Greenfield Co-operative Society III.

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CHAPTER I.

THE FIRST EXPERIMENT


IN the summer of 1856 the first experiment in co-operative trading was made in Greenfield.  A small sum of money was subscribed with which were bought in bulk such goods as sugar, treacle, candles, and soap.  These were delivered at the Old Press Shop at Greenfield Mill and sold at retail prices to those who had shown an interest in the experiment.

    The experiment was so fruitful and beneficial in its results that meetings were afterwards held at Hey Top with the object of discussing the formation of a co-operative society in Greenfield.  The driving force behind all this was no doubt Mr. Joseph Wood in whose house the meetings were held.  The final result of these meetings was the formation of the Greenfield Industrial and Benevolent Co-operative Society Limited.  The date of its establishment was given as October 6th, 1856.

    The rules of the society were first certified on January 2nd, 1857, to be in conformity with law and with the provisions of the statute relating to Industrial and Provident Societies.  These rules were signed by Abraham Whitworth, Jonas Rushworth, and James Bottomley as members and Joseph Wood as secretary.  The address of the society was given as “Society’s Store, Greenfield, Saddleworth.”  The rules were later registered on November 25th, 1862, under the I. and P. Act of 1862 and in September, 1873, the name of the society was changed to the one now in use.

    At a meeting held on February 5th, 1857, by the newly registered society the following persons were elected as officials: Treasurer, Abraham Whitworth; Secretary, Joseph Wood; Three Trustees, Ralph Schofield, James Rushworth, and Thomas Swallow; Committeemen, James Schofield, Joseph Hall, James Wrigley, James Bottomley, Frances Bradbury, Daniel Worth, Robert Mellor, George Walton, and Edward Heap; Auditors, Jonathan Winterbottom and Abraham Whitworth; Arbitrators, John George Buckley, Samuel Wrigley Robert Schofield, Joseph Underwood, and James Heap.

    It is not stated who acted as chairman at this meeting but the minutes of subsequent meetings were signed by Jonathan Hirst, who was formally elected as chairman on April 20th, 1857.  No remuneration seems to have been paid to the committeemen until 1862, when it was resolved that they receive “3d. each per week for their services if in time.”

    One hundred years ago life for the people of Greenfield must have been rather grim and bleak.  Wages were paid monthly, a custom which would surely encourage going into debt.  Working hours were long and wages were low.  The wages of adult male workers at Greenfield Mill for a working week of 60 hours did not exceed 14s.  “Millers” were paid 17s. 6d. a week, which began at midnight on Sundays and ended on Saturday afternoons at 4 o’clock.  The only break allowed was for meals and two hours’ sleep at night.

    Such was the social and economic background of the formation, not only of our society, but of the many societies which were formed in various parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire.  It was not merely a matter of opening a shop for the purpose of buying and selling goods.  The objects of a co-operative society were wider and deeper than all that.

    The wage-earners wanted their wages to go further, they wanted a fairer deal; behind their minds lay the idea that through co-operation a juster and healthier social order could be created.  It was looked upon as an instrument of social change.  However dim that idea may be in the minds of the present generation of co-operators it is nevertheless true to say that the objects of the co-operative movement are to create a better social order.  Whenever the movement loses sight of this ideal it has lost its soul.

    The social purpose of co-operative societies is even expressed in the names under which they were originally registered.  The word “co-operative” does not appear in the Acts of Parliament which govern our operations but societies registered themselves as “Industrial,” “Benevolent,” “Friendly,” “Equitable,” “Provident,” thereby plainly stating their objects.

    The first shop was opened in February,1857, in a house at Piccadilly, near the King William Hotel.  The rent paid for the use of the house was 3s. 6d. per week.  It was open in the evenings only, from 7-30 to 10-30 p.m., but on Saturdays remained open until 11 p.m.  Members of the committee seemed to have worked in the shop.

    The committee exercised detailed control over the management of the store, decided what goods should be bought and the price at which they should be sold.  They selected the persons who should buy these goods and instructed them to take money with them to pay for the goods they bought.  These men went to Manchester, Oldham, Ashton, Rochdale, Marsden, and Huddersfield.

    The year 1858 seems to have been a year of doubt and misgiving.  The shopman proved unsatisfactory, and it was resolved that he “be turned away from the store.”  Stock was taken over and over again to make sure everything was all right.  So serious seems to have been the position that at the general meeting held on April 29th the question was considered whether to continue with the business or not.  There were 33 members present; 17 voted in favour of carrying on, two against, and the remaining 14 could not make up their minds what to do and remained neutral.  The decisive factor influencing the vote was no doubt the payment of a dividend of 10d. in the £ and the payment of 5 per cent interest on share capital.  In 1858 the first coal was sold at 5½d. per cwt.  The society also began its first system of transport by hiring a donkey at 5s. per week.

    In 1859 the shop was removed to the house at Spring Grove.  The shopman and his wife lived on the premises and gave up an unused bedroom for the purpose of storing some of the stock.  This year a dividend of 1s. 3d. in the £ was paid.

    A feeling of confidence and security must have prevailed in 1860 for it was decided that the time had come for the society to own its own shop.  Land was bought where the Central premises now stand and a shop and two houses were erected thereon.  This was a bold decision to take, for at this time the Society had only 136 members, the sales were less than £70 per week, and the capital available was only £1,561.  The gloom of two years ago had evidently been dissipated and one of hope and confidence had taken its place.

 

The Old Press Shop
where the first sales were made.


    The members had a robust faith in the work they had in hand and no doubt they would be surprised if they could know that 94 years later these premises would still be serving as the Central store.  The shop was eventually opened in 1862 as can still be seen on the sign over the archway.  It is interesting to note that the land was conveyed not to the society but to trustees.  A co-operative society could not at that time own property in its own name.  The original deed is still in our possession.  The dividend this year was 1s. 4½d. in the £.

    With the enrolment of the C.W.S. in August, 1863, occurred the most important and decisive event in the history of the British Co-operative Movement.  Business of the new society began in March, 1864.  In 1862 it was stated in the House of Commons that there were 150 societies in existence doing an annual trade of £1½ million.  Most of these societies were situated in Lancashire and Yorkshire.  Several attempts had been made in various parts of the country to establish a wholesale buying agency.

    In 1856 the Rochdale Society opened a wholesale department, but after suffering losses it was closed after three years.  Greenfield Society frequently bought goods from the Rochdale store and according to a minute made in May, 1858, became a member of it.  The first purchase was made in February, 1857, when Mr. George Winterbottom was authorised to go to Rochdale and take £15 with him and give them an order.

    By the passing of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act of 1862 permission was given to societies to form federal societies with the proviso that no society could invest more than £200 in such federations.  This limitation was removed by the amending Act of 1867.  Greenfield was soon aware of the advantages which would accrue from the establishment of a wholesale society, for on November 18th, 1863, it was resolved that the society take up 140 shares in The North of England Co-operative Wholesale Industrial and Provident Society Limited and that the society be represented at the first general meeting of the new society.

    It is pleasing to recall that in the first balance sheet of the C.W.S. the name of Greenfield appears among the list of 54 member societies.  Our trade for the six weeks’ period covered by the balance sheet amounted to £233 and our invested capital is shown as £7.  Our resolve to support the new society is indicated by a resolution passed at a special general meeting recommending the committee to make as many purchases as possible from the wholesale society.

    Progress continued to be made.  Drapery goods had been sold along with grocery and provisions; then one of the houses was used for this purpose and the second house was opened as a butchering department.

    In 1879 it was decided to build separate premises for these departments.  By the end of the year the present building, which comprises drapery and butchering and the hall, was completed.  The opening ceremony was attended by 500 persons.  The lower hall was used for several years as a grocery storeroom.  The halls have played a very important part in the social life of the village, having been used for the society’s own business purposes, by its educational department, for concerts, social evenings, lectures, bazaars, theatrical performances, and public meetings for all political parties.  Many famous men have spoken in these halls.

