.  His interest in the wisdom of members was constant.  In 1874 he reported that "the Educational Committee were putting their intermittent grants to good account, and were endeavouring to establish news and reading rooms in all the districts."  He was among the earliest to acknowledge the services of the "various local committees for the very efficient aid they had rendered in furthering the interests of the Society."

    TETLEY.—James Tetley, like Mr. Earnshaw, was born in 1840, but Mr. Tetley's birthplace was Bradford.  Like all the presidents and memorable workers who are recorded in these pages, Mr. Tetley owes his distinction to himself.  Not only was there nothing in his favour in his early days, but every thing was against him.  At the age of nine he went to work in a factory.  The chief incident in his mind up to that time was certain rejoicings at Pudsey (where his family then was) at the Repeal of the Corn Laws, which many families had glad cause for remembering.  Afterwards he worked in a Bradford factory until he was thirteen.  At the time of the Crimean War trade was depressed; his father died leaving young Tetley's mother with ten children, five younger than he.  His apprenticeship was completed at Joseph Rhodes's, machine-maker, Morley.  He became a member of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, having to go four miles to Dewsbury to find a proposer and seconder, there being no trade union in Morley then (1863).  From 1864 to 1896 he had employment at Messrs. Gannett, Walker, and Co., engineers, Hunslet, Leeds.  Always for union and improvement, he held various offices in the trade organisation to which he belonged, and represented it on the Leeds and District Trades Council, and represented the working engineers on the Conciliation Board, until co-operative duties took up all his spare time.  In the meantime he had the good judgment to attend the First Course of University Extension Lectures on Political Economy, that he might form sound opinion on trade questions.  On his first coming to Leeds he was invited to aid in forming the Hunslet Perseverance Co-operative Association, which, lacking essential agreement, did not succeed; whereupon Mr. Tetley joined the, Leeds Society—which has known so well how to succeed—in which he has served on local committees, educational committees, board of directors, and twice as president, being elected the second time unopposed, whereby he has the well-earned honour of being the president during the Jubilee year.  Mr. Tetley's record has been one of industry and progress, of persistent and intelligent perseverance, always taking interest and forwarding measures calculated in his judgment to benefit the masses, both municipal and imperial.

    THORNTON.—Lionel Thornton was born in December, 1852, at Oldham, Lancashire, and was removed to Leeds in 1857, where he has resided ever since.  Like so many others, recorded in these pages, he commenced work early, at the age of 10 years, as a wherry boy in the employ of the N.E. Railway Co.  At the age of 12 he had the misfortune to lose one of his legs at the nail works, Whitehall Road, where he had gone to seek for orders.  Worked for Messrs. J. Hattersley and Sons, Armley Road, 21 years.  Married, in 1878, Annie Elizabeth, daughter of John and Elizabeth Jackson.  Joined the Leeds Society in 1879, and in 1882 was elected a member of the local committee for Oak Road Store, and served for some time as secretary to the local committees of Wellington Road District.  On the death of Mr. Tate, in May, 1889, he was chosen to fill the vacancy, and was re-elected until 1893 without opposition.  The whole of the time he was a director he served on the mill committee.  For two years he was chairman, and was elected president in July, 1893, and re-elected 1894 and 1895 without opposition.  When but nine years old he attended the Methodist New Connexion Sunday School, St. Philip's Street, where he continued until 1889.  He became secretary (at 16), teacher, and superintendent.  He was put on the preachers' plan, and was much esteemed as a local preacher.  In the temperance cause, in friendly societies, he is interested and active, and as a trade-unionist he is for the worker having a living wage.  On laying the memorial stone of a new store in Brudenell Grove (1892) he was presented with a timepiece and writing desk, and Mrs. Thornton was given a silver tea service.

    WILBERFORCE.—Thomas Wilberforce, rightly named, there beings force in his character, is undoubtedly a Yorkshireman, being born at Kirk Ella, in the East Riding.  His father was a Chartist of the old type, who said what he meant and meant what he said.  In 1875 his son became a director, which implied, as it had done years before, a good deal of work and very little credit.  Thomas Wilberforce had wisely taken such opportunities, where information could be had, as were open to working men in his time.  One of them was the Debating Class at the Working Men's Institute; here he acquired the power which only debate can give of mastering the facts of his case.  Having a voice which needed no effort to hear it, nor indeed could any effort prevent those present from hearing it, was a great missionary advantage to him on the platform.  In 1877 he was elected president, and for the second time in 1878.  At that time presidents were elected for six months, subsequently the term was made twelve.  In 1882 Mr. Wilberforce was elected again, also in 1883, 1884, and 1885.  He has held numerous representative appointments on the Central Board, and at congresses, elsewhere and otherwise.  It was he who laid the corner stone of the new Central Stores in Albion Street, when he was presented with a gold watch and guard, a black marble timepiece with bronze pillars, two vase ornaments to match, and a portrait of himself.  On his retirement some time ago, the managers and officials of the Society presented him with an illuminated address, expressed in terms which he highly values and may justly do so.  For liberal political and social service, Mr. Wilberforce is counted in the press as one of the "Celebrities of Leeds."

