Co-operative Societies

The Archive holds many records relating to individual co-operative societies. These include minute books of society committees and sub-committees, financial records, photographs, reports, member registers, letters and society histories. These records are useful for researching family history, national and local events and for learning about the formation of co-operative societies.
The societies that the Archive hold records for are those that merged to form: the Midlands Co-operative Society, the Northern Region of the Co-operative Retail Services and the South Midlands and the South East Regions of the Co-operative Group. We also hold the records of some smaller societies.

ADS - Adlington Co-operative Society

Adlington Industrial Co-operative Society became a registered co-operative society in 1872. By 1887 they were based at Railway Road and had a branch store at Church Street. At this point membership was 170. By 1951 membership had rose to 2215 and the central premises were at Peel Street. In 1951 they had branches at Chorley Road, Church Street, Market Place, Park Road and Railway Road. In 1965 the society transferred engagements to Bolton & District Co-operative Society.

The records cover the period 1872-1935 and consist of Committee minute books, reports and balance sheets, Sub-committee for revision of rules minute book, deed abstracts and statement of accounts.

DCD – North-West Durham Co-operative Dairies Ltd Durham Dairies (Annfield Plain) Ltd

In 1930 a Special Milk Sub-Committee was established to set up a federal dairy for the supply of milk to households in the Durham area. Societies represented were Annfield Plain, Blaydon, Burnopfield, Consett, Craghead, Leadgate, Swalwell, West Stanley, West Pelton and Chester-le-Street. The Dairies opened in July 1932. In 1972 the name was changed to Durham Dairies (Annfield Plain) Ltd. Business continued until in 1985 the premises at Annfield Plain were sold to Associated Co-operative Creameries and the final General Meeting took place in October 1986.

The collection comprises Committee Minutes from 1930 to 1986 and handwritten notes, letters and papers relating to the final Ordinary General Meeting.

FIS - Failsworth Industrial Society

The Failsworth Industrial Society was formed in 1859 with 14 members and opened its first shop in Dob Lane on 28th March 1859. In 1977 Failsworth Society became part of Norwest Co-operative Society. This collection consists of records relating to the properties acquired by the Failsworth Co-operative Society Ltd and cover the period 1877-1922. The records include wills, abstract of the title documents, statutory declarations, replies to requisitions on title documents, schedules, property plans and correspondence.

HCFS – Harlow/Playhouse Co-operative Film Society Collection

The society was originally founded in September 1950 as the Bishop’s Stortford and District Film Society. It was formed to give people the chance to see films not usually seen in the district, for example amateur, independent and international films. Over the years the society changed names to the Harlow Film Society, Harlow Co-operative Film Society and Playhouse Co-operative Film Society. Lack of membership was a problem for the society during its existence and it was wound up for the final time in 1993.

The collection, covering the period 1950-200o, consists of minutes, accounts, newsletters, programmes, film notes, and general correspondence and documents from and related to the film society.

JGC - Printing Plates of Coventry and District Co-operative Society

This collection consists of printing plates showing scenes relating to Coventry Co-operative Society. The printing plates are metal and mounted on wooden blocks.

LBC - Lothian and Borders Co-operative Society

The Lothian and Borders Co-operative Society (LBC) was formed in 1992 following the amalgamation of two Regional Societies: Border Regional and East Lothian. These themselves had come together through the merger of several smaller societies. In July 1998 a merger was proposed between LBC and East Angus Co-operative Society which took place in 1998. This society became the Lothian, Borders, and Angus Co-operative Society which in 2008 became part of the Co-operative Group.

The collection, covering 1840-1994, consists of reports and balance sheets,  minutes and rule books, members records, correspondence and photographs. The societies covered in the collection include Annan and District, Arbroath, Carronbridge, Creetown and District, Dumfries, Dumfries and Maxwelltown, Dunbar and Westbarns, East Lothian, Galashiels, Haddington, Hawick, Innerleithen, Jedburgh, Lothian and Borders, Peebles, Queen of the South, Selkirk, Tranent and Haddington, Tranent and Westbarns.

LPS - Leicester Co-operative Printing Society Limited

The Leicester Co-operative Printing Society was formed on 23 July 1892. The creation of a printing co-operative was initially considered by a Joint Committee made up of representative from the Leicester Co-operative Society and from the Trade Union Council. Premises were secured on Vauxhall Street and the first manager, Mr WS Wallin was appointed on 17 December 1892. Printing orders were taken from the beginning of 1893.

