Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Deansgate House Co-Operative Emporium

New Deansgate House
A little diversion into the centre of Manchester. Prompted by a question posed underneath a photograph I uploaded to Flickr. Where was Deansgate House? So a little story about New Deansgate House, a co-operative venture about few buildings north of the famous Kendal Milne building. It was at 84 Deansgate, Manchester.

The building is still there, and it's an architectural gem if you haven't set your head against the modernist style.

Though Manchester was the headquarters of the co-operative movement it never had a department store in the city centre. In 1945 six local co-operative societies and the wholesale society formed the Co-Operative Emporium Limited. Beswick, Blackley, Failsworth, Manchester & Salford, Pendleton, and Prestwich joined with the CWS. The following year the CWS acquired the Deansgate Arcade. One of the those fine Victorian versions of shopping under one roof with small upmarket shops fronting a passageway that ran from Deansgate to Parsonage Gardens. There are some fine examples in Leeds.

But it wasn't until 1955 that last tenants left and the old building was demolished for a bright vision of the future.The architect was George S. Hay of the CWS. He later went to design with Gordon Tait the prestigious CIS Tower & New Century House on Miller Street opened in 1962.

New Deansgate House
Essentially New Century House is a steel frame constructed by Edward Wood & Co at the Ocean Ironworks in Trafford Park and lots of glass was put around it. This was new for Manchester. The cost is reported as £500,000. It opened on the first day of spring, that'll be Saturday 21st March 1958 by  Leonard Cooke the chairman of Co-Operative Emporium Ltd.

A whole five floors, no food department, but furnishings, fashion, gramophone records, and a cafteria. The Co-Op Bank then a small banking operation of the CWS with no branches opened its first mini bank here on Monday 20th October 1969. An early example of in-store franchise.

But the venture was not a massive success that the co-operative hoped and planned for. Whatever the reasons for its slow decline - wrong stock, unfashionable image or prices - I will have to investigate.

There is a lot to discover and the Co-operative Emporium Limited archives are kept at the Greater Manchester Records Office. The company ceased and was de-listed as an IPS in July 1973. At least we still have the building which is a miracle for a city that is always being re-built.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Saturated Fats

This looks like an unhealthy set of rendered and processed fats from a 1930 advertisement. The food your ancestors lived on and purchased weekly at your local co-operative store. All unfashionable these days. However the problem of obesity was not an issue. Now you can quote official figures of one third of the population being seriously overweight....and rising.

The Irlam factory was demolished long ago. It also made soaps because both cooking fats and soap share the same ingredients - fat. Palm oil which was brought up the Manchester Ship Canal to the works or tallow from animal carcass.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dairy of Empire

A display advert speaks the wartime propaganda. It's 1944 and the centenary of the Rochdale Pioneers. The celebrations are played down as the nation is busy with the big conflict, but the CWS shows it is playing its part in the war effort and "in welding together the interests of the British Commonwealth of Nations".

There is the Scottish born, Peter Fraser, the Prime Minister of New Zealand 1940-1949 linking it all together. Note the wheatsheaf emblem of "Labour and Wait" with a spade. I'm intrigued by this spade, it appears during the war, but I'm certain it is not on the original logo, but there is probably more to it than that. Either that or I'm mistaken.

Previous posts :
Foods of Empire including Butter of Empire

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Back to the Railway Arch

Underneath this arch there was a conference to form the CWS that met on a snowy Christmas Day in 1860. The story is in a previous post. The arches are there, the temperance hall in one of them has been replaced by a motor repair business. There is no blue plaque that highlights the event. The other places where other conferences were held to form a wholesale society have been demolished. The public hall in Ancoats, and the Jumbo Farm in Middleton.
What you are looking at is Hewitt Street, Manchester with a railway viaduct between Oxford Road Station and Deansgate Station. Should you ever be meandering up there the arch is just before Rowendale Street (used to be called Rowe Street) as you walk eastwards towards City Road. Top photograph is from "The story of the C.W.S.; the jubilee history of the Co-operative Wholesale Society Limited, 1863-1913" by Percy Redfern and dates from around 1912. It is available at the Archives.Org

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Under the Railway Arch

There was a meeting to form a co-operative wholesale society in a railway arch. I don't think any of the 50 or 60 delegates had top hats though, as illustrated here. Definitely not the attire for a working man. Muddy marshes of the Irwell river - had they never seen the brown-grey depressing trench of water that snakes its way tp fprm a boundary to the city. Oh how they stylise history back then 60 years ago and today.