    In 1913 an important change in the law took place regarding the qualifications of auditors.  Up to this time a layman could be appointed auditor.  In Greenfield it had long been the custom to appoint the headmasters of the Schools in the district to act as auditors.  These men were held in high regard and esteem by the members and discharged their duties faithfully and honestly.  But considering the growth and expansion of the activities of the movement Parliament decided that the duties of auditor could only be carried out efficiently by men with the necessary qualifications.  Our society anticipated this change in the law and appointed in 1908 Messrs. Appleby and Wood as their first Public Auditors, these were succeeded in 1917 by Mr. (later Sir Thomas) Broderick of the C.W.S. Ltd.

 

Hey Top where the first meetings were held.


    There were no further developments on the trading side until 1914.  With the occupation of the new buildings the house used as a butcher’s shop reverted to a dwelling house.  The second house was used as an extension of the grocery shop.  Additions were made at the back for additional storage accommodation, and the slaughter-house and stables in the yard were rearranged.  The committee devoted much of their time to the building of dwelling-houses for the members but something will be said of these developments later on.


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CHAPTER II.

THE GOLDEN AGE


IN 1890 the average dividend rose to 3s. 0½d. in the £ and only on two occasions during the course of the next twenty years was it to fall below 3s. in the £.

    To some co-operators this period is looked back upon as the Golden Age of co-operation; to others, perhaps wiser people, it is looked back upon as a period of wasted and neglected opportunities.  Lower prices could have been charged for goods during this period or more could have been put to reserves.  The latter would have strengthened the financial position with the ultimate result of lowering operation costs.

    On July 21st, 1900, the society celebrated its Jubilee.  This was a great day for the people of Greenfield and a memorable one for the members of the society.  The streets were decorated with both streamers and flags.  Two bands were engaged — the Boarshurst Band and the Greenfield Reed Band.  One of the largest processions ever seen in the village marched from its meeting place, via Nook Steer, to Horsforth, then to Frenches and back to Road End where a halt was made and appropriate speeches were delivered.

    Among those taking part were some of the surviving founders of the Society.  One thousand six hundred people were provided with tea in two large marquees.  This was followed by sports and entertainment.  Each member was presented with a copy of the Jubilee History, written by Mr, David Lawton, secretary of the Society.

    The writer is very much indebted to this excellent book.  The cost of these celebrations was £229, of which £168 was taken from the reserve fund.

    In 1904 the Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd. introduced the Collective Life Assurance Scheme.  Under this scheme the lives of the members, their wives or their husbands, are insured at no direct cost to themselves.  On their decease a grant is payable, the amount of which depends entirely on the average amount of purchases which have been made by the member during the qualifying period.

    The benefits are at the rate of 5/- in the £ for a single person, widow or widower, maximum benefit £50.  At the rate of 4/- in the £ for a husband, maximum benefit £40, and at the rate of 2/- in the £ for a wife, maximum benefit £20.  Our society joined the scheme in 1909 and since that time has paid 1,233 claims amounting to £10,607.  Premiums paid by the society amount to £10,004.  The highest single claim paid by us is £50. 4s. 3d.

    This scheme has no doubt proved of great benefit to our members in helping them to meet the heavy expenses which inevitably arise on the decease of a member.  The idea of the promoters of the scheme was that by offering such benefits to co-operative members they would be encouraged to increase their purchases with their society.  It is doubtful however whether it ever had this effect and is still more doubtful now that the state pays a death grant.  Nevertheless it is still of great value to our members.

    Since 1904 the Co-operative Insurance Society has paid 2,517,771 claims amounting to £21,982,039.

    On May 10th, 1910, the resignation of the manager, Mr. Dan Holden, was accepted with great regret by the committee, and Mr. Frank Lees was appointed to take his place.  At a joint special meeting of the general and education committees an address was presented to Mr. Holden in recognition of the valuable services he had rendered to the society during his period of office covering 38 years.

    It recorded the fact that he took up the position in 1872 when the fortunes of the society were at their lowest ebb and by his untiring efforts he had greatly helped to make it the success it was.  The address also recorded their appreciation of the services he had rendered to the educational work of the society which began in 1892, and it wished him good health and a long life in his retirement.  The address was signed by the presidents and secretaries of the general committee and education committee respectively.

    In August, 1913, it was decided to purchase land at Oak View in order to erect a branch shop which would serve the members in the Horsforth area.

    The secretary of the society was invited to lay the right hand corner stone of the new branch.  This was done on Monday, April 20th, 1914.

    A suitable and appropriate speech was made by the president, Mr. George Booth, in inviting Mr. Lawton to lay the stone.  In reply Mr. Lawton thanked the committee for the honour they had conferred upon him and declared the stone duly laid.  Then the President presented him with a beautiful watch as a memento of the occasion.  On a fateful day in the history of mankind the shop was opened on Saturday, August 1st, 1914, for Germany had declared war against Russia, and the British Empire was to enter the war three days later.  Nevertheless, the opening ceremonies were duly carried out.  The two Greenfield bands were engaged.  There was a procession round the village.

    The only surviving pioneer of the society, Mr. James Wrigley, was invited to be present, and Mr. Henry Hudson presided at the actual opening ceremony.  Eight hundred and twenty samples of C.W.S. productions were ordered for free distribution among the members at a cost of 2s. each to the society.

    We were now at war and within one month the committee had decided to recommend to the members that prices of goods be reduced and a uniform dividend of 1s. in the £ be paid.

    This recommendation was turned down by the members at the general meeting held on October 5th.  The members had evidently a surer grasp of realities than the committee.  The society was still paying a 3s. dividend, the members were obviously well satisfied with leaving things as they were and perhaps one cannot blame them for disapproving of the recommendation.  At the same meeting £10 each was granted to the National Relief Fund, the Belgian Relief Fund, and the Local Fund.

    Prices of commodities were evidently causing concern to the committee for in June, 1915, they decided to send a letter to the Prime Minister and the local Member of Parliament protesting against the high prices of the ‘necessaries of life.’  Long before the Government saw the necessity of rationing many co-operative societies introduced some measure of control over the distribution of goods which were in short supply in order to ensure that the members had a fairer deal.

    The co-operative movement suffered many grievances during the war: goods were allocated on the basis of pre-war trade, this was obviously unfair as its trade and membership were continually growing.  It was also difficult to obtain exemption from military service for key men in its employment.  Our society frequently employed a solicitor to state our case before the Military Tribunals.  Then resentment was felt over the imposition of the Excess Profits Tax.  In addition, when controls were introduced the individuals appointed as controllers were usually men associated with vested interests and private trade.

    The result of all these grievances was the decision in 1917 that the movement should have direct representation in Parliament.  This was not a new or a novel idea to the members of our society for so long ago as 1898 a general meeting had approved the principle of parliamentary representation and in 1917 the proposal was again approved.

    At a committee meeting in October the secretary of the society, Mr. Lawton, was taken ill and he passed away in April, 1918.  He was the first full-time secretary and cashier and was appointed to this position in 1887.  He was at that time a member of the committee.  For 31 years, therefore, he served the society with great credit and distinction.  He was also for a number of years secretary of the Oldham District Co-operative Association.  He was appointed a Justice of the Peace which was at that time a rare honour for a working man,

    He was also author of our excellent Jubilee History.

    Appointed as his successor was Mr. Phillip Robinson, of Preston, who stayed with us for about three years and who later became, and still is, a director of the C.W.S. Ltd.

    Mr. Robinson was succeeded by Mr. W. G. Hobson, the author of this short history of the society, who has still the honour of holding the position.

    After the war ended developments on the trading side were made in rapid succession, fish and fruit, Frenches grocery, and milk delivery.  Evidently the famous phrase of making a land fit for heroes to live in had seized the imagination.

 

Piccadilly
our first shop


    A shop in Kinders Lane was bought in which the fish and fruit department was opened in 1919.  Within a very few years the trade had so much developed that it was found necessary in 1924 to double the size of the shop.

    In 1920 it was decided to open a branch at Frenches.  This addition has proved very useful and convenient for those members living in this area, and with the development of the housing estate at Carr Lane it should still prove more useful than ever.  In 1955 minor improvements were made to make the shop more attractive to our members.


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CHAPTER III.

CO-OPERATIVE SERVICES


AT the general meeting in April, 1921, the committee were instructed to go into the question of starting a milk delivery service.  It is interesting to note that already on this question the committee had asked the farmers’ association to send a deputation to meet them to discuss ways and means of establishing a co-operative milk delivery service.  Eight gentlemen came to see them, but nothing resulted from the meeting.