Financial Progress.


ELSEWHERE in these pages when figures are cited, the rule of the writer has been to give them as nearly as possible in round numbers.  Thousands and half-thousands give the reader a comprehensive idea of the values in question, but odd hundreds, or fractions of hundreds, slip from the mind.  The official accounts of the Society are accurately stated down to farthings; but what reader ever remembers shillings or pence or farthings, and what does it matter if he forgets them?  It is the bulk sum only which impresses or informs him.  When Douglas Jerrold, lunching at a hotel, had salad served him, which contained an excess of gritty particles, he asked the waiter what it was.  "Salad, sir," was the answer.  "No," said Jerrold, "it is a gravel walk with a good many weeds in it."  Fractions of pounds, shillings, and pence are the gritty parts of a financial salad.  They are left out in the chronicle, that the edible portion may be better available for the enjoyment and digestion of the reader.  Fractions, however, are the natural nutriment of the auditor, and in the following table they abound in their native luxuriance, indispensable in a tabular statement of finance.

    This comprehensive and authentic table will enable the reader to see at a glance and understand what the progress of the Society has been definitely.  The affairs of the Society have been given in a hundred bi-annual reports which cuts the progress of the Society into two, and the reader sometimes has to perform an act of retrospective calculation to be quite sure what the yearly advance—whether by leaps or bounds or both—has really been.  But no doubt will exist if he peruses the "Annual Statement of Membership, Sales, Profit, and Capital," which Mr. Fawcett has prepared for this chapter.  Two committees are concerned with these enticing results.  First, the Finance Committee, which have in their charge the "main chance," and certainly look as though it would not escape them, which it is apt to do unless vigilantly watched.  The duties of this committee are mainly to find outlets and safe investments for the capital of the Society, by the purchase of land, the erection of stores and other buildings required for conducting the Society's business.  Cottages and houses for members come under their consideration.  In addition to the building department, they have the supervision of the office, of the drapery and check departments, the managers of which meet the committee from week to week.



    These are no mean duties to discharge, as anyone will find who thinks over them.  Members are not always conscious of the amount of thought, care, and labour which are being incessantly rendered on their behalf, and which deserve appreciation and regard.

    The Grocery Committee, as that title indicates, have the general supervision of the grocery department, and, in addition, look after the furnishing, boot and shoe, bakery, brush-making, and cabinet-making departments.  They have the managers of these businesses before them regularly.  This committee have a considering, watchful, outlook expression, which bodes well for efficiency.



    The next plate represents an important group of officers.  The managers of departments are the practical agents of business prosperity.  It is in their power to inspire or decrease the enthusiasm of members.  Tact—that indefinable quality which means the power of doing what can best be done, where an instantaneous decision has to be taken in personal affairs, accessibility which delights the humblest member, and gives him confidence to ask questions upon which his interest in the Society depends—patience, and readiness to oblige, so difficult to maintain under the pressure of business, and infinite repetitions of the same question by different persons.  These are few of the qualities a manager need possess, and will deserve a prize medal if he does.  Suggestiveness to the committee as to how business may be increased or improved, taste in the disposition of the commodities under their charge, are other qualities.  But to name them all would be to write a manual of management.  In the plate are portraits of the whole of the managers, eighteen in number.


The Managers of the Society.

G H Breton,  E Hutton,  W K Dean,  A L'Amie,  J Briggs,  B Bikerdike.

P Rump,  W Shaw,  F Rust,  J Swallow,  R Whalley,  A Cooper,  H Smith,  C Dawson,  E Wilkinson

H Gledhill,    W T Fielding


The Leeds "Record."


A LOCAL Co-operative Journal is a necessity of the Society, as soon as it can be afforded.  The Leeds Society has had such a Journal since 1878.  Its name is the Leeds Co-operative Record.  The object of such a publication was excellently stated as "intended to supply a medium of communication between members of the Society and between the various sections of it, that suggestions and criticisms intended for its improvement might be known and considered within the Society without carrying them to outside papers," and inviting alien opinion upon "what concerns the Society alone."

    This object has been well fulfilled.  The qualities of the Record are effectiveness of statement, justness of criticism, efficiency in reporting, and discrimination in presenting relevant facts.  This much was written long before the writer knew that Mr. Fawcett had been the editor.  It did not seem possible that with the duties of general secretary anyone could perform onerous editorial work unless he had unusual energy and industry.