The records, covering 1872-1943, consist of financial records, legal agreements, property and premises records and photographs.

MID – Midlands Co-operative Society

This collection is made up of the records of the societies that merged to form the Midlands Co-operative Society. The collection consists of minute books of the society committees and sub-committees, reports and balance sheets, attendance registers, trust deeds, account books, letter books and share registers. The collection covers the period 1854-2011.

The societies include: Alcester, Ashby De La Zouch, Birmingham, Burbage, Burton-on-Trent, Coalville, Codnor Park & Ironville, Cosby, Derby, Enderby, Glenfield, Great Glen, Halesowen & Hasbury, Hathern, Huncote, Kettering, Kirkby Muxloe, Langley Mill & Aldercar, Leicester, Loughborough, Market Harborough, Markfield, Mayfield, Melton Mowbray, Mountsorrel, Oadby, Quordon, Ripley, Rothley, Rothwell, Shepshed & Hathern, Soho, Stafford & Stone, Ten Acres & Stirchley, Thrapston, Whetstone and Wigston.

MMC – Metropolitan Motor Cab Co-operative Society

The Metropolitan Motor Cab Co-operative Society was set up in 1927, with the first garage located in the railway arches at 320a Coldharbour Lane, London SW9. The collection consists of the minute books of the Management Committee and the members’ meetings. The records cover the period 1927-1977 and give a fascinating insight into how the society managed to survive throughout the Second World War.

NCRS – Co-operative Retail Services (Northern Region)

Co-operative Retail Services began life in 1934 under the original title of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) Retail Society. It had two main purposes: firstly, either to assist struggling local retail societies or to take over those societies which had no future as independent units and no opportunity to amalgamate with a stronger neighbour, and, secondly, to further the development of co-operative trading in areas in which co-operative societies were not yet represented. This collection is made up of the records of the societies that merged to form the Northern Region of the Co-operative Retail Services.

The collection consists of minute books of the society committees and sub-committees, reports and balance sheets, account books, photographs, deeds, correspondence, newspaper cuttings, nomination books and property registers.

The societies include: Almondbury, Barnsley British, Birkenhead, Bridge End, Brierfield, Burnley, Castleford, Cawthorne, Close Hill, Colne, Conisborough, Cragg Vale, Denaby Main, Doncaster, Flockton, Garston, Great Grimsby, Halifax, Haslingden, Hill House, Hinchliffe Mill, Holmfield, Huddersfield, Hull, Kippax, Leigh, Liverpool, Longwood, Market Weighton, Marsden, Masborough, Meltham Mills, Morley, Mytholmroyd, Nelson, Padiham, Pendle, Pocklington, Ravensthorpe, Rawtenstall, Rotherham, Scissett, Scunthorpe, South Crosland & Netherton, Stainland & Holywell Green, Wakefield, and Walsden.

PES - The People's Entertainment Society

The society was founded in 1941 by Labour Co-operative Politician Alfred John Barnes (1887-1974) and continued until the mid 1950s.  Its ethos was “To provide for the People the best entertainment in all its most infinite variety”, providing affordable, quality entertainment to all members of society throughout difficult war times.  The entertainment in question was mainly theatrical performances of plays, most notably those of J.B. Priestly, a prominent English writer and dramatisations of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery stories.  The Society also partnered up with other companies such as the Metropolitan Ballet, the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (C.E.M.A., now the Arts Council of Great Britain) and even dancers from Yugoslavia.

The collection, covering 1940-1955, consists of annual reports and balance sheets; material published by the Society; theatre and production programmes; draft reviews and articles about the society and its productions; a number of newspaper clippings about the Society and its productions; material on The National Theatre Club, a similar project set up by Alfred Barnes, founder of the People’s Entertainment Society; and material relating to the theatres owned by the Society.

SEC – South East Retail Group (CWS)

The South East Retail Group (CWS) was formed in 1985 following the merger of Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society in 1985 and South Suburban Co-operative Society in 1984 into the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS). The purpose of the Retail Group was to administer retail operations of the CWS in the South East region. Following 1985, further societies in the region merged with CWS and these localities joined the retail group. This collection is made up of the records of these societies, including minute books of the committees and sub-committees, reports and balance sheets, account books, agreements, photographs, posters, correspondence, maps and plans, deeds and newspaper cuttings.