    However, in conformity with the instructions of the general meeting, the committee lost no time on the matter and the society entered the milk business forthwith.  For the first few years liquid milk was bought from the Congleton Depot of the C.W.S.  The milk was delivered over a wide area; we had customers residing in Uppermill and Diggle.  Later on supplies of pasteurised milk in bottles were obtained from, and delivered on our behalf by, the United Co-operative Dairies Ltd.  This system continued in operation until the outbreak of the second World War when, owing to the restriction in petrol supplies, we had to undertake delivery ourselves.

    In 1952 we became shareholding members of the Dairies and they are now entirely responsible for its delivery.

    The question of having a federal bakery in Saddleworth had been the subject of discussion for many years, with the object of the societies obtaining their supplies from their own bakery instead of drawing them from the Oldham Equitable Society.  At the animal meeting of members, held in January, 1920, the committee recommended that the formation of a joint bakery be considered, but the members did not approve of the suggestion.

    In August of the same year an inspection of the bakery at New Moston took place.  The question was again considered at the general meeting held in October, and this time the matter was left in the hands of the committee; the subject was again discussed at the general meeting held in January, 1921, but with no result.

    In 1924 a meeting of all the committees of the Saddleworth Societies was held in Uppermill to discuss a federal bakery.  The result of this meeting was that the Greenfield Society informed the joint committee, the conveners of the meeting, that they did not agree to a federal bakery but had decided to erect one of their own.  This decision was a great surprise and disappointment to the other societies.

    Fortunately we had land available adjoining our Frenches branch, and on this land a bakery and a confectioner’s shop were erected.  When one considers that our trade in bread and confectionery at this time only amounted to about £25 per week it was a risky business to undertake.  Nevertheless, it has so far proved a success and the action of the committee has been fully justified.  We are quite aware of the difficulties that may lie ahead and we know full well that nearly all the experts in the bakery trade assert that the days of the small bakery are over.

    It is interesting to note that so long ago as 1883 the committee convened a special meeting of members to consider the opening of a bakery department.  A bakery in those days would be a rarity.  Fortunately the members decisively turned the proposal down.  More than forty years were to pass before a bakery department was opened.

    In 1933 an important change in Income Tax Law was made which rendered co-operative societies liable to pay tax under Schedules C and D.  The Industrial and Provident Societies Act of 1862 had placed co-operative societies on a level with friendly societies by exempting them from income tax under these schedules.  They were, however, liable as owners and occupiers of property to pay under Schedules A and B and remained so until 1933 whether any profit was made or not.

    The contention of co-operators had always been that no profit in the true meaning of the word could be made by co-operative societies.  The distribution of “profit” as dividend on purchases to members could only be regarded as a deferred discount.  This view was upheld by the Royal Commission which reported on this question in 1920 and this Commission therefore stated that no case had been made out for a change in the law.

    After the election in 1931 of the Coalition Government a small and “independent” Commission was appointed to report on the matter.  The Commission consisted of only three persons and they recommended in favour of the taxation of co-operative societies, but recommended also that the dividend paid to members on their purchases should be exempt.  We are now liable to pay tax on any sums of money placed to reserves, but however much a society increases its reserves the value of any individual shareholding does not increase.  It always remains the same.  The effect of this tax has been that societies have been reluctant to increase their reserves.

    One of the most important events in the history of co-operation in Saddleworth took place in 1933, the amalgamation of the Grasscroft and Greenfield Societies.  Many co-operators are of the opinion that there are too many co-operative societies in the district, and the question of one society for the whole of Saddleworth is the ideal to be aimed at.  But apart from the formation of a joint committee of the societies no real effort was ever made to bring amalgamation about.

    At the general meeting of July, 1918, the committee gave notice that at the next general meeting the question of amalgamating with the Grasscroft Society would be considered, when this meeting was held it was announced that a letter had been received from the Grasscroft Society stating that they were not interested in the question.  So the subject was not discussed.

    At a committee meeting in April, 1920, it was noted that a deputation from the Grasscroft Society had been interviewed and it was resolved that a sub-committee be formed to go into the question of joining up with Grasscroft, the Greenfield committee being unanimously in favour of amalgamation.  The result of all this was that at the next general meeting of the society the president moved that steps be taken to effect amalgamation.  After much discussion the motion was defeated by 53 votes against 20.

    The next step taken in this matter was the receipt of at letter in the autumn of 1933 from the Co-operative Union Ltd. asking the board to meet two of their representatives.  They came on October 30th and asked us to meet the Grasscroft committee to consider the question of amalgamation.  The Grasscroft Society had written for advice on this matter.

    Several meetings of the two committees were held and they finally arrived at the unanimous decision to call a special general meeting at each society and put the necessary resolutions required by law to effect amalgamation.

    The special general meeting was held at Greenfield on November 28th, at which 171 members were present.  Much discussion followed, and finally Alderman Fred Houghton, representing the Co-operative Union, was given permission to speak, and he eloquently appealed to the members to give the resolutions their support.  The resolutions were then put and the results of the voting were: 131 votes for the resolutions and 40 votes against.  Thus the necessary three-fourths majority was obtained.

    It is really remarkable how speedily and smoothly all the formalities were carried out.  From our first meeting with Grasscroft to the final meeting of members less than eight weeks elapsed.  At the second special general meeting required by law the resolutions were formally adopted.

    The two societies became one as from December 20th, 1933, under the name of our society and under our rules, with the committee of the Greenfield Society continuing to carry on the business as before.

    Legally it was an amalgamation, but in fact and practice it was really one society taking over the affairs of the other.  In order to pay a final dividend the assets of the Grasscroft Society had to be written up in value to provide the amount required.  There is no doubt that the decision taken was a wise one.  The dividend paid to members continued to be the same as before and was not reduced until after the outbreak of the second world war.  Further, the amalgamation prevented another society from coming into the Greenfield area.

    The difficulties which inevitably arise in cases of this kind were speedily overcome and the necessary adjustments were soon made.  We inherited a rather unpleasant problem at Lydgate where two co-operative shops belonging to two different societies face each other.

 

Spring Grove, our second shop


    The situation arose in this way: In 1919 Grasscroft bought a plot of land at Lydgate on which our present branch stands with the intention of developing this area when the opportunity seemed most suitable.  As a result of a casual conversation between Grasscroft and the Mossley managers in the sale room of the C.W.S. the Mossley Society bought some property and immediately opened a branch.  Grasscroft then proceeded to open a shop of their own.

    The dispute was referred to arbitration and in September, 1929, the arbitrators were of the opinion that Grasscroft had established their claim to trade in this area providing they were agreeable to take over the commitments of the Mossley Society.  The latter society did not agree with the award of the arbitrators.

    The award was both fair and just.  This area had always been regarded from the earliest days as within Grasscroft’s sphere of influence.  From the very commencement of the society people living at Lydgate were enrolled as members.  Indeed at two meetings of members held in 1867 the “propriety,” as it was called, of opening a branch at Lydgate was discussed and considered.  The purchase of land immediately after the first world war in 1919 with a view to future development is further evidence that this district was regarded as their trading area.  A purchase which was well known by Mossley at the time.

    The proper course should have been for the two societies to have met to discuss the situation and exchange their views and intentions.  This would have been in accordance both with co-operative practice and common sense.  Instead of that Mossley Society confronted Grasscroft with a fait accompli.

    Thus the absurd situation continues, and it must be said that it reflects no credit to either side, and is quite contrary to the principles we both, as co-operators, are supposed to represent.


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CHAPTER IV.

WORLD WAR II


FOR the seven years before the outbreak of World War II the newly amalgamated society continued to maintain its position and during this period maintained a uniform dividend of 2/6 in the £, which in those days was considered a very good one and was considerably more than that paid by neighbouring societies.  Sales continued to rise and the increase in share and loan capital was extremely satisfactory.  This was one of the factors which enabled us to maintain the dividend.

