Monday, April 30, 2012

Garibaldi at the Co-Op

Garibaldi biscuits
Garibaldi visited England in April 1864. He was world famous before the yacht landed at the Isle of Wight, he was a sensation when he stayed in London. [ Now before you read more can I point out that his name is pronounced Gary-Bal-Dee ]. Everyone wanted to meet him, he drew massive crowds at speaking engagements and received hundreds of invitations.

Manchester wanted him to visit. A Manchester Working Men's Garibaldi Reception Committee was got together and the Free Trade Hall was going to be the venue. However the legendary hero left abruptly, supposedly on ill-health grounds but really under pressure from the British Government. Whilst it had suited British foreign policy to remove the Austrians from the Italian states and have a unified new country it didn't want a radical, inspirational revolutionary touring the industrial provinces. Garibaldi's notions of democracy, emancipation, freedom and women's rights were not on the political agenda of the ruling classes.

So what do we have. Italy has thousands of squares, roads and statues to the great man. Britain has a biscuit originally produced by Peak Freans in 1861. A type of blouse and shirt popular then but not seen now. Also the colours of Nottingham Forest football club who adopted red in honour of the Garibaldi's irregular army of Red Shirts. Arsenal play in red because Forest gifted them a full kit years later.

However disappointed as the people of Manchester were the M&SE Co-Op produced an hagiographic address which they forwarded to our hero.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

IYC 2012...more

International Year of Co-operatives
I don't suppose this smart new camper van, drop in the words iconic and retro at this point, will be visiting Chorlton but it is touring the nation. All for the promotion of the International Year of Co-operatives 2012. It'll be in Manchester on Saturday 5th May. At the People's History Museum at 1000, and MOSI at 1400. You can find out more and if it is visiting your bit of the country at

Family Fare

Acquired an old cookery book last week. Not that I need anymore I've got two big shelves full of them. But this is Family Fare published by the CWS around 1955. It is of its day with a company's products mentioned on every page. For example use four ounces of CWS Silver Seal margarine and 2 ounces of CWS Federation S.R. Flour. The book addresses the woman of the house who wants to produce cakes and savouries for the family. Well women lost their job when they got married in those days and were expected to be little home makers. There are two pages on cooking herrings with a recipe for every month. Some more on Continental Cookery - Croquettes aux Crevettes from Belgium, Chicken Maryland (USA), Mousssaka a la Bos (Greece) for it doesn't have aubergines in it. Well there were no aubergines in Britain for at least another 20 years...
Other sections include jam making, home wine making and toffee. As some one who makes the odd loaf of bread I was puzzled by the CWS Federation flour being used for both making pastry and making bread. These days we have a plain flour and a strong bread flour.

I can't find any information on the famous TV cookery expert in the picture. But around that time the CWS put on exhibitions called Family Fare in cities in England and Wales. You'd have stalls, brass bands, and fashion parades.

Note also the CWS logo from the 1950's. It represents a wheatsheaf but I always think it looked like a thumbprint.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tribune Archive

Over the years I've subscribed to many a left-ish magazine for a year or so. Some are still around New Statesman, Tribune and Red Pepper. Some have disappeared from the newsstands - Labour Weekly, New Socialist and others I don't recall.

Anyway there is a great archive of articles from The Tribune 1937-2011. It's every political battle for over 60 years. It is searchable, and as ever I put in the word "co-operation". The returns run into hundreds. Everything from Co-operative Party Conference reports, the need for mergers, and the links with the Labour Party. You might prefer the landmarks of Pearl Harbour, Miners Strike, Berlin Wall or the Tet Offensive. It's all there with those typos that come from digitizing print media to e-media.

There is a whole series "At the sign of the Wheatsheaf" which runs throughout the 1950's and 60's - one of those editorial advertisement features about current topics with a plug for CWS products. You'll need the link. Here it is : archive tribune.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Co-Op Farms

Co-op Membership Magazine The Co-operative magazine for all members arrived yesterday. I think it is published quarterly. An easy light read of recipes, offers, and travel. This one had an informative article about Co-operative Farms, all 50,000 acres of them.

I was surprised that the biggest crop was wheat. Also that half the rapeseed crop is used for bio-fuel to heat the head office in Manchester. How long has this been going on?

This is big scale agriculture but it was interesting to see where the produce that is clearly labelled British in the Co-operatives 2,801 stores.

Pictures are from the magazine, and as ever they have been uploaded to Flickr.

Co-op Farms

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sauces of Empire

TT sauce CWS If there ever was a sauce of the Empire it would have to be Lea & Perrins Worcester Sauce, born in that town in 1837. It has the ingredients of Empire - sugar, molasses and tamarind. Though most people in Britain wouldn't know what tamarind looks like or that comes from India. But they've certainly tasted it for it also in the biggest brand of table sauce - HP Sauce. House of Parliament on the label, a favourite of Prime Minister Harold Wilson and now made in the Netherlands. That says what happened to Empire. It was overtaken by global capitalism and multi-nationals.