The arch is on Hewlitt Street, Manchester under the railway line between Oxford Road and Deansgate. Built in 1849 as the Altrincham & South Junction Railway. Back then it was a temperance hall warmed with a smokey stove, and probably lit by oil lamps. In the 1870 street directory 89 Hewlitt Street was occupied by the British Workman Total Abstinence Society, but another organisation may have been there in 1860. There were plenty of temperance societies in Manchester in those times. Plenty of pubs doing a good trade too.

"It was a heroic way to spend Christmas. The conference was called for two o'clock and six o'clock pm on a day when trains ran as on Sundays, and at a period when a third class railway journey from Manchester to Halifax occupied at least three or four hours".

Sources : CWS Display Advert 1951. Quote from "The story of the C.W.S.; the jubilee history of the Co-operative Wholesale Society Limited, 1863-1913" by Percy Redfern. It is available at the Archives.Org

Friday, May 25, 2012

Rare Co-Op Badges

If you are a butterfly surfer jumping from one fascination to the next trivia you come to things that you'd never thought existed.

So it was stumbling across these Air Raid Precautions (1924-1946) badges issued by the CWS. Thought I'd like to buy them as they are for sale. But the price tags of nearly 70 GBP is beyond my budget.

The joint English & Scottish CWS badge has the red rose and the thistle. The CWS has the wheatsheaf emblem with the addition of that spade that appeared in the 1940's. Dig for victory?

Manufactured Fattorini at the Regent Street Works in Birmingham. When it comes to metal badges they are the best. They also made the FA Cup, yes that big silver pot with the big handles.

Anyway if you want stuff like this then check out Home Front Collection.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pioneers Museum

The Rochdale Pioneers Museum opens soon. Refurbed with a visitor centre on the empty plot next door. That comes to 2.3 million GBP in building work. Well if you've come all the way from abroad it would be good to see more than two floors of tiny store.

It was used by the Pioneers as their shop from that historic date on 21st December 1844 until sometime in 1867 when they moved to their new Central Stores up the road. Fortunately for the history of co-operation the building was bought by the Co-Operative Union in 1925 thus saving it from redvelopement. The museum opened with due ceremony on Saturday 11th April 1931. Even then it was talked about as a place of pilgrimage for co-operators from all over the world.

We visited years ago so well overdue another visit to Rochdale. When the the new tram to Rochdale opens in 2014 it will be possible to go from Hardy Lane to the Museum on this modern transport system. Changing at Victoria and maybe a walk involved. But we're not waiting until then we'll be up there next month.

The new website is in place, still a few bits missing, but a vast improvement on the previous. Link.
Illustration dates from M&SE Herald 1909.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Film Show Talk

The Working Class Movement Library are putting on some talks for the summer season. These are usually on a Wednesday afternoon which makes for a small audience. There is one of co-operative interest. WCML : Invisible History Talks

Wednesday 25 July 2012 at 1400. Gillian Lonergan on ‘The co-operative movement's use of film' This illustrated talk ranges from film of the Blackpool Emporium and a Stanley Holloway monologue from 1938, to a short animation on the Rochdale Pioneers produced last year. This talk marks the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives.

I've very likely seen all the films mentioned so can recommend them. The Stanley Holloway movie could be "Sam Goes Shopping", six minutes long from 1939. But you do have an expert from the Co-Operative Archives giving the talk so listen carefully you'll learn something.