    The war came and immediately after its commencement Mr. Frank Lees, the general manager, tendered his resignation of the position.  He began work with the society in October, 1894, and was appointed general manager in succession to Mr. Dan Holden in 1910.  In recognition of his valuable and conscientious service covering a period of 45 years the committee presented him with a gold watch.  During his period of service both the membership and the sales of the society had more than doubled.  He was succeeded by Mr. Ernest Baron, of Golcar, who still occupies the position.

    The last war brought all the stresses and strains which are now the accompaniment of modern war.  With the fall of France and the subsequent unfortunate turn of events in the military sphere stringent controls were introduced.  Rationing of commodities, fixed prices, and the points system.  All these were operated to the best of our ability, and it can be said that they worked fairly well.

    Difficulties of course, arose especially in the distribution of goods that were in short supply but not on the ration.  Registered customers were given preference for these goods, but in many cases our allocation was not sufficient to cover their requirements and on many occasions we had to hold them back until the next allocation arrived when a fairer distribution could be made.  The datum line for allocations to retailers was the amount of purchases made in 1939.

    Rationed goods were obtainable as a right but with non-rationed goods the retailer had to do as well and as fairly as he could.  We often resorted to a system of "Drawing" for goods in short supply and the members had just to trust to luck.  Looking back one can easily remember the queues at our shops, the people waiting for the goods to arrive, the queue often forming up before the shops were due to open.  The queue was a distinguished feature in war time Britain.

    We can look back with pride on our achievements during the war.  Prices and profit margins were fixed for us.  We had no control over the sources of supply.  Butter for example was simply called “Government Butter” irrespective of its source of origin.

    Critics before the war had often asserted that the dividend was put on the price of the goods.  Wartime experience however showed that a co-operative society could sell at the same price as its competitor and yet return a substantial sum to the member.  Our dividend never fell below 2/1 in the £ which really meant that a member was receiving free one week’s supplies in every ten weeks.  The total amount paid out by us as dividend during the war amounted to £42,526.

    Our chief difficulties however, arose from the staffing of our shops.  Seventeen of our employees were called up for National Service.  Fortunately they have all returned home safely.  One of them, Mr. S. Hill, was awarded the O.B.E. and another, Mr. W. Parr, was taken prisoner at Tobruk and spent a few years as a P.O.W. in Italy.

    Many and frequent were the changes in the staff.  Married women were engaged, mostly part time, and they had had very little experience of serving in shops.  In normal times shop keeping is a skilled occupation and requires a considerable amount of training.  Not so in war time.  There was not the time, and the work was made more arduous and complicated by the rationing system.  The correct coupons had to be cut out of the ration books and the correct price had to be charged.

    With few exceptions, the staff did their best for us and carried out their duties satisfactorily.

    Important steps have been taken to improve the conditions of employment of our employees.  In October, 1946, working hours were reduced from 48 hours per week to 44 hours for those engaged in the shops and for clerical workers the hours were reduced from 44 to 40 hours per week.  It is also a condition of employment that all employees should become a member of the appropriate Trades Union.

    All employees are also allowed 12 days’ annual holiday with pay when qualified and those employees with 20 years, or more service are granted an additional three days.  In operation is also an improved scheme for the payment of wages, less personal insurance benefits, for absence from work during sickness.  Fulfilling certain conditions, sickness pay may be paid for a continuous period of 26 weeks.

    More than 30 years ago the establishment of a superannuation scheme was considered but nothing came of it.  However, we joined in 1951 a federal scheme of the Huddersfield District and thus we are brought into line with most other co-operative societies.

    Before the World War II we bought three houses and a house and shop in Chew Valley Road.  The object of this purchase was that we could use the shop at some future date for expansion.  The opportunity came in 1948 when the shop became vacant and we opened it as a chemist department.

    A department of this kind is usually associated with larger societies due mainly to the high wages costs.  Only qualified persons are allowed to dispense medicines and there is a great demand for qualified pharmacists.  So far we have been extremely fortunate in being able to obtain the services of a qualified pharmacist and we believe our department is rendering a service to our members.

    In order to keep trade within the movement members were encouraged to make use of the inter-trading scheme which began in 1947 and continued for nearly two years.  Under this scheme members could purchase goods from another society and pay their own society for them.  This was superseded by a more flexible and convenient scheme known as the national membership scheme.

    This, in effect, gives the member purchasing rights in every society which has joined the scheme.  No formalities are required, each society has a code letter and all the member has to do when making a purchase at another society is to use his own membership number plus the code letter of his own society.

    He eventually receives from his own society the dividend on the amount of his purchase.  So far we have sold under this scheme to members of other societies goods to the value of £7,550, and our members have purchased goods from other societies to the value of £19,448.  By this method members have the feeling of belonging to the movement as a whole.  They are members of one family.

    One important post-war social reform took away from the society a service which it had rendered to its members for nearly 40 years; namely, National Health Insurance.  When the National Insurance Act was passed in 1911 the C.W.S. elected to become an Approved Society under it and we became at once one of their agents.

    This Act was well known because of the famous slogan “9d. for 4d.”  We had the responsibility of meeting the needs of members of the Approved Society.  We had several hundred members of both sexes when the Approved Societies were abolished.

    It is interesting to note that in 1911 a man had 4d. per week deducted from his wages and his employer paid 3d., a combined stamp of 7d.  The benefits were, of course, very limited in scope.  To-day a man has 6/9 deducted from his wages and his employer pays 6/-, a combined contribution of 12/9.  The benefits now cover a very wide field.

    An important change in the law took place in 1952 when societies were permitted to accept £500 instead of £200 in shares.  An increase in the amount a shareholder could hold had been advocated and pressed for very many years.  It is curious how long it takes to make a sensible change in the law.  The first Act of 1852 allowed £100 as the maximum shareholding, it was raised to £200 by the Act of 1862.  More than 90 years were to elapse before another change was made.  No consideration seems to have been given by the powers that be to the reduced purchasing power of the £.

    Another useful and welcome change was made in 1954 when a member was enabled to make a nomination up to the value of £200 instead of £100.  This was another example of the tardiness in recognising the need for change and improvement.  The Act of 1867 fixed the amount at £50 and this was raised to £100 by the Act of 1883.  Another 70 years were allowed to pass before another alteration took place.


――――♦――――

 

 

CHAPTER V

EDUCATION AND HOUSING


WHILE the co-operative movement has been mainly concerned with the selling of goods and also in producing them, other things of common concern have engaged its attention with the object of catering for the social needs of its members.  It has devoted very large sums of money for educational purposes, for the building of houses to let or for sale, in lending money to members to enable them to purchase their own houses, and in making donations and subscriptions for charitable purposes.  Our society has not been backward in any of these respects and has a creditable record to show in all of them.

    In the early years the movement took a far greater interest in education than the State; in many parts of the country societies set up reading rooms and had their public libraries long before the Local Authorities thought of doing so.  The writer can recall the time when the Mossley society provided a public reading room in each of the wards of the town and also ran a large lending library.  These have now been given up but the town is still without a public reading room.

    In 1892 our society amended its rules in order that it might devote some of its funds for educational purposes.  It is extremely interesting to scan through the pages of the “Wheatsheaf” of 50 or 60 years ago and learn what was done on these lines.  Classes were held in the following subjects — shorthand, book-keeping, gardening and horticulture, dressmaking, cookery, sick nursing, and science.  At one period the cookery class had 150 students.

    Fifty years ago the hall was very much used by the education committee in promoting concerts, social evenings, lectures, tea parties, and magic lantern displays.  First-class artists were engaged and distinguished lecturers appeared.  These events did show to those who were taking part in them that their social needs were being met and satisfied.  Our society had, for very many years, a public lending library and for a short time provided a reading room which had to be closed on account of rowdyism.

    In addition, efforts were made to keep the members in touch with the productive operations of the C.W.S. which were really of great value in fostering and maintaining an interest in the larger aspects of the movement.  Visits to factories were arranged; Middleton Jam Works, Crumpsall Biscuit Works, Irlam Soap Works, and Longsight Printing Works.  On some of these occasions not less than 250 persons took part.

    On another occasion, in conjunction with neighbouring societies, a special train was engaged to take members and their families to Bradford to visit an exhibition of co-operative productions.  The contingent from our society was more than 100 strong.  These visits must have been of considerable value to those taking part.  Nearly 20 years have passed since a visit to a productive factory was made.