    For myself, I have long had a prepossession in favour of the Record.  My address as President of the Carlisle Congress was the subject of many reports and comments.  The best of all was that which appeared in the Leeds Record, September, 1887.  The only form of praise which has permanence in it is that in which things said or done by a person are cited.  All praise is barren without examples.  The things done or the things said may be open to objection, or excite difference of opinion, but the reader knows what he goes upon in forming his own judgment.  The means of doing this were given in the Record in a very ingenious and pleasant way.  The reader is now forewarned that my judgment may be partial.

    A contributor to the second number of the Record signs himself "Good Night."  Considering that the Record was then only a month old, he might have said, more hopefully, "Good morning."  Nineteen years have elapsed since that day, and it is not "good night" yet,

    It is a merit not common in editorship, when authority is unobtrusive.  Liberal impartiality is an aid to progress, but, as readers know, there is a good deal of professed impartiality which is not liberal.

    The uses of a journal, as well as the taste of the editor, are shown by the extracts which adorn its pages.  Articles on health, on food, quotations from lectures of mark in point of information, or of ethical significance, are frequently found in the pages of the Record.  Its reports of lectures are of permanent interest, and remain instructive reading to this day.  Another and rarer merit is, that advocates of a change of policy are treated with respect, and the arguments against their proposal, stated with relevance and force, without acidulated imputation, which is not uncommon.

Changes in Leeds during 50 Years.


THIS is not the place to write an industrial history of Leeds during the Jubilee period of this Society—or of events which had their effects upon its fortunes.  In themselves the industrial changes in the city have been remarkable.  Two important branches of manufacture totally disappeared during the 50 years to which this history relates.  The "stuff trade"—the manufacture of worsted goods, the lighter kind for women's dresses, the heavier kind for gentlemen's cloaks—had good repute for durability.  Hand-loom weaving was done at home, the weaver having a loom in his bedroom.  If there were two women in the house, there would be a loom in each bedroom.  There was occupation, it is true, but the wages were poor, the homes of the workers squalid, and their lives miserable.  The quarter in which they resided has become a condemned area.  About the time when the Flour Society began the stuff trade migrated to Bradford, so rapidly that for years serious effects were felt in Leeds.

    The other lost trade is flax spinning, which employed many thousands of hands.  "Benyon men," whose doings have been related, were flax spinners.  Benyon Mill was one of the great mills engaged in this trade, which also comprised linen manufacture of all degrees of texture.  This once great trade has died slowly (not yet quite extinct), which has enabled some disbanded workers to get other employment with less privation.

    Among new trades is the leather industry, of which Leeds has become the most important centre in the United Kingdom.

    In the past half century the iron trade and machine making have extended wonderfully.  Although from time immemorial Leeds has been the metropolis of woollen manufacture, it is now difficult to say whether woollen or iron is king.

    A yet more remarkable new industry is the ready-made clothing trade.

    Here a circumstance is worth mentioning because it concerns a pioneer and an early member of the committee of the Flour Society—Richard Penrose, who had an initial part in the creation of a new industry at Saltaire.  Fifty years ago Leeds had a considerable dyeing trade, and still does a considerable amount of dyeing for Bradford manufacturers.  It has often been told how Mr. Titus Salt obtained his first sample of alpaca wool, but it is less known, if known at all, what decided him to make his first purchase.  Mr. Penrose was the manager at Croisdale Brothers, well-known dyers in East Leeds, and was on friendly terms with Mr. Salt, who, when he had obtained in Liverpool his first sample of alpaca, brought it to Mr. Penrose and asked him "whether he had ever seen material like it before."  Penrose, being struck with the appearance of the fibre, at once said, "Titus, it will either be a penny or a golden collar" (whatever that might mean).  Mr. Titus Salt was to call a week hence to learn how the alpaca behaved in the dyeing tub.  It took the dye well, and when finished had a brilliant appearance.  Mr. Salt duly appeared, and when Mr. Penrose saw him crossing the dye-house he was so anxious to tell him the result that he called out, " It is a gold collar, Titus," which proved a true prediction.  Mr. Salt was so astonished at the look of his sample that he never opened his lips, which was probably prudence as well as surprise.  He hastily wrapped it up, thrust it into his pocket, actually ran across the yard, went straightway to Liverpool and purchased at his own price the whole of the alpaca wool, stored as useless in the dock warehouse.  From this incident rose Saltaire mills, Saltaire town, and the fortunes and title of Sir Titus Salt.