The picture is of TT sauce made by the CWS. It was around in the time of WWI, maybe even later. Now the Empire is shown on the hemispheres with the Dominions, the Raj and a colony. Not the East African acquisitions of Rhodesia, Uganda, Kenya etc. Ceylon isn't even on the map.

There were lots of sauces in bottles and usually they had two initials for their name. The CWS also had one called JP Sauce which carried on until at least the late 1950's. Unfortunately I've only got this bad reproduction of a TT Sauce label and no ingredient list. I have a theory why bottles of sauce have always been popular. It goes bland food, and making your own sauce for your meal is a step too far in skill or time. So reach for the bottle and liven up your plate with a consistent condiment.

This was No.6 in the Foods of Empire Series at the Co-Op.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pop Up Demo

Unite MMP disputeUnite MMP dispute Usually it is history posts but I was passing by and hurriedly snatched some photos of a demonstration outside the Hardy Lane Co-Op store. By the time I returned after completing whatever it was I was doing elsewhere there was all quiet again. No evidence of any demonstration.

So what was it all about? Why were Unite members outside a branch of The Co-operative around midday on a Monday? But then I spotted an A5 small white sheet of paper on the floor. The other side revealed all....

There is a dispute in Bootle. MMP (Mayr-Melnhof Packaging) have locked out and sacked all their workers. Can you believe lock-outs, it's like the 1920's returned..what happened to rights under law?

What does Unite want?
"For the Co-Op to honour its commitments under the ETI Base Code and intervene to ensure that MMP respect the rights of its British workforce and return to the negotiating table in good faith." That's what the leaflet stated.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Origins of M&S

The story of a meeting by the young men of the Roby Brotherhood on Christmas Day 1858 is given as the start of the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-operative. I quite like this artists impression of one of their meeting made 100 years later. But deep down you know it paints a myth of how it was.

The chaps were mostly in their late twenties and early thirties. Working men, young dads, who attended the Roby Chapel, a noted Congregationalist Church and Sunday School in Manchester founded by William Roby. They would have worked six days a week, so a Saturday off work for Christmas Day would have been most welcome. Though they would have lost a days wages. They met at a small house at 22 Pump Street, Manchester set amongst  mills, workshops and ironworks. Across London Road would have been a new railway station for Manchester (the one now called Piccadilly). Pump Street and most of this area was redeveloped at the start of the 20th Century when Whitworth Street and grander buildings were constructed. The old fire station was built on the site of Pump Street.

If you've ever organised a meeting then you'll know the getting enough seating is the first priority. You couldn't imagine a long table and lots of matching chairs like some upper middle class dinner party. Well not in small terraced abode on narrow cobbled street. The room would have been packed.

Anyway they decided to form a co-operative on the lines of the Pioneers of Rochdale who had already been successfully trading for 15 years. They would rent a shop and when they had raised £100 and had 100 members it would open. Six months later that plan came to fruition. On the 4th June 1859 the shop opened at 168 Great Ancoats Street.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cookbook of Empire

Victorian Cook book
I was given a tattered copy of a small book "A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes" many years ago. Written by Charles Elme Francatelli back in 1852. For me it was a mere curiosity not being my style of cuisine. It is not an original but a 1978 reprint, and subsequent reprints you can still purchase. However the other week I came across the following...
"In January 1860 T. B. Potter Esq. M.P. presented 1,500 of Francatelli's cookery books for distribution amongst the members."

A generous gift to the M&SE Co-op from the radical politician and member for Rochdale, who would be well known to the directors of the Society. They shared the same politics of support for the Union cause in the American Civil War with the Union & Emancipation Society, and support for Garibaldi, a hero to radicals all over the world. Burning topics of the day.

Though Mr. Francatelli made his living and reputation as a chef for the toffs it was practical cookery books for the lower classes that he is remembered for. Those with an interest in improvement and ability for self-help might have found them useful. Recipes for a pie of small birds, or cooking oysters when those creatures were plentiful are included. How to cook potatoes in several styles covers some of the basics. Over a full page is given over to the humble haricot.

Besides the recipes it starts with what kitchen equipment to purchase. Those Victorians had to be content with a black cooking range with an oven next to a coal fire. Smoke, ash and no thermostats. A contrast to the current times when people have the best kitchens in the whole of human history but rely on ready made sauces and takeaways. Cooking from scratch ingredients is a minority activity, back then it was a neccessity. The values of economy and no waste still hold good today, even if the vegetables are boiled to almost mush. 