    An excellent example of the use of funds for the common benefit of the members was the payment of donations and subscriptions to the various hospitals which served the district, such as Manchester, Ashton, Oldham, and Huddersfield, also the Devonshire Hospital at Buxton and the two C.W.S. Convalescent Homes at Roden and Scarborough.  By means of these subscriptions members in need could obtain recommends, free or at a nominal cost.  Our grants for education amount to £2,888 and the total of our charitable donations amount to £2,437.  Not a bad record for a small society.

    Before the first world war co-operators took a lively interest in the building of houses for their members.  Indeed it was regarded not only as their duty but as one of their objects.  This was provided for in the first rules of the Rochdale Pioneers.  Also in order to enable members to own their own houses societies opened up what afterwards became known as building departments whereby money could be advanced to members on mortgage security.

    Up to the outbreak of the war in 1914 our society was very actively engaged in building houses, and we can look back with pride on what was accomplished during this period as will be seen from the following.

    In 1876 a start was made with the erection of the 13 houses at Spring Grove.  Looking back, with the knowledge of the standards which are now required, the type of house chosen was not a happy one.  Back-to-back houses would not be allowed to-day.  If the amenities were few the rents were low ranging from 3/3 to 5/1 per week.  But in spite of the lack of amenities if any one of these houses becomes vacant there is always plenty of applicants for its tenancy.  They have never been known to stand empty for long.

 

Central Premises.  Erected in 1881 and soon to be modernised


    In 1888 the erection of the 13 houses at Spring Grove Terrace was begun.  Lessons had been learned from the previous experiment and they were of a much better type and it turned out to be a much more successful venture for all these houses were sold.  In 1899/1901 10 houses were put up at Berry Street.  These also showed a still greater improvement for in eight of them a bathroom was installed.  This venture was a success for they have all been sold.

    The most ambitious scheme of all was commenced in 1908 when the site on which the Garden Suburb houses now stand was purchased for £1,000.  Forty-six houses of various types were erected and the total cost to the society was in the region of £20,000.  Unlike the previous efforts these houses were built of brick instead of stone.  The rents fixed were comparatively low even in those times, varying from 4/4 to 7/4 per week.

    This scheme was at first a great strain on the financial resources of the society and for a time it had to work on a bank overdraft.  If the object of building these houses was to sell them to the members it was not a success, for to-day more than 40 years afterwards, we still own 19 of them.

    For many years after their completion in 1912 the society suffered very heavy losses at each accounting period.  This was partly due to the rising costs of maintenance and partly to the fact that the society as owners of the houses had to pay income tax on them at the full standard rate.  So serious were these losses that the committee decided in 1922 to offer to each tenant the house they occupied at cost price, but very few unfortunately, decided to accept this generous offer.

    No more houses were built by the society, nor is it ever likely that any more will be built by us.  House building at the present time is out of the range and the competence of a co-operative society.  It is a job which can only be undertaken successfully by Local Authorities with the help of government subsidies.  Only a very small proportion of the houses now being built is being done by the private builder.

    It is indeed very remarkable that a small society like ours should have been able to build 87 houses.  The first batch was erected when the society had only 400 members and its capital was only about £5,000.  The last batch of 40 houses was erected when the membership numbered only 726 and the capital available was only £21,000.  Obviously in those days both the committee and the members had unlimited confidence in the future and the durability of the society.

    For more than 60 years the society has always been willing to be of assistance to those members who desired to own their own houses.  The first mortgage advance appears to have been made about 1892.  Since then the sum of £74,289 has been advanced on mortgage security.  The two world wars did not interrupt this valuable service, indeed they stimulated it.  Since the end of the World War II we have advanced to members the sum of £18,240.  It is remarkable to note that in 64 years the society has only had to take possession in one case.

    It is questionable whether this service can any longer be continued in view of the high price of houses.  We have not the capital available nor is it desirable in times like these to invest money for periods up to 15 or 20 years.  This service can be much better rendered by the special organisations like the building societies which have been established for this very purpose.  Nevertheless this does not diminish the splendid services which this society has rendered to its members in the past.

    It may be appropriate at this point to mention the position of women in the co-operative movement.  Throughout its long history the movement has always treated men and women alike.  Membership has always been open to both sexes on equal terms.

    Many societies in the early days had a rule permitting only one member of a family, either husband or wife, to become a member.  Usually under this rule the husband took advantage of this, but there was no sex discrimination in the movement either by rule or practice.

    It is interesting to note that this society, according to the minute book, admitted Ann Bowker as a member in April, 1857, that is, within two months of opening the first shop.  The society has also had the distinction of having a woman as a member of the committee.  Mrs. Edith Thomas served on the committee for a period of 12 years.  Prior to coming to Greenfield she had the honour of being the first woman to serve on the committee of the Stockport Society.

    The Co-operative Women’s Guild was formed in 1883 and still plays an important part in many co-operative societies.  The names of many distinguished women engaged in co-operative and social service appear on the lists of presidents and secretaries of the Guild.  Two efforts have been made to form a Guild in Greenfield but one has to admit that it did not meet with the success it deserved.

    A great change is taking place in the membership of co-operative societies.  Formerly the majority of the members were men, but in recent years, as far as Greenfield is concerned, the number of women admitted to membership exceeds that of men.  No one can exactly say what this change portends.  Is it one of the reasons why there is so much apathy among the members?  That so few are sufficiently interested in the affairs of their society or in attending the business meetings?


――――♦――――

 

CHAPTER VI

THE STORY OF GRASSCROFT


ANY account of the Greenfield Society would be incomplete if no reference was made to the Grasscroft Society, which is now part of Greenfield Society.  For just over 75 years the Grasscroft Society served the interests and provided for the needs of its members quite as efficiently as any other society.  In our possession we have all the minute books of this society from its commencement until its end, and the writer has scanned through these minute books with considerable interest and pleasure.

    The first meeting in connection with this society was held on August 17th, 1858, when the following account of its proceedings was made:


“At a meeting held at the house of Eli Fielding in Grasscroft the following resolutions were agreed upon.

(1) That Eli Fielding, John Jessop, Benjamin Whitehead, Benjamin Buckley, John Shaw, Joseph Dawson, William Hawksworth, John Shaw junior, James Winterbottom, Samuel Farrand, Samuel Pilling form themselves into a committee or board of directors until a co-operative society is established in Grasscroft to be governed by laws and rules somewhat the same as the co-operative society, Lees.

(2) That Joseph Dawson serve as president, William Hawksworth, secretary, and Benjamin Buckley, treasurer.

(3) That we purchase one small memorandum book value sixpence.

(4) That Eli Fielding and Benjamin Buckley intercede with Master Thomas Wrigley of Lydgate about the house last occupied by Jackson’s.  In earnest of the above objects we, Benjamin Buckley, Eli Fielding, John Shaw, senior, and John Jessop deposit £1 each to treasurer.”


    At the next meeting a few days later three more came forward and deposited together the sum of £5. 2s.  This along with the £4 previously subscribed provided a capital of only £9. 2s.  With this small sum and the 6d. memorandum book above-mentioned, the society started its long career of usefulness and service.

    The first purchases were authorised on September 21st and consisted of 1 Tierce of No, 1 Crystals; 1 Puncheon Syrup; 1 box of Valentias; 1 cwt. of rice and 1 cwt. of currants; all from a firm in Liverpool.

    It was now necessary to lay down “The Rules of Attendance of Directors.”  Their office was to be no sinecure.  They were to meet at 7-30 p.m. every Monday evening in the society’s upper room at Grasscroft.  No fees were allowed, but if they were late they would be fined one penny, if they were absent without proper apology the fine was two-pence.  In 1861 it was decided that they would receive a fee of 2d. each night “for their labour.”  But the fines remained.  In 1897 the fees were increased from 6d. to 1/-.

    It was decided “to begin and end” on the last Monday in every third month commencing September 27th, 1858, and the first quarterly meeting was held on December 30th, 1858, when a dividend of 2s, in the £ was declared, a remarkable achievement.  No attempt was made for very many years to maintain a uniform rate of dividend.  What profit there was determined the rate.  It rose or fell each quarter; sometimes it fell to 1/4; in 1862 it was 2/4; in 1872 it was 2/6; and in 1877 it rose to 3/-.