    Among the changes in Leeds ought to be named the advantages which so large a number as 37,000 families now obtain for themselves by founding or joining the great Co-operative Society.  No one denies the great change thus brought about; before another Jubilee the number of members may be many times larger than now, and the original object of improving the resources and raising the class of workers may be attained yet more effectively.

    There were two brothers well known in Leeds as Tommy Hurst and Billy Hurst, as they were familiarly called.  Billy Hurst was the first man who suggested the introduction of cotton warps into woollen cloths, which he foresaw would one day become one of the most important branches of the woollen trade in future years; this forecast became true.  Like many other inventors, he died in poverty without reaping the reward of his pernicious ingenuity; one scarcely knows whether to be sorry or glad at his miserable end.  Now Thomson and Sons, of Woodhouse Mills, Huddersfield, is almost the only firm known where pure wool garments can be had.  Mr. Ruskin has had to set up mills in the Isle of Man, where pure cloth can be made; and a German clothier is making a fortune in England as a manufacturer of garments of pure wool, absolute honesty in manufacture being almost a lost art.

    Buslingthorpe became the local seat of the leather trade, the reason being that never-failing springs of water existed on the premises of some establishment of that day, just as the excellence of the fustian made by the co-operators of Hebden Bridge depends upon the water which they possess and control.

Memorable Workers.


THE reader will find, as he may expect to do, memorable workers among the presidents.  Though all presidents were notable workers, all workers were not presidents.  Many ardent workers had all the merits of presidents without holding that particular office.

    It will be most convenient for reference to give the names alphabetically, though the order of service would be interesting, as early service means much in the success of a society.  Directors are included in this chapter.  As a rule, directors work for the Society like railway trains, who are never happy unless they are running.  In earlier years of the Society they fared worse than locomotives, who do get coal and water, while for many years directors were fed on nothing, and worked incessantly all the same.  It will be seen that the lives of some of these workers for the Society are part of the history of Leeds, as well as of the Society, and throw new light on the pioneer days.

    ACKROYD.—William Ackroyd was foreman of the grocery warehouse at Holbeck.  He died suddenly, in his 66th year, on his way to the Great Northern Railway Station.  He had been in the service of the Society for twenty-five years, and was so highly respected that his remains were followed by a long procession in which were the president, directors, managers of stores, assistants and employees, and temperance officials (Mr. Ackroyd being of that persuasion).  Straightforward and cheery, his public virtues were temperance and duty—two honourable characteristics by which to be known.

    BAXTER.—William Baxter, formerly director.  He retired, going into business on his own account in the woollen trade, and now resides at Kirkstall.  He had a reputation in the Society as a good worker, whose name was given to one of the Society's boats—proof that he was held in honour.

    CAMPBELL.—William Campbell is in some respects the most remarkable member of the Society.  He has been concerned in co-operative affairs since 1834, when Mr. Craig was at Ralahine.  He is now in his 87th or 88th year, can read without glasses, and is as ready and effective on the platform as men are thirty years younger than he, and is likely to concern himself with the welfare of the Society for many years to come.  He is, as Sir Walter Scott would say, the "old mortality" of the Society, and anyone who lingers near him can hear more of the past life of Leeds than from any other inhabitant accessible, as newspaper interviews testify.  He is a peripatetic encyclopœdia of Leeds municipal, industrial, and co-operative history during three generations.  For nearly fifty years he has been a total abstainer, nor does he smoke; temperance and co-operation are the two things he most values.  He is a Woodhouse man, the firstborn of his family, and the only survivor.  Save during his apprenticeship as a tailor at Otley, he has passed the whole of his long life in Leeds, and was always known as a good workman at his trade.  He was the first representative who went out of Leeds in the ready-made clothing trade.  In 1859 the Co-operative Society commenced the clothing trade, of which Mr. Campbell was the first manager.  Mr. Campbell has been familiar with all phases of co-operation in Leeds; he has been twice a director, first in 1875 and 1876, and again in 1886.  He served on various committees and was hon. secretary of some, where his labour and correspondence were all gratuitous.  He took the situation as canvasser for the Society's brush department in 1888-9 on commission, and succeeded in greatly extending its business.  About fourteen years ago the Leeds Tradesmen Invalid Institution, by a large majority, voted him a pension of £26, but when he accepted the situation of agent for Mr. Brownfield, whose pottery he preferred to sell because there was profit-sharing for the workers in it, Mr. Campbell, with his usual scrupulousness, resigned his pension as he was then able to earn his own living.  Very few men at his age would voluntarily undertake again the risk of self-support, fortunately when this power ends he may claim his pension again.