The societies include: Addlestone, Ashford, Brighton, Chatham, Cliffe at Hoo, Cobham, Dartford, Dorking, Faversham and Thanet, Gillingham,Godalming, Gravesend, Guildford, Haselmere, Invicta, Rainham,Royal Arsenal, Sheerness, Sittingbourne, South Suburban, Slough, Sunningdale, and Woking.

SGM – Stockport Great Moor Co-operative Society

As early as 1831 a group of men in Stockport were working together in a co-operative enterprise. They had grouped together to buy items in bulk, such as meat, flour, butter, treacle and sugar, and then divided the items out amongst themselves. Two groups like this developed. One of the groups became so large that they began renting the front room of a cottage on Buxton Road to use as a shop. Shortly afterwards in 1844, the other group joined up with them. The group was then named Stockport Great Moor Co-operative.

This collection, covering 1830-1890, consists of early records of the Stockport Great Moor Co-operative Society. The records include Managing Committee minute books, general purposes minute books, receipts, stock lists, account books and rule books.

SICS - Stalybridge Industrial Co-operative Society

The Stalybridge Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd was formed on 7th March 1859 by 11 men and opened its first shop on 11 November 1859 in Water Street. This collection consists of records relating to the purchase of property, by the Society, on Cheetham Hill Road, Dukinfield. The records, covering 1895-1898, include valuations of property, reports on valuations and correspondence.

SMD – South Midlands Region (CWS)

This collection is made up of the records of the societies in the South Midlands region of the Co-operative Group. The collection consists of minute books of the society committees and sub-committees, account books, reports and balance sheets, Co-operative Party branch records, photographs, packaging, and newspaper cuttings. The societies include; Enfield & St Albans, Enfield Highway, St Albans, and Cheshunt.

X10 - Co-operative Education Fellowship: Southport Branch

The Southport branch of the Co-operative Educational fellowship was formed at the final meeting of the Men’s Guild on 14 May 1929. The fellowship was open to both sexes and aimed to develop a sense of co-operative comradeship and an understanding of co-operative ethics. The branch existed until 25th June 1946 when the decision was taken to close the fellowship.

The collection consists of a minute book (1929-1946).

X13- Papers of United Co-operative Society, High Peak Area, Buxton Entertainments Contest

The Buxton Entertainments Contest was a Brass Bands competition held by the United Co-operative Society (previously Norwest Co-operative and United Norwest Co-operative), at the Buxton Pavilion Gardens, between 1972 and 2006. The contest was open to both members and non-members of the North West Area Brass Bands Association, though bands that did compete could not be ranked within the championship section.

This collections deals with materials relating primarily to the Buxton Entertainments Contest, but there are also items for the Buxton Brass Band Festival, which was held by the North West Area Brass Bands Association.

X18- Longwood Industrial Co-operative Society

The Longwood Industrial Co-operative Society was established in 1859 and was based in Longwood, Huddersfield. Its central premises were at 99 Longwood-Gate. Its was involved in various businesses and trades including grocery, drapery, hardware, boots and shoes, butchery, furnishings, ironmongery, earthenware, coals, flour and clogging. By the late 1960s the society had 1,336 members. By 1968 it conducted business in grocery, butchery and cooked meats, bread and confectionary, greengrocery and fruit, drapery, fashion and footwear over a range of premises in Longwood. The society went into liquidation on 21 Jan 1970.

The collection consists of sales ledgers (1873-1903).

X19 - Hollingworth Industrial Co-operative Society

Hollingworth Industrial Co-operative Society was formed in 1864. In 1933 the society transferred its engagements to Glossop Dale Co-operative Society. At the point of transferring they had 747 members and a branch shop at Mottram-in-Longdendale.

The collection consists of minute books (1896-1932).

X20- Newhey Co-operative Society

In 1902 there were two Societies in Newhey – the Industrial Society and the Provident Society. The Industrial Co-operative had 453 members, 7 employees and sales of £282 weekly. The Provident had only 54 members, one employee and sales of £21 a week. By 1910, the Provident Society disappears from the records. Newhey Industrial was formed in 1881 at 39A Huddersfield Road. The Society served the local community for over 80 years with food, clothing and footwear, and sometimes coal and furniture. Due to a decline in sales, in 1968 the members decided to merge with Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society.

The Collection consists of Committee minutes (1915-1943) and an account book (1927-1940).

X22 - Wheelton Prospect & Industrial Co-operative Society

Wheelton Prospect & Industrial Co-operative Society was formed in 1866 near Chorley in Lancashire. By 1887 they were trading from Bennet Row and had a membership of 78. By 1905 membership had increased to 110 and they had opened a branch at Withnell Fold. In 1969 the society transferred engagements to Bolton & District Co-operative Society.