    The amount a member might hold in shares was frequently changed, and it seemed to depend on the amount of capital the society had available at the time.  In 1861 the figure was fixed at £50, then reduced to £20 in 1863; in 1865 it was raised to £100, reduced again in 1883 to £80 and then in 1894 to £50.  A member was expected to purchase from the stores, for on one occasion a member who had £50 in his share account was discovered to make no purchases.  The secretary was instructed to write to him and tell him he must either make purchases or receive no interest on his shares.

    After seven years the results must have been so satisfactory as to justify the members in deciding in 1865 that the time had now arrived when they should build their own shop or premises.  It was resolved that a new store at the bottom of Carwell Meadow (now Mossley Road Branch) be built together with two cottages and a large room over the store.  Each member was asked to send word to the secretary within four weeks what amount he could find in shares over his present amount.

    The opening of the new Co-operative Hall took place on December 15th, 1866, and the following report was made for the occasion on the progress of the society to date.  It is given in full and it is written without any alteration in the spelling.  It is extremely interesting to read.


“The Society we are met here to represent is cald the Grasscroft Co-operative Society, this Society was born on the 23rd of September, 1858 there, ad enrolled themsels as members with a capital of £118.  So they had a good beging both in the number of members and capetal you will see from the above date that the society has lived over 8 Years and i may here remark that all that time it as had very good health, they did not start in ignarance as to the benefits of cooperation for they had most of them been members of a cooperative society at Lees, about 2½ miles distant over the hill and some of them had served on the board of manighment so they partley new how to go about their buisness they carred groceries and provisions all that distance to soport ther families so we may call them cooperators to the back bone.  Our trade for the first year was to the amount of £1,351, realising a net profet £107.  Our trade for the year ending September, 1866, is £5,136 with a net profet £589.  Our receipts during the 8 years have been £24791 yealding a net profet of £2564 which has been distributed as folows
 

Interest

£254

Dividend or Bonus on purchases

£2186

Reserved Fund

£85

Fixed Stock

   £39

 

£2564


Now if these profits had been divided on capital only they would have been equal to 55 per cent per annum.  Our present No. of members is 200 and our Share capital amounts to £1930 of that amount we have invested in this Building £1000 and in other co-operative Societies £200 so it leaves us about £800 to work the trade of the Society with so members will see that the money they have invested is not idle it has to be turned over about 6½ times in 12 months.  Our rules are so framed that the poorist may become members for by paying 1/- as entrance fee they are entitled to all the benefits of the society but they are expected to contribute 3/3 per quarter or one half penny per day Sunday excepted until they have got £1 in the funds of the Society for which they will receive interest at 5 per cent per annum.”


    The writer of this report, whoever he may have been, had evidently seen a great light.  He was a “co-operator to the back bone” and a fervent believer in the principles and the practice of co-operation.  To him it was not just a matter of shop-keeping, but was looked upon as an instrument of social change whereby the lives of ordinary men and women could be improved and their standard of life raised to a higher level.  He had a faith to live by and he was full of hope and confidence in the future.  If only a tithe of the members of co-operative societies in this generation had the same enthusiasm what a different movement it would be.

    He was not the only one in Grasscroft with this belief and confidence in the future of their small society, for immediately after the completion of the store they started looking round for further extension to their business.

    At two general meetings in 1867 they considered the propriety, as they called it, of opening up a branch at Lydgate.  At neither meeting was a decision arrived at and no further reference seems to have been made concerning it.  It is painful to recall that more than 60 years were to pass before they opened a branch at Lydgate, under circumstances much more unfavourable and unpleasant and which brought them in conflict with a neighbouring society.  The cordial and friendly relations which had prevailed between these two societies for so many years were severed and embittered.

    How different was a similar situation handled in 1887 when Grasscroft proposed to open a branch at Shadows Lane.  It is pleasant to read the wise and gracious letters which were exchanged between the two societies at that time.  They both referred to the cordial relations which had prevailed for so long and they both expressed the hope that such relations would continue.  In 1887 both societies thought first and then acted afterwards; in 1929 they acted first and thought about it afterwards.  In 1887 Grasscroft willingly dropped the proposal to trespass on another society’s territory.

    In 1876 it was decided to enter the butchering business.  At a special general meeting held on February 22nd it was resolved “to take premises newly built by Joel Byram if they can and if they cannot take these premises that they do as well as they can and they would have a stall near the stores.”  A few days later it was decided to take the said premises from Joel Byram at a rent of 9/11 per week.  They advertised for a butcher and if he were a married man he could have gas and rent free.  Mr. John Bottomley was appointed and he began the business by buying one cow and three sheep.  A separate dividend of 1/9 in the £ was paid.

    In 1877 it was decided to buy land adjoining their store and to build upon it four cottages, a stable, and a cart shed.

    The question of building a shop at Shaw Hall Bank Road seems to have been the subject of discussion spread over many years with fluctuating fortunes.  In 1889 several special meetings were held to discuss the question.  The first meeting held in August approved in principle.  At the second one held in November a resolution to build a shop was carried by a majority of three, and a building committee was actually formed to carry it into effect.  A third meeting was called in December and it was resolved not to build.  Seventy-four members attended this meeting; 39 voted against building and 35 in favour.

    At the general meeting in January, 1881, the board seems to have been congratulated on buying the five houses at Shaw Hall Bank and it was resolved to open a branch shop in their new houses.

    In 1887 the members left the question of entering the coal business to the committee and this was commenced this year.  It was decided to pay the same dividend on coal as on groceries.

    At this time the building of a shop at Shaw Hall Bank was again revived, and at a special meeting held in August it was decided to build a grocery, drapery, and butcher’s shop; 26 voted for and 21 against the proposal.  At the next meeting in October it was decided to postpone the question for six months.  At the April meeting in 1888 it was decided not to do anything for the present.

    Ten years later it was decided to call a special meeting, which was held on August 31st, 1898, and it was then decided to build a butcher’s shop, grocer’s shop, slaughter house and cottage.  The work was proceeded with this time, for in October the following year it was decided to have a tea party on its completion but no committeeman or assistant was to have a free ticket.

    The building was a large one and consisted of grocery, butchery, drapery, office, and boardroom.  At the time its size was out of all proportion to the trade, and for any trade in the foreseeable future.  More than half the building is now derelict, and the grocer’s shop, which is the only one now in use, is large enough to cope with a trade six times its present amount.

    With the completion of this building further developments in Grasscroft came to an end with the exception of the opening of a small shop at Lydgate, modernising the original shop at Grasscroft, and building two capacious garages at Shaw Hall Bank, capable of holding a fleet of motor vehicles, but now used for storing coal.

    In 1933 the amalgamation with the Greenfield Society took place.  So far as the minute book is concerned nothing whatever is recorded about the proposal.  It is recorded that in October a deputation from the Co-operative Union Ltd, came to interview the board to discuss the workings of the society for the past six months.  What the result of this interview was is not mentioned.

    The auditor came to the general meeting in October and assured the members of the financial soundness of the society and said if the members would increase their purchases a return to the normal rate of dividend could be made.  So far as the minute book is concerned there is nothing to indicate that amalgamation had been discussed, nor is there any reference to the fact that meetings had been held with the Greenfield Society.

    The first special meeting was held on November 28th, when 80 members were present; 69 voted for amalgamation and 11 against.  The second special meeting was held on December 14th to confirm the previous resolution.  Forty-five members were present; 43 voted for, one against, and one did not record a vote.  The last meeting of the committee was held later the same evening.

    Thus Grasscroft Society as an independent Society came to an end after 75 years of useful service to its members.  We ought to pay tribute and respect to all those persons who in the course of those 75 years gave the society their support and service.  It played an important part in the lives of its members, not only in supplying their needs as consumers but also in their social life as well.


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CHAPTER VII

A COMPARISON


IT may be worth while to compare the position our Society in 1956 with that of 1906 when the Jubilee was celebrated.  Let us look at the figures.  The figures for 1906 include those of the Grasscroft Society.
 

