Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Smile Tour

Smile Tour #IYC2011
Just a picture taken in the drizzle today. The Smile Tour in that magnificant camper van has come back up north. The scene is set in the car park of Unicorn Co-Operative Grocery, Chorlton, Manchester.

Previous entries for the International Year of Co-Operatives 2012 here

Monday, July 30, 2012

Major Emporiums 1959

M&S Co-operative Emporiums
The illustration shews the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-op major stores, that is they sold clothes and household goods besides food. It dates from 1959, the centenary of the Society. Hardy Lane doesn't feature for it is only a food store.

All this has now gone. The Co-Operative still has food stores in some of those locations, some in different buildings - Burnage, Knutsford, Stretford Gorse Hill, and Didsbury Village. The headquarters is now an industrial estate. The mobile shops long ceased travelling the south Manchester estates, the milk deliveries stopped possibly as late as the 1990's. The railway line running north-south to the left is now a successful metro tram service. The other railway line north-south right side now takes you to Manchester Airport.

I was checking an old telephone directory from 1959 and it listed seven M&SE shops with a Chorlton number. The prefix was CHO, nearby Stretford was LON presumably for Longford as in the big park in the that town. It could have been used in London but wasn't.

Here is the list :
Funerals 347 Barlow Moor Road CHO 4138, still trading next to Hardy Lane store.
Coal Sidings, Albany Road CHO 4947 - now a car park for Morrisons
Grocery & Drapery, 442 Barlow Moor Road - now a computer games shop and a bookmakers
Grocery, 14 Milton Grove CHO 1052 - now a driving test centre
Grocery & Butchers, 66 Beech Road CHO 1053 - now a gift shop and a restaurant
Grocery, 90 Warwick Road South CHO 1809 - now an independent convenience store
Grocery & Butchers, 349-351 Barlow Moor Road CHO 2115 - the Hardy Lane store

I always thought the coal sidings were private coal merchants but the local co-op had coal delivered there too. The picture of those sidings is from 1960 and is being used for other goods too. What was delivered in all those drums? Courtesy of Manchester City Libraries (number M18314) and their brilliant collection of archive online images. The illustration is from Manchester & Salford Co-operative Herald Jubilee Souvenir 1959.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Technical Bread

Now this is just some photograph that I happened to spot in a 1909 co-op magazine, the Manchester & Salford Herald, whilst researching something else. Well 1909 was the 50th year of the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-Op Society so there would a jubilee history published that year. So I didn't take any details of why these bakers from the M&S are posing for the photographer in the Municipal Technical College.

I'm presuming this is the college that became UMIST, and now is integrated into Manchester University. For all I know that room with white brickwork might still exist it one of the older buildings on Whitworth Street. What a fine display of craft baking buns, cobs and bloomers. The large round loaves that break into four farls look particularly good.

It's not possible to say if this was a typical bread offer at the time. It is a demonstration of skill. The co-op societies always stressed their hygienic methods and unadulterated bread. Those bad practices bedevilled the working classes from obtaining a proper loaf throughout the 19th Century. Twenty odd year later this would probably look quaint as the sliced bread revolution swept the USA and came to Britain shortly afterwards.

Notice that there is no baton shaped bread. Can't remember when the staple shape of French bread made its appearance in the supermarkets. Definitely in the early 1980's in Chorlton.

There is a good article in The Atlantic magazine : "The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread: A Brief History of Sliced Bread. Has some good pictures including an illustration of the 1928 patent for the slicing machine.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Afternoon Film Show

Made it to the pleasant Wednesday afternoon talk about films made by co-operatives. It was at the Working Class Movement Library on a sunny day in Salford. We got to see some video to illustrate the talk. The picture in this post is a screen capture of Stanley Holloway who featured in a comedic role in one of the movies for the CWS.

Now I had seen most of the material before but not for years. There is something in the phrase "you see what you know". In two of the clips I spotted two CWS soap powders Spel and Paddy. A few months ago I wouldn't have noticed them but having written a couple of posts about them, and since they had more hits than usual the images stuck in my mind. I ask you - boxes of long defunct soap powders?

To be brutal this could be labelled as history of entertainment for the retired. To be  bit fairer there were actually a good sprinkling of people with day jobs. Why shouldn't history be an entertainment. It needs to be shared and keeping it interesting is a way of doing this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Capers in the Co-Op

Capers It was the small print in an old advertisement for CWS preserves and pickles that got me thinking. For there in the list of 1926 amidst the chutneys, piccalilli, strawberry jam and etc was CWS capers. The advert is in a earlier post.

Most people in Britain haven't a clue about capers. Is it a fish? For those of you who don't know capers are small, dark green flower buds from Mediterranean countries. They are preserved usually in vinegar, sometimes in olive oil though the best way is in sea salt crystals. The fruit or berries of the caper bush is also available, about the size of an olive, full of tiny seeds and preserved in vinegar.

Yet they have been around since Samuel Pepys was burying his block of Parmesan in the garden to save it from the Great Fire of London. That was on Saturday 4th September 1666 according to his diaries. Those tasty savouries of capers, anchovies and Parmesan were imported for the wealthy to liven up plain fare.
So what why were the CWS supplying capers back in the 1920's? Was caper sauce the favoured accompaniment for fish on the estates of Chorlton? Perhaps people were creating there own tartare sauce too, because capers are one of the ingredients in that.

