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.