 

1906

1956

Membership

940

1,856

Sales 

£30,679

£119,298

Share Capital 

£20,168

£80,l07

No. of Grocery shops

3

6

No. of Employees

19

35

Wages paid

£1,252

£14,l62

Average dividend

3/-

1/-


    These figures do not show any spectacular progress.  It should, of course, be remembered that we are still a village society — and are likely to remain so, operating in a village which does not show any substantial increase in population.  To-day, as it was 50 years ago, our trade consists mainly of the sale of foodstuffs.  The population of our area is not large enough, nor have we sufficient members or capital resources which would justify the opening of new non-food departments.

    Many factors militate against the development of trade in the dry goods departments of a small society.  Modern transport, both private and public, has brought the neighbouring towns within easy reach.  The changed spending habits of the people, the family income is much larger than ever before, but the proportion of this income spent on food is much smaller.  As a result of this a good margin of the family income is available to be spent on other things than food.  One has only to think of the money now spent on such things as motoring, radio, television, holidays, entertainment, sport and even on gambling.

    People are much better dressed than they were 50 years ago and they are more fastidious in the choice of the clothes they wear.  They flock to the towns, where a greater choice is offered by the popular emporia.  In order to keep this trade in the movement arrangements are in operation whereby members may purchase their supplies at the larger societies just as if they were members of those societies.  This system is called the National Membership Scheme which could — and should — be more fully made use of.

    It is the opinion of many leading co-operators that the day of the small society is over.  The small society will not be able in the near future to meet the modern methods of competitive trading.  They have not the resources or the initiative to modernise their shops and adopt up-to-date methods of retailing.  Nor can they offer their members more than a limited range of services.  There is much force in all these arguments, and they will probably be reinforced by the report of the Independent Committee of Inquiry when that is published.

    However that may be, we believe that the Greenfield Society has been of inestimable value to its members during the past century both socially and economically and in spite of the revolution in the methods of modern retailing, there is no reason why for many years to come it should not be of the same service.  The society enjoys the confidence of its members, it is financially sound, and is quite capable of supplying the basic needs of its members quite as well as any other retailer.  Further, the surplus of our operations continues to be returned to the members in proportion to their purchases.

    Let us now glance at the retail movement as a whole.
 

 

1906

1955

No. of Societies

15,916

964

No. of Members

2¼ millions

112 millions

Sales

£98 millions

£842 millions

No. of Employees

108,415

280,109


    These figures show the astonishing progress which has been made during the past half century.  One society has now more than one million members, and 11 societies have more than 100,000 members each.  Our share in the above figures is, of course, infinitesimal, but we are nevertheless proud to belong to an organisation which can show such results.

    The retail co-operative movement is the greatest organisation of its kind in the world, the greatest chain store in the world, possessing more than 27,000 fixed shops of which number more than 20,000 are food shops.  The co-operative movement, through its huge federal societies, deals with a greater variety of goods and services than any other organisation, including banking and insurance.

    Its defects, shortcomings and weaknesses are many and manifest and are frequently the subject of discussion at conferences and meetings both of boards of management and officials.  So much alive are we to these matters a special independent committee of inquiry has been set up to examine and report on every aspect of the movement.  The results of this inquiry should be extremely valuable.

    It would be both foolish and unwise to speculate on the future.  Modern Governments are more powerful than ever before, and they are taking a much greater interest in the social and economic life of the people they govern.  The results of scientific investigation and the use to which they are put is overwhelming and awe-inspiring.  If unwisely used they may easily lead to our annihilation, but if wisely used they could inaugurate an era of happiness and comfort for mankind beyond our wildest dreams,

    The alternatives before us are that we must die together or live together, and the only way we can live together is by co-operating one with another and rendering each other mutual aid.  “All for each and each for all.”


――――♦――――

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

LOOKING BACK

FROM THE OLD MINUTE BOOKS OF
G
REENFIELDS
 
1857 —

That Trust Tobacco be sold at 3d. per oz.

 

James Wrigley & Jonathan Winterbottom

 

sleep in the store.

 

The Tobacco be sold for what it will fetch,

 

the salesman to do what he can for the store.

 

The hours of opening and closing the store

 

be as follows, that it is opened at 9 OC in

 

the morning to 2 Oc at noon and from 3 OC

 

in the afternoon til 9 OC in the evening

 

except on Saturdays till 11 Oc at night.

 

The best Twill Sheets be sold at 3/6 per couple.

 

The coals be sold at 5½d. per cwt at the store.

   
1858 —

A majority of 17 to 2 are for the store to be

 

carried on as usual—14 neutral.

   
1859 —

We send for 6 firkins of butter to Tiperary.

   
1860 —

We send for 20,000 cups to Birmingham.

 

The shop be closed every Tuesday at 2 OC

 

beginning Aug 6th 1860.

   
1862 —

As many as can make it convenient to remove

 

the goods from the old shop to the

 

new shop to be here at 2 OC on Tuesday

 

next the 6th day of May 1862.

 

The shopman buys a New Coffee Mill if he

 

can please himself.

 

The members of the committee receive 3d

 

per week for their services if in time.

   
1863 —

The Balance Sheet pass just as it is.

 

The shop is open at 7 OC in the morning.

 

We take up 140 Shares in the North of Eng-

 

land Cooperative Wholesale Industrial &

 

Provident Society Limited (now CWS).

   
1864 —

A well be sunk in the back yard.

   
1867 —

We buy no more gunpowder or blasting

 

powder after this time.

 

That Thos Bradbury & Wm Buckley endeavour

 

to buy the Ass of John Winterbottom or

 

its owner at Fern Lea.

 

Jas Hirst receive the sum of 1/9 per week

 

for the keep of the Donkey, winter & summer.

 

 

1868 —

Any committeeman not being at his post at

 

8 OC be fined 2d for each offence.

   
1869 —

The donkey be sold for 25/-.

   
1870 —

G. F. Ramsden has a Fish Stall in, under

 

the arch, at the Co-operative Building

 

during the winter season.

   
1876 —

The Stores be closed on Tuesdays at 12 OC

 

to commence 18 April 1876.

 

We open a Banking Account with the Co-

 

operative Wholesale Society Ltd Balloon

 

Street Manchester

   
1879 —

—— be expelled from the Society for

 

a misdemeanour.

   
1882 —

The Oddfellows of Welcome Return Lodge

 

have use of the Reading Room for their

 

meetings for the sum of £2 per year, Gas

 

and fire to be included in this sum.

   
1883 —

We be members of the Oldham District

 

Conference Association.

 

No Bakery be established in connection

 

with our Society.

 

No dogs be admitted in the shop.

   
1884 —

The Book Check System be adopted to commence

 

the 28 March 1885.

   
1886 —

All employees of this society receive one

 

week’s wage when sick, if sickness continues

 

for any further time than one week

 

no wage allowed after first week, until

 

commencing work again.

 

Voting in future be done by centumgraph

 

stamped papers at election of Committee.

   
1888 —

All employees be allowed two days holidays

 

per annum the above in addition to the

 

usual holidays when stores are closed.

 

The half sovereign found by the secretary

 

in the old box upstairs be expended on

 

stamps for society’s use.

   
1889 —

That there be iron ties uniting the feet of the

 

roof in the Hall.

   
1892 —

The question of subscribing to the Public

 

Bath’s Fund be postponed indefinitely.

   
1896 —

The petition in favour of Pure Beer be

 

signed & forwarded to County Member.

 

We give the sum of £5 towards the erection

 

of a bridge over the river at Andrew Mill.

 

We subscribe the sum of £5 to the Public

 

Bath’s Fund.

   
1897 —

In future all employees of this society have

 

one week’s holiday granted them per

 

annum in addition to usual stopages.


――――♦――――


FROM THE OLD MINUTE BOOKS OF
G
RASSCROFT SOCIETY
[Ed.― the spelling is at it appears]
 

1858—

That we purchase one small memorandum book

 

value sixpence.

 

Eli Fielding and Benjamin Buckley interceed

 

with Master Thomas Wrigley of Lydgate

 

about house last occupied by Jackson’s.

 

The Directors meet at ½ past 7 oclock with

 

a fine of one penny if too late and twopence

 

for non-attendance.

 

We begin and end on the last Monday in

 

every third month commencing September

 

27th, 1858.