The Rochdale Pioneers story told in animation in 4 minutes. Produced by Huckleberry Films of Accrington. Even the Crumpsall Biscuit Factory, Manchester gets a mention. From early silents and magic lantern shows right up to YouTube, the co-operatives have always embraced the propaganda value of moving images.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Windows to a new world

 By chance I came across some interesting display advertisements from 1950. They are line drawings for this is when photographic reproduction in newspapers was limited and so everything from cars, fridges and bread was by illustration. They are interesting because they are by Richard Hilder (1905-1993) a great painter, especially of landscapes. He also a top illustrator, the chap who produced those classics of the countryside for the Shell Oil Company in the 1930's. The open road, speed and the slogan "That's Shell -That Was!" 'cos the car is in the distant of the spectacular scenery.

So far I've found thirteen low-fidelity reproductions for a series entitled "Windows To A New World". It would be good to obtain better reproductions and let them be seen by a wider audience.

The Rochdale Equitable Pioneers store on Toad Lane is one of them. That looks like the Central Stores of the Society in the background and I don't think that building exists anymore. Fortunately some had the foresight to save the old store otherwise it would just be a blue plaque on the side of a car park. Another is the E&S CWS Tea Warehouse on the Manchester Ship Canal. It was opposite the Pomona Docks on the Salford side. That has been demolished and the docks too.

Others in the series include the Bradford Co-Op Emporium a wonderful art deco building, the CWS Flour Mill at the Royal Victoria Dock in London, a mobile shop in Penrith, and Co-op Tullygoonigan Creamery in Northern Ireland. It's like a Pevsner guide of 1950's Britain.

Each advert extols the virtues of the CWS production and gives a little bit of history. "The CWS produces in its own 194 factories almost every other commodity needed in the home. Britain's biggest business, it helps more than 10,000,000 Co-op members cut their cost of living."

Well the factories have gone but at least we still have a museum and it re-opens soon.

For some better versions with more detail see the same advertisements in Lilliput magazine from the same time. A couple of good posts on Visual Rants, which gives more information about these drawings.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Corn Flakes

Co-Op Corn Flakes
(BC) CORN FLAKES 500g [1982] The sales of breakfast cereal is one of growth. The UK scoffs its way through 6.7kg per person, topped by Ireland at 8.4kg. That's more than any other country. That's over a box you need to buy every month just for yourself. What started as a vegetarian health product far away and long ago in 19th Century Michigan thanks to the Kellogg brothers became big business replacing the cooked breakfast. But in doing so they added sugar, fortified the product with synthesised vitamins to maintain the health claims and gave it kids' appeal with garish packing showing cartoon characters. But then there is the old favourite, corn as in maize, not as in the anti-corn laws when corn meant wheat.

I grew up within smelling distance of the Kellogg's factory in Trafford Park. What a gorgeous smell it was on toasting day with the wind in the right direction. There was a plaque on the gates, and it might still be there, stating it was opened by the wife of a coal miner in 1938. She won that day out in Stretford as a prize in a competition. Though I didn't know this at the time the huge silos in the factory were designed by John Metcalf. If you are impressed by the architectural merits of silos, and who wouldn't be, then he is the man, I want to know more. His revolutionary designs dating back to the 1900's still survive in Canada and the USA. I do remember the big "K" on the front of the factory. It made the Guinness Book of Records for being the biggest letter ever in the world. It has gone and I never got that photo. The stylised cockerel logo has replaced it. Quite ironic. Nobody in an urban environment ever associates early morning starts with noisy cockerels. Alarm clock radios more like. Then the cereal can be eaten at anytime as recent advertising stressed. Not just at cockerel hour.

However I don't think the Co-op own brand ones have been made there? They taste different. But how many corn flake factories are there in Britain? You could probably count them on the fingers of one hand.

Notice in the 2012 photo there are now 8 added vitamins, and back in 1982 we managed with just six. Inspired by: The Vegetarian : Quarterly Magazine of the Vegetarian Society, Summer 2012 and a great cereal story. Fortified with other research. This isn't Wikipedia. Photo credits : Cooperativestores (1982 picture); Lorenzo23 (2012 top picture)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Co-Ops - Obstacle or Inspiration?