I'm going to use one of the recipes. It's long overdue. Some interesing biscuits called "Ginger Nuts". They are shaped like walnuts, and ginger was a popular spice in the days of Empire...

References :

Wikipedia entry for Charles Francatelli
Free e-book version
Manchester & Salford Co-operative Herald 1909 page 153

Monday, April 16, 2012

Guilds in the 1970's

Norwest Co-op
Previous posts have told about activities of the Barlow Moor Mixed Guild, founded in 1931. The year of formation of organisations is recorded and celebrated with birthdays but the decline and dissolution is rarely written about. They fade and are no longer mentioned.

In the Norwest Members Handbook 1975-76 there is no mention of the Barlow Moor members meeting at Hardy Lane. However Didsbury Guild, a mixed guild for both men and women and affiliated to the National Guild of Co-Operators are holding their meetings at Hardy Lane.

So here are list of the remaining guilds :
Women's Guilds
Ashton-on-Mersey, Cheadle, Knutsford, Ladybarn, Stockport, Stretford (meeting at Taylor's Road, Gorse Hill), and Yew Tree. That's seven.

National Guild of Co-Operators (mixed guilds)
Didsbury, Heaton Moor, Hyde, Offerton, Old Trafford & Firswood (meeting at St.John's Lesser Hall, Ayres Road), Woodhouse Park, and Wythenshawe. That's also seven.

Also listed in the booklet is the Norwest Co-Op Young Wives Group in Hattersley. Then there are two Woodcraft Folk groups in Chorlton. The Elfins 6-9 years meet at Chorlton C of E School, and the Pioneers 10-13 years are at Hardy Lane on a Monday night.

For the seniors there was a Norwest Over 60's Club at Hardy Lane on a Tuesday at 1430h.

In 2011 only a small Wythenshawe Guild remained with 18 registered members. The nearest Women's Guild is in Runcorn. Woodcraft Folk carry on and the South Manchester Members Group now fulfil what would have been guild activity.

Links :
Co-operative Women's Guild

Saturday, April 14, 2012

WCML Visit

Jubilee Herald 100 years
Made an appointed visit to the Working Class Movement Library at 51 The Crescent in Salford. Have this journey well organised now. Tram from Chorlton to Deansgate, cross the bridge to the rail station, then catch a train just one stop to Salford Crescent. Coming back took train to Manchester Victoria, cross over to the tram to Chorlton. Not bad for a £3.20 rail zone one ticket.

The stuff I wanted to look at was waiting on the table. They have a lot more than they mention in the online catalogue. Browsed away for a couple of hours, snapping away with the camera instead of making copious notes.

Best bit was a centenary issue of the Herald magazine of the M&SE Co-Op published in 1959. Though I've concentrated on the Manchester & Salford because it is more interesting and further back in time the fact is the Hardy Lane store has been operated for longer under successor  societies. Norwest Co-Op took over in 1970 when the M&SE merged with the Pennine society and the Stockport society. Further mergers brought the Norwest Pioneers, United Norwest, then United and finally The Co-Operative.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Old Delivery Bike

This old bicycle has seen better days. A lot of us will remember them. Sturdy, heavy, no gears, and rod lever brakes. Tough work for hills and into the wind. Now just collectors items, museum pieces or a prop for a costume drama. Personally I'd like one but in working order. The postman / postwoman's bicycle delivery bike has recently been phased out.

Will delivery bicycles make a come-back? Just like the way trams returned to our streets after 40 odd years.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Biscuits 1929

The advert is for CWS biscuits available back in the 1920's when this Co-Op store opened. I've no evidence that the CWS was an innovative biscuit maker but rather it took established popular types and produced them for their members, the retail Co-Op Societies.

Some of these varieties are still available though no longer manufactured in co-operative factories. The legendary Crumpsall Cream Cracker has passed into memory but the original Jacob's is still a national treasure. Ireland's contribution to snack culture dating from 1885.

Ginger Nut (circa 1840 and I have a recipe for them in a walnut shape from 1852), Petit Beurre (1886 in Nantes, France), Osborne (Huntley & Palmer 1860) and Marie (Peak Freans 1874) are still with us. Teatime exists as a variety pack these days. Fairy Cakes (circa 1796) have recently morphed into the larger size more sugary topped Cup Cakes. Just what the country didn't need, a lack of portion control to replicate American obesity levels.

But what about the Royal George and the Royal Princess? Royalty names for biscuits and confectionery has always been a good marketing feature. For last year's royal wedding special tins by McVities were sold in stores. Same for the President, the intriguing Trevenna or the mysterious Devon Finger? They might still exist under a different name. For example the Gypsy Cream so beloved of script writers and the writer Alan Bennett, which is now the more politically correct Romany Cream.