The collection consists of Committee minute books (1898-1920).

X23- North Yorkshire Co-operative Society

North Yorkshire Co-operative Society was formed in 1984 through the merger of Harrogate and York co-operative societies. Further societies later transferred engagements to North Yorkshire including Northallerton in 1985, Airedale and Guisborough societies in 1987 and Ossett in 1988. In 1993 North Yorkshire Co-operative Society became Yorkshire Co-operatives.

The collection consists of records of North Yorkshire Co-operative Society and the societies that merged with it including York Co-operative Society, Northallerton and District Co-operative Society, Guiseley Industrial Co-operative Society and Tadcaster Co-operative Society. The records include plans, programmes, pamphlets, correspondence and photographs.

X24- Middleton & Tonge Industrial Society: Branch Managers' Association

The Middleton & Tonge Industrial Society: Branch Managers Association was formed in 1955 with the aim of providing “social welfare of the members and well being of the society.” Members had to be bon-a-fied branch managers. The Association met every few months and had its annual meeting the second Tuesday in January. The Association was still in operation in 1979.

The collection consists of meeting minutes (1955-1979).

X26- Records of Preston Industrial Co-operative Society Travelling Butcher's Shop

The travelling butcher shop travelled the Fylde area delivering mainly to farmers. The vehicles did not have fridges or hand wash bowls. Therefore the butcher got up about 4am to go to work to load his van with meat and try to deliver the meat before the sun was too hot at lunch time. Some customers would make him his lunch when he called. If the butcher wanted a Saturday off he would work all day Friday from 4am to midnight. When he returned to the Co-operative store at Moor Lane he would have to scrub all the wooden work tops to keep the van clean before he could go home.

The collection consists of price lists, notes of travelling butcher’s rounds, and customer ledger.

X27- Cumbrian Co-operative Society stationery

Cumbrian Co-operative Society was formed in 1971 through the merger of several smaller co-operative societies including Workington, Egremont, Haltwhistle Greenhead, Maryport, Alston and Carlisle South End. In the years that followed several other societies transferred engagements including Nenthead in 1973, Kirkby Stephen in 1982, Ulverston in 1983 and Barrow in 1984. In 1992 Cumbrian Co-operative Society became a retail branch of the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

The collection consists of blank letter headed papers, forms, envelopes and notes of Cumbrian Co-operative Society and the societies that merged into it.

X28- New Mills Co-operative Society

New Mills Co-operative Society started on 22 October 1860 when a group of New Mills men bought a cow and divided the beef among them. The first shop was on the High Street and progress was slow but by 1920 the had a membership of 3,270. Throughout the twentieth century the society held a very prominent position in New Mills, however, by 1972 the society was in decline. It was therefore decided, in 1973, that the society would merge to become part of the larger Norwest Co-operative Society.

This collection consists of half yearly and quarterly reports and balance sheets of New Mills Co-operative Society (1924-1960).

X29- Escrick and District Co-operative Society

Escrick and District Co-operative Society was formed in 1872 along the principles of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society. The society had a presence in the village throughout the twentieth century and also established a branch store at Wheldrake. The society operated until 1971 when it merged with York Co-operative Society.

This collection consists of reports and balance sheets, correspondence, order receipts, rough notes regarding distribution of surplus and papers regarding the Federal Superannuation Fund.

X32- Bamfurlong Co-operative Society

Bamfurlong Co-operative Society was registered in 1887 and changed its name around 1916 to the Platt Bridge and District Co-operative Society. It was later acquired by the St. Helens Industrial Co-operative Society in 1963 which later became a part of the United Norwest Co-operatives. This changed its name to United Co-operatives in 2002 which was acquired by the Co-operative Group in 2007.

The collection consists of minutes of board meetings (1894-1898).

X33- Wigan Co-operative Stores

The Wigan Co-operative Stores seem to be a failed prelude to the Wigan Co-operative Society which was established in 1889. The collection consists of a contributions ledger (1876-1879).

X34- Windermere District Industrial Co-operative Society

The Windemere District Industrial Co-operative Society was established in 1865. Its central premises were in Victoria Street, Windemere. Upon opening its first shop in May 1865 the society had 85 members. It traded mainly in groceries, shoes and boots, earthenware and flour. By 1966 it had 1,800 members and traded solely in groceries. It merged into Lancastria Co-operative Society on 25 January 1969.