Co-Op Movement 1950 Considering this is only a 23 page booklet it has been a struggle to read and understand it. It is a copy of the 10th Blandford Memorial Lecture delivered by Jack Bailey in 1950, and published by the Co-operative Co-partnership Propaganda Committee.

The story behind the names. Thomas Blandford (1861–1899) was co-operative movement activist being Secretary and the driving force of the Co-operative Productive Federation. Founded in 1882 to promote unity of action amongst the productive societies, securing capital, and finding markets for their products. It had some success in the East Midlands. He died after an illness when only aged 38.

Much later a charitable fund and a series of lectures were inaguarated in his memory. The first lecture was in 1941 entitled Towards Economic Democracy by Herbert Tracey, the publicity officer of the TUC. Harking back to the 19th Century the lectures were published to reach a wider audience. Otherwise nobody outside the room in Leicester where they were delivered would know about them.

There were at least 19 annual lectures which takes us up to 1959. Maybe more? Speakers included Prof. G.D.H. Cole on Co-Operation, Labour and Socialism, Will Lawther, the President of the Miners Federation of Great Britain with Can Industrial Democracy Survive? and Alan Birch, General Secretary of USDAW on Industrial Relations in Co-Operative Employment.

Jack Bailey (1898–1969) then Secretary of the Co-Operative Party had the opportunity to craft his address in 1950. In it he poses three long questions and then answers them or rather in that debating technique asks you to discuss them....He also examines the co-operative principles of self-help, mutual-aid, self-supply, and self-government.

"Whether the state in itself be good or bad, whether the power which os vested in it be used wisely or unwisley I believe it to be bad thing to make it too largely the repsitory of economic and social power"....optimistly he points to a sign that the Labour Party wedded to nationalisation programme is searching for alternative methods of social ownership. It didn't find any.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Membership still a quid

Join the Co-OpJoin the Co-Op
It costs just £1 (1 GBP) to join a consumer co-op. Unchanged for nearly 170 years. By today's values the original 28 Rochdale Pioneers (1844), or the 100 members to form the Manchester & Salford Equitable (1859) would have had to find £78 (78 GBP) to join their Society. Joining in 1929, when the Hardy Lane Co-Op store opened, the cost in today's money would be a little over £49 (49 GBP).

Then, as now the money can be withdrawn. Well it used to be but I've not checked recently. It also entitled you to a dividend on purchases. The M&SE in its early years also used to pay a dividend to non-members but at half the rate of members.

In the photographs is the application form to join the Norwest Co-Operative from around the mid-1980's. There was no dividend after the dividend stamps scheme ceased. The value of £1 then is equivalent to £2.37 in 2012.

You can join The Co-Operative online and you don't even have to send off £1 for it is deducted from your first dividend.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Women's Outlook

Just highlighting a good post from The Shrieking Violet weblog that came out last February. That's just like a minute ago in history.  The subject is "Women's Outlook" a Co-Operative Press magazine from 1919 - 1967. Not just recipes, handy hints and knitting they ruffled a few feathers in their time. Not to be confused with any publication from this century.

If you are interested then go here. It has some pictures as well.

To go with this check out Mary Stott (1907-2002), an editor of that magazine, and later with The Guardian. It's at Radical Manchester.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bread in a wrapper

M&S Co-Op Loaf 1929

Here we have the M&SE promoting their bread. I like the use of the word propaganda. This is 1929 and before the word became tainted by political and military conflicts of the dictatorships of Europe. But a cart clopping down the street with a pretend extra large loaf is hardly the dark forces of propaganda.

The term wrapped bread is stressed to promote the hygienic production and handling. This was a fairly new way of retailing by putting loaves in grease proof paper. The days of the unwrapped bread would be seen as old fashioned. Though people apparently survived for centuries and centuries by buying loaves not in paper.

However there was a further development just on the horizon. Sliced bread! Invented in the USA and the date usually quoted is 1928. The slicing machines had been developed a lot earlier it was holding the slices together in suitable packaging that was needed.

