Sunday, January 29, 2012

Own brand 1970's

Co-operative Label Products (c1970)

The picture is of the 1970's Co-op own brand label.  Very likely still manufactured in CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) factories before they were closed or sold . For example the biscuit factory in Crumpsall, Manchester opened in 1873 finally shutting its doors in 1986 and it might have produced those cream crackers. There is a cream cracker story coming shortly that quintessential dry buscuit that demands a topping. It was invented in Ireland.....

I draw your attention to the cloverleaf logo on these packets. It was introduced in 1968 and adopted by most retail societies and the CWS to create the impression of a national organisation. An attempt to reverse the declining market share with a recognisable brand. Yes it is based on the four-leaf clover, an uncommon variation of three leaf clovers, and good fortune will follow if you find one.

In 1993 it was updated, and used extensively until 2006. But good fortune was hard to find for the co-operative movement during those years. The march of the multiples went on to grab the market share. It is only now with the "The Co-operative" branding do you feel the decline has been halted.

Black and white photo is from the Bishopsgate Institute in London which holds the London Co-operative Society archives. I hope to visit in a few weeks hence. A day out in Shoreditch just for curiosity. They have published lots of photos from the recent past on Flickr.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Old news from the Guildroom

The Barlow Moor Mixed Guild started in 1931 with meetings at the Hardy Lane store. It attracted over 100 members, and in the following season they canvassed for more.

"We are hoping to have a large influx of members when the session commences in earnest, and the committee are now actively engaged in arranging a publicity campaign which will embrace not only Barlow Moor Estate but also surrounding areas where there is not at present any guild. Our guildroom is now on a main thoroughfare and easily accessible by tram and bus..."

"The season will commence on Tuesday 6th September, when the opening social will be held. As we expect to have accomodation for at least 150 people..."

Smoking in 1932

The opening social was billed as a whist drive and dance. When you look at the size of the rooms then a muster of 150 would have made it very packed. Maybe it was. The advert is from the same publication. No doubt a few would have been having a pipe. Note that the tobacco is from the Rochdale Pioneers' factory and not the C.W.S. Though the early co-operators favoured temperance over selling alcohol they never had a problem with tobacco. "In due times the husbans could get from the store the solace of tobacco and the wives the solace of tea" G.J. Holyoake: History of the Rochdale Pioneers 1893

Ref :
Manchester and Salford Co-operative Herald, page 392, 1932

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tram Works #1

The new tram to the airport is going to rumble down this quiet wide road. So over the next year, or is it more like two years, the construction and changes are going to be recorded because we know things will never be the same once the route is opened. A documentary in numerous installments. A minute long, filmed in a sort of time-lapse style, on a quiet grey winter's day in January. Return in the springtime, check the progress, if any....

Friday, January 20, 2012

Those early co-operators

The Manchester and Salford Equitable Co-operative Society which built the Hardy Lane store in its expansion programme of the 1920's and 1930's had humble origins. Most co-operative societies started with renting some small premises and then only branching out when capital permitted. Many hundreds of societies never expanded beyond their one shop.

The M & SE opened for business on the 4th June 1859 in a terraced property at 168 Great Ancoats Street, Manchester. Sales in the first week amounted to £16. The histories of the Society written years later, are brief about the early years and focus mostly on financial growth. However I recently came across a reported speech four years after the commencement of the society. Annecdotes give more insight into the formation events. It was on the occasion of the laying down of the foundation stone for the new Central Stores and Offices in Downing Street, Ardwick on Saturday 7th November 1863.

"Four years last June we opened a shop; but before that it took seven years to organise a committee and commence the society. Out first purchase consisted of eight sacks of flour from the Rochdale Corn Mill, and when the cart drew up, a neighbouring shop keeper asked 'How long before do you expect it to be before you sell all that?' Well it was sold , and before long our weekly sales of flour reached 20 loads; and before the cotton famine the weekly receipts were £1500, but they fell to £500. We have seen the worse, and are not afraid of the future, for the sales are steadily rising"

Monday, January 9, 2012

Queen for the season

Co-operative Rose Queen c.1920's
Writing about a Rose Queen or in this case something similar a Co-operative Queen was not predicted. But it is surprising what turns up in the email inbox. A low-fi scan of a document called "Memories (are made of these)" from a fellow local historian Bernard Leach. He knows I like anything co-op related. A week or so later I spotted a well researched new exhibit at the People's History Museum featuring a dress and trimmings from a Co-operative Queen from the 1920's. So good was the dress that it was saved, re-styled and used as the wedding dress. Re-vamping clothes was a normal practice - as in the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell (1851) for example dramatised for Tv.

You immediately get its cultural significance. Now back to the document, it has a clear handwritten page from someone, Miss M. Dale who was such a local co-operative queen in 1937.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

When it was United

HARDY LANE [UNITED] (349-351 Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 7AH) {U-LS} May04 
This photograph was taken in May 2004 when the store was still its original size, and a branch of United Co-operatives in their Late Shop format, read convenience store. The garden area and billboards are to the right now a car park and a side entrance. There are Labour election posters in the windows of the meeting rooms upstairs very likely from the local elections.

This is from Cooperative Stores on Flickr and if you like photographs of co-op shops and pack shots, that is pictures of products you would find on the shelves then click over there. It's a labour of love.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Floods & Puddles

It's not called Chorlton Ees to give it a fancy name, apparently it is suppose to be an old English word for a low lying water meadow. But you won't find the word ees in the Scrabble dictionary though.

Over the years the banks of River Mersey have been raised and raised again to prevent it flooding and so ending the centuries of the meadows being being under water for weeks in the winter time. However you can see from the picture that heavy rains alone can make the fields waterlogged. Essentially no drainage systems have ever been constructed, and they now are unlikely ever be to put in. Drainage doesn't come cheap and there are no economic benefits to construct them. This is the field east side of the long cobbled road that runs from Brookburn Road. The road has no name but was possibly called Sewage Lane when it was built by Withington Urban District Council in the 1890's for their new sewage farm. Now don't wince when you read the word sewage, it was a fantastic Victorian engineering achievement to ship it out of our towns. The sewage has now gone elsewhere but the ancient flooded fields of Chorlton still return every winter.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

International Year of Co-operatives 2012

To give it the full title it's the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives 2012. The chance to promote and celebrate the co-operative model.

Month 1, and another 11 to follow. Lots of events happening in Manchester and worldwide...
The Co-operative 2012
Co-ops UK 2012
You can email : coop AT with any information that will help in the making of this history.