This collection consists of a report of the society (1865).

X37- Inverness Co-operative Society

Inverness Co-operative Society was established in 1904. Its central premises were at 40 Academy Street and traded solely in grocery. In 1905 it had 187 members. By 1940 the society had its central premises at 61 Church Street and branches at 78 Academy Street, 20 Bank Street, 59 and 65 Church Street and 2-6 Lochalsh Road. At this time it was trading in groceries, butchering, confectionery, drapery, shoes and boots, coal, hardware, furnishings and milk. It was in production for baking, confectionery, slaughtering and meat preparation. It had 4,611 members. It voluntarily wound up business in 1945.

The collection consists of reports and balance sheets (1908-1930).

X38- Beswick Co-operative Society

Beswick Co-operative Society was registered on 4 June 1892. Its central premises were at 30 Aston New Road, Manchester and its first branch was opened on 25 January 1894 at the corner of Mill Street and Carruthers Street in Ancoats, Manchester.  It traded in grocery, drapery, hardware, shoes and boots, butchering, furnishing, tailoring, coal, flour, baking and dressmaking. The society became a part of the Co-operative Retail Services in 1959.

The collection consists of annual returns (1899).

X42- Heckmondwike and District Co-operative Society

Heckmondwike and District Co-operative Society held its first meeting on 31 December 1859 and was registered in 1860.  The society opened its first shop around June 1860, its manager was James Lund of Rochdale. In 1887 its central premises were on Oak Street in Northgate and conducted trade in grocery, drapery, shoes and boots, furnishing, tailoring, coal, baking, millinery, dressmaking, and had a medical aid department. The society transferred its business to Yorkshire Co-operatives on 8 September 1985.

The collection consists of a cigarette and tobacco ledger (1962-1982).

X47- Receipts of the Hepworth Industrial Co-operative Society

Hepworth Industrial Co-operative Society was formed in 1840 with 67 members after 10 weeks. It first president was Jonas Charlesworth. It has 220 members by 1893 and traded in grocery, drapery, hardware, shoes and boots, earthenware, ironmongery and flour.By 1966 the society had 1,569 members. It traded in grocery, butchery, drapery and fashions and was involved in federal services with the Holmfirth Co-operative Boot and Shoe Society for footwear and footwear repairing. The society went into liquidation on 19 December 1967.

X49- Bolton Co-operative Society Employee Register

Bolton Co-operative Society was formed in 1859 along the principles of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society. In 1963 they became Bolton & District Co-operative Society and in 1970 the society merged to become Bolton & Wigan Co-operative Society. Following a series of transfer of engagements the society is now part of the Co-operative Group.

The collection consists of an employee register that lists the name of employee, date commenced work, birthday, date appointed Second Hand, date appointed Headshopman and other remarks.

X51- Papers of the Derby Co-operative Provident Society- Undertaking Department

The society was formed in 1850 and had its central premises on Albert Street. By 1887 it had 5,058 members and traded in grocery, drapery, shoes and boots, furnishing, butchery, tailoring, millinery, coal, flour and baking. By 1900 it had 37 branches. The society started to offer funeral services to members in 1926 with the commencement of their Funeral Furnishings Department.

The collection consists of coffin receipts.

X62- Rutherglen Old Co-operative Victualling Society

Rutherglen Old Co-operative Victualling Society appears to have operated out of a single shop for the duration of its existence selling goods to their members. It is unknown when the society commenced business. In 1849 the society wound up. The collection consists of a minute book that covers the period 1842-1849.

Society Histories

Co-operative societies have often celebrated events such as the opening of new premises and anniversaries by publishing histories. These vary from brief pamphlets to detailed histories that include photographs of the societies’ premises, staff and committees.

Some of the histories give lists of the society’s chief officers, presidents and directors that can be useful for family historians. Details of the commissioning of branch stores, libraries, dairies, halls and even Turkish baths can help those studying local history and particular subjects. National and local events are often discussed in society histories, for example, in mining areas societies were involved in support for families affected by pit disasters and many societies held celebrations for royal jubilees.

The Archive has a broad definition of ‘histories of societies’ the collection includes any material that provides information on a co-operative society. There are, among other items, books, pamphlets, periodicals, publicity leaflets, share books, newspaper reports and the brief descriptions published in the Congress Handbooks of societies in the area where Congress took place.

Co-operative Society Photographs

Over the years the National Co-operative Archive has received donations of photographs relating to various activities and premises of co-operative societies all over the country.

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