One of the pioneers in marketing sliced bread in Britain was R.Sharrock & Sons here in Manchester. They had bakeries, or scientific plants as they called them, in Chorlton-on-Medlock and they introduced the "Tip Top" loaf. You got 22 even slices in a 2lb  loaf.  Their display adverts gave instructions. "The Tip Top wrapper opens at the end, the loaf is boxed in a tray, which has been hygienically treated. The tray slides out and you simply take the number of slices required - push the tray back and tuck in the ends." All this for 4½d. The rest you's the best thing since sliced bread.

Credits : M&SE Herald 1929. Display advert Manchester Guardian 29th April 1930

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Arbitrators 1859

When the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-Operative was founded in 1859 they appointed a body of men called arbitrators. Don't know if they ever did any arbitration. But they were invited to the members' meetings and would have lent patronage to a newly founded commercial venture. Interesting five names from radical, non-conformist chapels all well known to the members of the Manchester and Salford co-operators. We are reading articulate middle class, mostly teetotal and vegetarians. They have an interest in democratic reform, free libraries and improvements for the working classes. Then there is Abel Heywood who was buried in the grounds of his home and has his statue in Albert Square.....

Samuel Pope
, barrister, aged 33. Secretary of the UK Alliance for the Suppression of the Traffic in all Intoxicating Liquors. This was a prohibitionist organisation and he stood on this ticket for Stoke 1857 and as Liberal in Bolton in 1859. Didn't win but was re-elected Councillor for Seedley Ward, Salford in November 1859. Henry Dow, one of the instigators of the "Maine Law" which made that state dry (alcohol banned) visited England in April 1857. He greeted him on arrival in Liverpool.

Rev. Thomas Gardner Lee, pastor, aged 59. His church was the New Windsor Chapel (Congregationalist), Cross Lane, Salford. He'd been preaching there since 1843. Responsible for publishing the second edition of Henry 'Box' Brown's Narrative in 1851  It describes Mr. Brown's escape from slavery to Philadelphia in 1849 by being posted in a wooden crate. Supporter of the Union & Emancipation Society in Manchester, the anti-slavery campaign which had two local co-operators J.C.Edwards and Edward Owen Greening as Secretaries.

William Harvey, Mayor of Salford, aged 70. President of the Vegetarian Society, it started in Salford. Active in the Bible Christian Church, Salford. Founder member of UK Alliance for the Suppression of the Traffic in all Intoxicating Liquors, the first meeting was at his house in Acton Square, Salford. Vice President  of the Anti-Tobacco Society. Campaigner for Parliamentary Reform.

Abel Heywood, publisher, bookseller and Mayor of Manchester. Aged 49, and best described as Mr. Manchester of the 19th Century. We know of his radical politics, a former Chartist and three convictions for defying the tax on knowledge - selling newspapers without stamp duty. More to come on Alderman Heywood and his support for co-operatives and connections with the M&SE Co-Op.

James Gaskill, aged 58, Bible Christian minister chapel at Queen Street, Hulme. Lived at 340 Stretford New Road. His occupation is listed as a Cotton Spinner, possibly a spinning business, but when elected to the Chorlton Board of Guardians he is described as a schoolmaster. Well he did this later with educational institutes set up by the Bible Christian Church. A director of the Manchester Mechanics' Institute. Also a teetotaler and vegetarian. Years earlier he presented a silver star and chain to Henry Anderton the teetotal poet in a ceremony in Manchester.

Thanks to Andrew Simpson at Chorltonhistory for help with this research. References to "A Guiltless Feast" by Derek Antrobus 1997 which is a good account of the Salford Bible Christian Church and the rise of the modern vegetarian movement.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Smile Tour 2012

Co-op Smile Tour 2102
Managed to get to the Museum of Science and Industry, or MOSI as it re-branded itself, to see the visit of the Co-operative Camper Van to Manchester. It's all this International Year of Co-Operation promotion. It is a genuine old fully restored VW Camper fitted out with seats and a table at the back. I was expecting it to be in red livery but there you go.

One for the scrapbook then.