    CARTER.—Robert Meek Carter, so far from being "meek," had energy and aspiration in him in a notable degree.  Charles Knight would have put him among his "exemplars" of self-made men.  From beginnings the humblest and most inauspicious, reared where education of any kind was not to be had, subjected to vicissitudes and hardships which few ever surmount, he came into Leeds in a carrier's cart and became senior M.P. for the borough.  Alderman R. M. Carter was born in 1814 at Skeffling, in the East Riding.  When a young man the Co-operative Society attracted him, and in 1849 he was elected a member of the Board, and, as in all things, he was enthusiastic and active on behalf of the Society, rendering no mean service during many years.  A man of enterprise and affairs, he found his way to the alderman bench and to the House of Commons.  I knew him well while he was in Parliament, and was his confidential adviser (being nightly at the House) in matters in which every new member is a learner.  A man of strong sense and aptitude, Mr. Carter would have made his mark there, in things with which he was conversant, had not commercial troubles befallen him.  The Tipton Colliery, in which he induced the Society to embark, cost it great loss.  Many were angry at him, but never lost respect for him, as his disinterested enthusiasm and sincerity were manifest to all.  He died within a day of attaining his 68th year.  As a director of the Society, he still retains a sympathetic place in the memory of the members.  He was one of the few Englishmen of his class who had the American courage and capacity of adaptability.  In youth he took any position open to him.  In after life, newness of project, which repels men of ordinary ability, was to him an incitement and delight.  His fault was that he entered on too many—not for his capacity, but for his strength.  Of robust constitution, he was one of those men who are too strong to live.  Incessant action gives no pain, and the machine of life stops without warning.

    COSTIGAN.—Samuel Costigan was born in 1857, and is a native of Leeds.  He joined the Society in 1883.  He served on the local committee for Bank Store for three years, and was elected a member of the board of directors in 1889, which office he held three terms—four-and-a-half years.  He was appointed to lay the corner stone of the Elford Grove Store on May 23rd, 1891, which at the present time is one of the largest stores the Society possesses.  He was presented on this occasion with a testimonial consisting of a silver lever stop watch and gold albert.  In January, 1895, he was again elected a member of the board of directors, has a further service of two-and-a-half years, making in all seven years' service as a member of the board of directors.  Mr. Costigan is a thorough co-operator, a vigorous speaker, and a strong advocate for the extension of co-operative production.

    DAWSON.—George Dawson, of Bromley, has been a steadfast friend of the Leeds Society from its first day till now.  Yet he refused a seat on the directorate on the modest ground that he did not think himself sufficiently educated.  But he proved he was by the wise and disinterested wish of seeing the affairs of the Society in, what he thought, more competent hands than his own.  Some of the originators of the Leeds Society went to Bromley in 1846—a sort of John-the-Baptist forerunner-class of co-operators.  They addressed the people on Stock's Hill, well known to visitors to Bromley.  When the Leeds Society was projected, Mr. Dawson paid his guinea.  He is the first person among the early promoters of the movement mentioned as having a guinea about him.  Many others would have done as he did, had they had the money.  The majority of the pioneers were like Jerrold, who, when a friend asked him "If he had a mind to lend him a guinea," answered "He had the mind, but he had not got the guinea."  Mr. Dawson says guineas were very scarce among workmen in those days.  His friends told him he would lose his money.  Mr. Dawson replied that he was willing to run that risk.  A levy was made of £1 more from each shareholder; he paid that also, declaring he had no distrust of the success of the Flour Society, and went all over Bromley canvassing persons to join the Leeds Society.  He found many well-wishers, but very few good helpers.  Nearly all expressed a desire to see how the project would go on before they joined.  There was no pioneer blood in their veins.  Had they been pricked, nothing would have trickled out but a watery mixture of prudence and timidity.  But Mr. Dawson found a few in Bromley of the braver sort, and in 1847 there were twenty members of the Leeds Society there.  Mr. Dawson says the first branch was opened in Bromley, which is now entitled to its jubilee, seeing it was opened in the first year of the Leeds Society.  There was on the occasion a demonstration and procession from Leeds to Bromley.  A band was engaged and played the first load of flour into Bromley.  The shopkeepers called a meeting to consider how they could circumvent the new movement, and they determined to reduce the price of flour per stone, which they thought would ruin co-operative flour dealers.  On the contrary, it did them good.  It caused many who were not co-operators to respect them since they had conferred an important benefit on all the poor consumers of flour in the town.  After a few years a rumour got abroad, supposed to have been originated behind grocers' counters, that the Flour Society was going down.  Intelligent members would have looked into the affairs of their own Society and inquired at headquarters how matters stood.  But working people were not very intelligent then, and treated a rumour as a fact, which they ought to have suspected of being of malicious origin, and many members withdrew in alarm from the Society.  Mr. Dawson was of sterner stuff, had clearer judgment, and the "crisis," as it was called, only induced him to work harder for the Society, and canvass for new members.  He attended all the meetings of the Leeds Society, although his hours of working were to nine o'clock.  To attend the meetings he had to give up an hour earlier, and then walk to Leeds, for there was no railway or tramcar at that time.  Still he went regularly to give his report and take part in the Leeds meeting, then held at Sammy Hall's, and as the meetings were often continued to a late hour, it was morning before he got back to Bromley.  On many occasions, when they had had a long meeting, he only got back in time to change his clothes and go to his work.  Co-operation was founded by men of this noble zeal.  The Bromley Deport was then on Stock's Hill (the reader has seen a plate of it, p. 47), and the storekeeper was Samuel Merrit.  Mr. George Dawson is now in his 80th year.  It will be seen that many of the facts of this narrative are derived from the oldest living authorities.  When the second Jubilee comes round, the origin of the Society will all rest upon history and tradition.