 

We purchase two jackets and aprons each

 

for the shopmen.

 

John Mills purchase one pig at 55d. per lb.

 

Accounts be passed as corrected this

 

quarter.

   

1859—

Benjamin Buckley attends a sale at Greenfield

 

to purchase Weights and Weighs,

 

large and small, if he can get them cheap.

 

A Committee of 5 Directors to read and

 

make Laws to govern the Society.

   

1860—

We try two new shopmen for the next Quarter.

 

We have gas fitted up in the shop.

 

That we give the present shopmen notice given

 

to them for to leave off as the shopmen of

 

the store on Saturday next.

 

We give to the letter carriers 3/- as a gift.

   

1861—

The Committee shall henceforth be paid the

 

sum of two-pence per night for their labour,

 

that in case they are not here when their

 

names are called they shall be lined 2d,

 

except a sufficient apology be given according

 

to Rule.

 

We have a tea party on Saturday April

 

16th, 6d each admission, after tea 3d.

 

The Trustees shall be paid the same wage

 

as a Committeeman but not be fined if

 

absent.

   

1863—

The shop shall be closed tomorrow the 10th

 

instant for the Prince of Wales’ marriage

 

celebrations.

 

We order a seal with the words ‘Grasscroft

 

Industrial Cooperative Society Ltd.’

 

We sell butter at 11d. per lb.

   

1864—

Each Auditor has 2/6 each.

   

1865—

Whe build a new store at the bottom of Carwell

 

Meadow together with 2 cottages, that

 

we have a large room over the store, that

 

each member send our secretary word

 

within 4 weeks what amount he find in

 

Sheares over is present account.

 

We open an account with the Saddleworth

 

Banking Company.

 

Our Share Capital be limited to £100 each

 

member.

 

This store be opened on Tuesdays at ½ past

 

7 oclock in the morning and closed at

 

2 oclock for the day.

   

1866—

We become members of the North of England

 

Wholesale Society and that we

 

deposit £37 10 0 in the Society.

 

We buy a safe.

 

Our shop lad has 10d per week from now

 

and that he stops in the shop every night

 

in the week until it closes.

 

John Jessop goes to Meltham Mills to see

 

a gass apratos.

 

That they let the large room as often and for as

 

much as they can per night until the next

 

Quarterly meeting but on no one night for

 

less than 2/6.

   

1871—

Laws to be observed in lending the hand

 

cart.

 

It be lent out to members or non-members

 

for any purpose at 3 pence per hour but to

 

pay all breakage or damage done to the

 

hand cart.

 

The stores closes at half past one oclock on

 

Tuesdays and at 6 oclock on Saturdays.

   

1877—

Our horse and cart carries out goods to our

 

members on Fryday after noon and Satderday

 

fore noon.

   

1880—

We do not entertain the idea of building a

 

Branch Store at Roches as we consider it

 

out of our locality.

   

1881—

A Bank Account be opened with the Wholesale

 

Society the Committee send a deputation

 

to the neighbouring stores to discuss

 

the advisability of reducing Share Capital.

 

We put a Bill in shop that subscriptions will

 

be received towards a purse of gold for our

 

late secretary.

   

1888—

We have a new barrow at Butchering

 

Department for the use of members for

 

housing their coals and if it is used for

 

other purposes a charge of 2d will be

   

 

charged for each journey.

1891—

We charge 4/- per day for our horse going

 

to Dintin with the ringers.


――――♦――――


IMPORTANT DATES IN THE HISTORY OF
THE SOCIETY

1852

First Industrial & Provident Societies Act Share

 

Holding £100.

1856

Greenfield Industrial & Benevolent Co-operative

 

Society Ltd. Established.

1857

Greenfield Industrial & Benevolent Co-operative

 

Society Ltd. Registered.

 

First Shop at Piccadilly Opened. Rent 3/6 per

 

week.

1858

The Grasscroft Co-operative Society Ltd.

 

established.

1859

Second Shop opened at Spring Grove.

1860

Tuesday Half-Day Holiday commenced.

 

New Industrial & Provident Societies Act. Share

 

Holding £200.

 

Present Central Grocery Premises Opened.

1863

North of England Co-operative Wholesale Society

 

Ltd. Established. Later C.W.S.

1864

No. of Committeemen reduced from 9 to 8.

 

New Rules.

1866

Butchering Department opened.

1868

Coal Department opened.

1873

New Rules.

 

Penny Bank Department opened.

 

Name changed to The Greenfield Co-operative

 

Society Ltd.

1876

New Industrial & Provident Societies Act.

 

13 Cottages at Spring Grove built.

1878

Account opened with the C.W.S. Bank.

 

Drapery, Butchering, Hall and Reading Room.

 

(Reading Room closed in 1882).

1883

Nomination Act. Limited to £100.

1885

Book Check System adopted.

1888-92

12 Cottages at Spring Grove Terrace, built.

1889

The Co-operative Union Ltd. registered.

1892

Loan Department opened.

1893

Industrial & Provident Societies Acts co11solidated.

1897

3 Houses at Brookfield Terrace purchased.

1899-1901

16 Houses at Berry Street built.

1904

Rules amended to allow members to hold £200

 

in Shares.

1906

Society’s Jubilee Celebrated. 21 July.

1908-12

46 Houses in Garden Suburb built.

1909

Collective Life Assurance Scheme adopted.

1911

2 Houses at Andrew Mill purchased.

1913

Industrial & Provident Societies Act. Public

 

Auditors Compulsory.

1914

Oak View Grocery Opened.

1916

Model Rules adopted with own amendments.

1918

Fish & Fruit Department opened. Enlarged 1924.

1920

Frenches Branch opened.

1921

Milk Department opened.

 

Climax Check System adopted.

 

Butcher’s Shop in Wooden Hut at Oak View

 

opened (closed in 1924).

1922

First Half-Year1y Balance Sheet published.

1925

Bakery and Confectionery Departments opened.

1933

Amalgamation of Grasscroft and Greenheld Co-

 

operative Societies.

1936

6 Houses at Armit Road purchased.

1937

4 Houses with shop in Chew Valley Road pur-

 

chased.

 

Butcher’s Shop at Grasscroft closed.

1938

New Shop at Iiydgate erected.

1941

Shaw Hall Bank Drapery Department closed.

1948

Chemist Shop Opened on Chew Valley Road.

1951

Employees’ Superannuation Scheme began.

1952

New Industrial & Provident Societies Act.

 

Shareholding £500.

1954

Milk Delivery transferred to the United Co-

 

operative Dairies Ltd.

 

New Industrial & Provident Societies Act.

 

Nomination Limit £200.


――――♦――――

CHAIRMEN AND PRESIDENTS
 

Jonathon Hirst

1857

James Bottomley

1857

Joseph Wood

1858

Char1es Bradbury

1860

James Walker

1862

John Bradbury Lees

1862

William Robinson

1862

William Buckley

1863

        ,,             ,, 2nd term

1870

Isaac Smith

1863

Edwin Lawton

1864

James Byram

1864

      ,,        ,, 2nd term

1877

Absolam Matthews

1867

N. A. Booth

1867

Thomas Bradbury

1868

        ,,             ,,    2nd term

1875

Ralph Hawkyard

1870

Charles Bottomley

1870

George Butterworth

1872

William Lees

1883

John Thomas Bradbury

1887

James E. Shaw

1908

George Booth

1911

Henry Hudson

1920

Thomas Potter

1925

Amos Wood

1933

Harry Hanson

1941

Amos Wood 2nd term

1946

Sidney Smith

1952


――――♦――――


SECRETARIES
 

Joseph Wood and Thomas Platt

1856-65

Josiah Hobson

1866

James Schofield (one month)

1870

Jonathon Winterbottom

1870

N. A. Booth

1879

David Lawton*

1887

Phillip Robinson

1918

William Gilbert Hobson

1921

*First full-time Secretary.


――――♦――――


SALESMEN AND MANAGERS
 

Joseph Hall

1857-58

James Bottomley

,,

Samuel Wild

,,

James Schofield

1858

Dan Holden*

1872

Frank Lees

1910

Ernest Baron

1939

*First General Manager.











 

 



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