Cost of Living

Food is cheap Food is cheap
The free newspaper South Manchester Reporter drops through the door everyweek. There is a bit of news squeezed into it between the advertisements, and then you get more glossy colour leaflets with it too. No wonder people are conditioned to buy food on price alone instead of value and quality.
Notice the current style of pricing at a pound. Not like the old days of 2p or 3p off.

Earlier post : Cost of Living 1948

Friday, May 4, 2012

Shutters are down

If you've lived long enough you can remember when shops didn't have steel shutters lowered over the windows at the end of the trading day. Come on, it wasn't that long ago. But in urban areas from the high street to the little parade of outlets it is now the norm. Sometimes you walk through a street of shops and you don't know if they have gone out of business or are simply not open that day.

Hardy Lane co-op store shewn here in the livery of the United Co-Operative Society before the refurbishment in 2009, but after the merger with The Co-Operative Group in 2007.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Early Mergers

I've touched on mergers of Co-operative Societies in earlier posts. The trend has always been one of reluctance to give up independence. Too few and too late and conceding when trading conditions forced such moves.

The Manchester & Salford Equitable made its first amalgamation in its first year of trading in 1859 when the newly formed Openshaw Industrial joined the Society. It was another 41 years before the next takeover when the small and struggling Didsbury & Barlow Moor Industrial Co-op was taken over in 1901. Full story to follow soon. The Hulme Pioneers another one store co-op joined in 1906. But there had been in merger talks in 1860 and 1871 which came to nothing.

When the Pendleton Co-Op Society merged into the M&SE in 1963 it was the start of the snowball, albeit a very slow rolling snowball to create one organisation for Manchester and Salford. It was hailed at the time as the way forward for the co-operative movement. Now the M&SE was actually in both cities - previously it had only a couple of shops west of the River Irwell.

But it wasn't for the lack of attempts to end overlapping and competition between societies. The issue that surfaced many times over the decades. Here is a list, not comprehensive of attempted mergers to create a Manchester co-op society on the lines of London and Birmingham (neither of which covered all those big conurbations).

1922 M&SE and Droylsden plan a merger but fails to obtain the three quarters majority vote at members' meetings.

1938 M&SE, Beswick, Blackley, Denton, Droylsden, Eccles, Failsworth, Pendleton, Prestwich, and Stockport in discussion. No result.

1956 M&SE, Beswick, Blackley have a plan to create a Manchester & Suburban Co-Op Society. Well that didn't happen.

1958 M&SE and Blackley plan to merge. Members vote against.

1959 M&SE, Beswick, Blackley, Droylsden, Failsworth, Pendleton, Prestwich in talks for another attempt at creating one Society for Manchester.

Now we're talking about one city in England, but it does reflect an urban mentality of tribalism. You are local, stay local and will visit other towns far away on holiday. Yet you rarely go to a district a few miles away unless it is for work or family. There is no bigger picture when it comes to local independence.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cost of Living

Cost of Living
Cutting the cost of living a phrase that echoes through the years. If you live on a slim budget it matters. The photograph has all the elements to get that message across. The zig-zaggy graph showing prices rising or falling. The lovely wicker basket of provisions. No plastic bags back in 1948. The young child who must be nurtured with the smartly dressed young mother who has made the right choice by shopping at the Co-Op. Well you can spot the "Join Your M&S Branch" on the mat. A window display of a pyramid of cans. When did you last see that?

But Britain has an obsession with cheap food even when people spend less of their total income on these essentials.

There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." quoting John Ruskin. Ruskin besides being a fascinating intellectual chap was a supporter of co-operatives. Well he did send best wishes to the first of the modern Co-Operative Congresses in 1869...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Guesting Guild Post

Done a spot of guest blogging over at Chorltonhistory. It's a story about the Chorlton & Manley Park Womens' Guild with a three tier cake celebrating their 25 year birthday.

It's an attempt to bring local co-operative stories to  a wider and different audience. Also still on the hunt for a picture of the Co-Op stores on Beech Road (1915-1967) where the above event took place. There is the link if you wish to read and see the 1947
You can email : coop AT with any information that will help in the making of this history.