    EXLEY.—John Exley was born at Staincliffe, near Dewsbury, in 1840.  Before he was nine years of age he was sent to work in a woollen mill, in which business he was brought up.  In 1871 he came to Leeds with his family, joining the Co-operative Society the day after his arrival.  After having been a member for about twelve months, he was put on the local committee of the Hunslet (Church Street) Store, in which office he served without break until his election as a director in January, 1894, since which time he has sat continuously as a member of the board.  Besides his active interest in the co-operative movement, Mr. Exley has always taken a deep interest in temperance, in the Sunday School, and in fact every movement he could aid which has a tendency to lift up and improve the condition of the worker.

    GREEN.—David Green was a notable member of the Society, who had had considerable influence in the formation of the opinions of its early members.  He was on the first public committee in 1847.  He was the founder of the Redemption Society, as has been indicated.  He was known to social reformers all over Great Britain.  He was the printer of provincial innovators in his day.

    HOLE.—James Hole was a man of remarkable ability.  He was foreign correspondent and confidential clerk to a well-known firm of merchants.  He was for many years hon. secretary of the Yorkshire Union of the Mechanics' Institute, and founder of the successful system of Village Libraries in connection with the Union.  He left Leeds for London to take the position of secretary to the "Associated Chambers of Commerce," which situation he held to his death.  He was one of the pioneers of the Society, the best informed of all its early allies, and was one of those who lost his seat as director through his advocacy of forward co-operation.  He was an advocate of most movements of his day which sought progress by reason.  Instances have already been given of his influential activity.  Born in London in 1820, he died there February 24th, 1895.  His principal social work was done in Leeds, where, the Record says, "he formed a semi-political and social commonwealth."  He was commonly spoken of by London publicists as "Mr. Hole, of Leeds."  Mention has been made of his chief works.

    HUNN.—Allan Hunn, though he has retired from the service of the Society, and lives at Boston, Lincolnshire, still retains a high place in the regard of the members for his services to the Society, which have been elsewhere mentioned.

    INGLESON.— Abraham Ingleson held the important position of horsekeeper for many years, and was considered a most efficient servant.  He had previously served on the board of management of the Society, both as president and director, and was an earnest and effective speaker at festivals and local meetings.

    LLOYD.—John Lloyd, member of the present board of directors, is a native of Denbighshire, North Wales, and came to Leeds in 1879, having accepted a situation in the carriage and wagon department of the Midland Railway Co., where he is still employed.  From boyhood he has taken keen interest in political and social questions.  Soon after his arrival in Leeds he joined the Industrial Society and became an earnest advocate of co-operation, and for several years an active member of the local committee in the Dewsbury Road District.  He served also on the educational committee, and was elected a director in July, 1886, which office he held five years, and was again elected to the same position in January, 1895.  On the opening of the new stores in Linden Road, in August, 1889, he was presented with a timepiece, a walnut writing desk, and a handsome teapot for Mrs. Lloyd.  In thanking the donors, he said that "co-operation aimed at making men and women honest, true, and self-respecting.  The fruits of the labours of the Leeds Society were to be found in thousands of homes made happier and brighter by it."

    PROCTER.—Joseph Procter, one of the present directors of the Society, was born at Guiseley, near Leeds, in March, 1851.  He was the son of a small farmer, and had to commence work at an early age on the farm.  At the age of 14, getting tired of being a son of the soil, he was apprenticed to a joiner.  After finishing his apprenticeship, he came to Leeds in 1871.  He became a member of the Leeds Society in 1878, having previously been a member of the Guiseley Co-operative Society for six years.  He was elected on the local committee for the Wellington Road Store in 1884, and served on the committee until July, 1893, when he was elected a director, and has served in that capacity for four years unopposed.  On the 10th of October, 1896, he laid the memorial stone of the Burley Road New Stores, on which occasion his colleagues and friends presented him with a gold watch, and Mrs. Procter with a tea and coffee service.