Now I'm taking a guess here that these are packet biscuits. The M&SE Co-Op also sold loose biscuits at 11d per pound (about 4.5p for 453.5 gms) in 1929. In an advert in the December issue of the M&S Co-operative Herald the following varieties are listed :- Ceylon, Coconut King, Water, Almond Nuts, and Playtime.

East West Home's Best biscuit tin is in an art deco style from the CWS circa 1930. Advert is from The People's Year Book 1926 published by the CWS Manchester and the SCWS Glasgow - a volume of specific information prepared by the Co-Operative Press Agency. An annual first published in 1918.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Since 1859

Scotmid Carrier BagI was visiting Edinburgh only last weekend, and chanced to make a few purchases at a local Co-Op store. Obviously spotted the wording on the carrier bag "at the heart of Scottish communities since 1859". Scotmid didn't operate until 1981, and the 1859 is the year of formation of St.Cuthbert's Co-operative Association. The rule is you always pick the date of the oldest Society in any amalgamation. 1859 is the same year as the formation of the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-op.

The M&SE started when they had 100 members and over £100 in capital, St.Cuthbert's opened with only 63 members and only £30 capital. It took many years for it to grow into a thriving Society.

One interesting fact about St.Cuthbert's is "the directors were, for twenty-two years, not in any way selected, but were simply taken from the roll of members. The names were called out at a quarterly meeting, and the person called upon could either accept or decline office as he thought proper....not until 1881 when capital was nearly £10,000 and the annual sales reached £30,000 did the members choose whom they thought best qualified for the office."

St.Cuthbert's made the last horse drawn deliveries of milk in 1985. This and some other history is in a timeline is at the Scotmid website.

Scotmid 150 years
The quote above is from a footnote in The Consumers' Co-operative Movement by Sydney and Beatrice Webb, 1921, who reference First Fifty Years of St.Cuthbert's Co-operative Association edited by William Maxwell, 1909. The Webb's book is out of print and I use a battered 1930 edition but it is available online at Archive.Org

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Herald

The source of much information about the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-operative was the monthly publication, given away free in the stores. These are three covers from 1940 and as you'd expect have the patriotic tone of wartime. You could spend a small fortune bidding for co-operative memorabilia on that e-bay.

The nearest I've come to a complete collection 1889 - 1960 in slim bound volumes is at the National Co-operative Archives in Manchester. But even they are missing a few.

Other Societies issued similar monthly magazines, and those that didn't often gave away a CWS publication called Wheatsheaf that had local news section.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Beech Road Co-op

Old Step M&S Co-op
There used to be a M&SE Co-op store on Beech Road, Chorlton. Try as I might I have never found a photograph of it. Even Andrew Simpson with his weblog of Chorlton history hasn't discovered one yet, and he has a knack of acquiring long forgotten postcards and old photographs.

The shop opened around 1915 or 1916. It is in the Street Directory for 1916. A butchers opened some years later around the corner. By 1967 they were gone. So in that 50 years it must have been captured on camera.

All we have to remind us is the mosaic step at the entrance to 64 Beech Road. The familiar green and white of the Society.

64 Beech Road Chorlton

The upstairs was used as Co-op Meeting room for social functions, Womens Guild, talks and such like. Very likely the entrance was on Stockton Road. Previous to its co-op days it was also a grocery store with the proprietor Nathianal Burrows.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Coffees of Empire

The fourth in a series entitled "Foods of the Empire". The victuals people would buy at their local Co-Op when the maps of the world had large areas shaded in red.

You somehow feel that Britain has come to terms with its imperialist past. The recent BBC Tv five part series "Empire", an excellent travelogue / documentary with Jeremy Paxman suggests that.

Here is coffee essence a peculiar British product. A thick gooey syrup that was suppose to taste like coffee after hot water was poured over it. It is still retailed in places but I can't bear to purchase any. I remember it first time around. Ingredients : 40% water, 30% sugar, 26% chicory essence, 4% coffee essence, stabilisers and thickeners.

The label says everything about Empire and that later creation the Commonwealth. Manufactured by Patterson & Sons in Glasgow from 1875. The iconic label of an military officer in the Gordon Highlanders and a Sikh gentleman being a waiter / batman serving up the delicious sweet drink. That was the black and white days. Now the firm is a brand of the McCormick & Company (think of those over-priced Schwartz herbs and spices) it has been re-designed with both chaps sitting together enjoying the beverage. There was an intermediate design of the chap in his turban standing with the tray airbrushed out. Redolent of those Stalinist era photographs, when the old Bolsheviks got removed from the picture after Uncle Joe had them executed.

Getting back to the beverage I've always wondered why Britain, in the days of Empire, never got to grips with coffee making at home? Also the use of chicory in this product is an interesting and separate story. It can make an acceptable drink when there is a coffee shortage but there wasn't one.
You can email : coop AT with any information that will help in the making of this history.