Somehow I don't think so. Nowadays you can easily obtain capers at several shops in the district. But apparently not at Hardy Lane store nor the other local co-op branches. Piccalilli, olives, picked shallots, gherkins & etc on the shelves. But no capers. They also don't appear very often on a list of extra toppings from the take away pizza shops. Essentially the UK hasn't taken to capers in a big way. None of this answers my question. Why were the CWS supplying capers back in the 1920's? In the meantime you could look up a recipe for spaghetti alla puttanesca and track down some capers to make the sauce.You won't be disappointed.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Co-Op Elections Modern Democracy

Now democracy is a fine thing, even if it doesn't change things at least you can get rid of people. Not that The Co-Operative's annual Area Elections are anything like politics. Well canvassing has always been expressly forbidden in all elections to a co-operative so that removes any chance of acrimony.

In the old Norwest Co-Op days we used to have attend the meeting at Hardy Lane. Listen to verbal reports and put your completed ballot paper in a black box. It was then sealed, a scrutineer elected from the meeting to go to the counting event. It was taken seriously, but then you went home and forgot about it. Different coloured voting slips marking papers with 1,2,3 etc in a single transferable vote system. Politicians have been wittering about proportional representation for years but various systems have been practised by co-op society elections in all that time. 

Today it takes place by post and increasingly online. You even get 25 points to your dividend as a thank you for taking part. Not so sure about the hyperbole that arrives in the mail. Phrases like "Together we can build a better world". It is after all an area election in an organisation that has lots of areas, and from these two are delegated to one of the eight regions, and from these some are delegated to attend the national board. A three tier cake. It's very distant but it does stop the chancer, capetbagger and charmer running the show. Now we have enough of those self regarding egotists in politics. You also get the self regarding windbags at every meeting. At least we are spared that.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another New World Order

New World Order Co-Op Party
There have been numerous books with "The New World Order" in the title. The words always have a sinister ring to me, possibly because I associate the phrase with world domination. Though I've not got a copy of this pamphlet, it being a "Summary of the Co-operative Party's programme for reconstruction", I was attracted by the title to take a picture of the cover. It is in the Working Class Movement Library. Published by the Nottingham Co-operative Society, in 1944 and it fits into 16 pages. If it was by the Co-Operative Party then there would be nothing totalitarian between the covers.

There was an H.G. Wells book published some four year earlier called "The New World Order". Its a plan to unite the nations of the world in order to bring peace and end war. It was republished in 2007 and you can read it online at Project Guttenberg. I suggest Chapter 6 called Socialism Unavoidable and let me know what he was on about. He was 74 and having a rant.

The Frank Leeman pamphlet is consigned to the archives. As for Frank then I know nothing except he could do a Clement Atlee look-a-likey.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Prices Down Penny Savings

A style of advertising price cuts that appears puzzling in the modern 2012 age. The year is 1947 and such generic products as margarine and butter have been reduced by a couple of pence. It was an age of counting the pennies when a penny bought something. No mention of the brand or the actual selling price. Notice it is just the basics apart from the absence of tea, coffee and flour. The "Double Savings" is a reference to the "Divi" being the second saving.

Reference : M&S Co-operative Herald monthly magazines from 1947.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Co-Op Matchbox Labels

A whole series of pictures of matchbox labels was recently uploaded to Flickr by coophistorian as a contribution to Co-Ops Fortnight 2012.

They are a history of an everyday that barely exists in 2012. People don't need matches like they used to, and cheap disposable lighters came along for those who do need a flame.

In the recent past nearly everyone would have needed matches. Not just cigarette smokers, and pipe smokers needed more of them, but to start coal burning fires and ignite gas rings on the stove top. Plus you could do lots of puzzles and tedious party tricks with them.

Hence the marketing opportunity, and they didn't use terms like that, to advertise to your customers. Most of the matchboxes are for the CWS and the matches British Made. But there is a selection from long gone famous Co-Op Societies - e.g. Barnsley British, Brighton, Yorkshire, even Normid. Often these were made in Belgium. Products promoted include Federation Flour, Lutona Cocoa, Prescription Tea (forerunner of 99 tea) and some I'd never heard of like Purple Seal Margarine, Golden Ball Marmalade and Laundene that whisks the dirt away.

Safety Matches So the next time I went into the Co-Op shop I added a box to my purchases. Not that I needed any. But just to see what was was still available.  Price 18p for over 40 brown tipped safety matches in the traditional cardboard box. Made in EU by the Swedish Match Company (they merged with Bryant & May way back in 1926) to form the world's biggest match company. You get a nice illustration of the Ark though matches would have been hard to strike in the deluge. Bit disappointed they didn't say Co-Op.

Matchbox labels from coophistorian on Flickr as a Slideshow, or as a Set (there are some pictures of co-op stores that have snuck in).
Related earlier post Co-Op Matches
You can email : coop AT biffadigital.org with any information that will help in the making of this history.