    RICHARDSON.—J. H. Richardson, formerly director and an active member of the Society, has been for many years a servant of the City Council and manager of the Corporation Sewage Works.  He was formerly a coal miner, and was one of those who strenuously opposed the investment in the Tipton Green Colliery.

    SWALE.—James Swale regards himself as one of the oldest members of the Society (though there are members older than he in years), and has preserved most of the printed documents of the Society.  His first connection with the Society was in 1852, but he was acquainted with all the proceedings which led to its formation, as he discussed them with his brother-in-law, Joseph Nowell, one of the seven who signed the first circular from the Benyon Mill.  He would have been one of its first members, but his parents were shopkeepers.  As soon as they ceased to be so he joined the Society.  In 1859 he was elected a director.  He was concerned in urging members to build stores adjoining the mill, with a large meeting-room over them, to which was given the name of the "People's Hall."  He and a friend, Mr. H. C. Atkinson, one of the directors, a joiner and builder like himself, drew plans of cottages, which the directors accepted, and they were instructed to build them.  At that time many of the members were downhearted, thinking the Society was spending money it would never see again.  Mr. Swale and others went into highways and byways as recruiting serjeants of co-operation.  In 1881 he was again elected a director, and took an active part in making arrangements for the Congress of 1881.  In 1883 he was appointed to lay the stone of a large store at Headingley, one of the aristocratic suburbs of Leeds, when he was the recipient of a handsome presentation in commemoration of the event.  In the "Chronicle" instances are given of Mr. Swale's activity.  He was the author of the interesting narrative of the formation and principal proceedings of the Society from 1847 to 1882.

    TATE.—William Tate was widely known and respected.  For twenty-nine years he was bookkeeper at Messrs. Asquith Brothers.  He was elected a director in 1887, and served also on the finance, grocery, and mill committees, and always had a clear grasp of the business before him.  He maintained his quiet, ready wit and humour, which oft enlivened his colleagues, concealing from them internal suffering which ended his life in his 45th year.  Both directors and members passed resolutions of condolence to Mrs. Tate, which were communicated by Mr. Fawcett.

    WHITAKER.—J. W. Whitaker was formerly director and chairman of the mill committee.  He holds now an important position in the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, and resides in Manchester.

    WEBSTER.—R. Webster, whose death is recorded in the Record for February, 1891, was an earnest, active worker in connection with the Leeds Society.  He was first elected on the board in July, 1879, and served six-and-a-half years.  The last time he was elected was in 1884, and he retired in January, 1886, much esteemed for his straightforward, consistent conduct on all occasions.  He was in the 63rd year of his age at the time of his death.

    Many more workers might be cited did space permit.  Many names of mark have already been given in the chapter on presidents.

Productive Operations.


THOUGH in the Chronicle of 1896 a striking summary of the business of the Society, productive and otherwise, has been given, it will be an advantage to the reader to see the facts in a conspicuous form.  Indeed, on many pages of this handbook accounts are given of the rise, progress, and operations of various productive departments; nevertheless, the scattered facts will be better estimated collected together.  Therefore, a compendious table of the productive operations of the Society has been prepared for this purpose and for convenience of reference.  The Society may be considered to have mastered the question of distribution, and has attained no mean success in its attempts to solve the more difficult problem of production.  New distinction lies before it in this direction.  If it should carry forward, on co-operative lines, manufacturing enterprise, Leeds will establish its supremacy in the development of production as it has in distribution.  Those who have the power of realising the quantities and values expressed by figures, will be able to understand how great already are the productive operations of the Society.

Characteristics of the Society.


THE story of these pages has been ill-told if characteristics of the Society are not already conspicuous, yet some merit a final enumeration.  For instance—it was given in Parliamentary evidence (1856) that the Society could have undersold its adversaries, the millers, and make a large profit and did not do it; principle stood first in their minds and commercialism second.  Their object was to benefit the members, not to destroy others.

    The majority of the early members were unable to tell good flour from bad, and rather preferred the bad, as was often proved in the objections they made to the good.  The directors could have fooled them with cheapness and given them fraudulent flour and won custom by it—and contempt.  They did not do this; the directors stood by the honour of co-operation.

    Another thing they did—they gave a higher price for wheat than any miller in the market did, as they professed to buy the best, and they did buy it—but it was not "good business," as a late Royal Commission was told, but it was good faith.  In the long run good faith paid; it gave the Society an honest reputation, which means money.  Dr. Braithwaite, who was for many years a member of the Society, said on one occasion, "I always recommend my patients to purchase their flour from the Co-operative Society; it is the best flour in Leeds; it is always used in my family."

    Wood and Holdsworth, for many years the principal firm of billposters in the city, used the Society's flour in their business.  Another billposter one day said to Mr. Wood, "Where do you purchase your flour for making paste?"  "We buy from the Co-operative Society," he replied.  "I can tell" said his friend, "where you can buy flour, for making your paste, a good deal cheaper."  "We have tried it," said Mr. Wood, "but we find co-operative flour the cheapest; it makes a lot more paste, and it sticks a good deal better."

    Thus, if the Society needed to rely on "testimonials," as some tradesmen do, it could have had telling ones, which everyone could know to be genuine.

    Another feature, which belongs to the Society alone, is the existence of local committees in connection with each grocery branch, which were, for a long period, the only propagandist agency, in addition to the board of directors, possessed by the Society.  These committees, directors, and presidents are elected at ward meetings, invented in 1858.  The term "ward" was borrowed from municipal or Parliamentary bodies, but used as a term of co-operative organisation, signifying the divisions in which periodical assemblies of local committees took place.  In 1870, notices appeared of thirty-one ward meetings, and thirty-one halls or rooms in which they were all held on the same night.  The custom continues, though the number is greater now.

    Leeds is the only co-operative society which in its early days took, in its certified rules, power to fine irrepressible orators, which showed that the Leeds Pioneers were conscious of being in an animated community.  Emergencies arose, as we have seen, which justified the precaution.  Yet stormy meetings are not always evil, inasmuch as they show interest in the affairs of a society.  An inquiring mind alone gains knowledge.  The evil is when members act on suspicion or conjecture.  To put forth suspicions as facts is unfair, since it misleads and imposes upon half-informed members; but abuse of opportunity does not invalidate its use, and irregular inquiry should be put down charily.  When questioning is discouraged and vigilance ceases, a society dies; for apathy is death.  Democracy is always a trouble, but democracy is education and life and independence.  Despotism is the rule of the few, and creates the foolishness of the many.

    One novelty, not peculiar to Leeds, but at times more conspicuous there than elsewhere, was that members who had meekly stood at shopkeepers' counters, paying what they were charged, for food which could not be trusted, and against which they had no protection, and never getting any dividend upon their purchases, had been abjectly silent—but when the devotion and sagacity of store directors had given them honest commodities and profit, they were blusterous, open-throated, noisy, violent, imputative, and offensive, requiring the police to keep them in order.  But wise patience overcame refractoriness.  Co-operation at least has had this merit—it has taught workmen of the roughest class to behave like gentlemen.

    There have been honourable contests for principle in other societies, but in no co-operative stores have they been so often renewed as in Leeds.  In three cardinal things the supremacy of the Leeds Society is indisputable—its great extent, its great revenue, and the originality of its organisation.




1.    The Hull Co-operative Corn Mill of the last century, bore the name "Anti Mill" for the same reason probably.  The Benyon men may have heard of it.

2.    Recently demolished.

3.    A dubious reptile of that colour.  Its name was given to uncertain American politicians who professed to be for the Union but argued against it.

4.    From an old minute book in possession of the Society.

5.    There is another edition of the rules purporting to be printed "by Joseph Barker, printer and publisher, Wortley," bearing the same date, "July, 1847."

6.    Varied by a white earth known as "terra alba."

7.    The doctor's best patients were probably among the middle class of shopkeepers, who would be likely to keep clear of his consulting room.  It was given in evidence before the Parliamentary Committee of 1856 that the shopkeepers held together against any assailant.

8.    This was Archbishop Whately's principle, who said, "It makes all the difference in the world whether we put Truth in the first place or put it in the second place."

9.    This is the only instance in which the private business of a group of leaders is given, showing their position in society; useful to know to-day.

10.   The members were Messrs. Jones (chairman), Sands, Bailey, Shaw, Speed, Watson, Johnson, and Samuel Gaunt, whose name "Samuel" was given probably to distinguish him from another Gaunt in the Society.

11.    The Leeds Society was in the same condition as Mr. Emmerson owned to the Committee.  Had members or enemies had wit or malice sufficient, they might have destroyed the business any day.  A secretary of a Manchester Friendly Society, named Radcliffe, took £4,000 of members' money.  The magistrate dismissed the charge of robbery on the ground that he was a member, and a member was a partner.

12.    Visit to a Strange Treasurer of Garibaldi. "Sixty Years of an Agitator's Life." Chap. LXXVI.

13.   Mr. Gaunt cannot be traced beyond 1853, neither can it be said who was secretary from that time to 1856.


Co-operative Printing Society Limited, 92, Corporation St., Manchester.



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