Leeds Co-op Jubilee
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PREFACE.


THE purpose of this book is to celebrate the Jubilee of the Leeds Industrial Co-operative Society, and to set forth, for the encouragement of others, how a few working men, with no resources save good sense and good determination, founded the greatest co-operative store in the world.  This is a large thing to say, but it is statistically true.  To others who joined the originators, or have been their successors in carrying the movement forward, high credit is due.  All who have organised, year by year, down to this day, the surprising operations which have obtained such notable success are equally entitled to the repute which belongs to the great enterprise.

    The Directors have done me the honour to ask me to write this Jubilee History, from 1847 to 1897.  A story which shall satisfy the views of 37,000 members (the number actually upon the books) is an adventurous undertaking.  However much interest the subject has for me, I should hesitate to attempt it, did I not know the abiding tolerance of co-operative judgment.  The Directors have prescribed no course, nor have they imposed any conditions, or qualification of opinion to be expressed; therefore, not they, but the writer alone, is responsible for what is said.  Where the ideas of many have to be taken into account, my rule is not to consider what I am expected to say, but what ought to be said, as facts appear to warrant, and the wide interest of the members and co-operative principle require.

    Lancashire men are regarded as possessing solid vigour, as the rise of the Rochdale Pioneers has shown; but the men of Yorkshire are accounted the most adroit and impassable of the English race.  But the greater the capacity the greater the good sense, and upon that I rely.

    The attention I have had to give to the records of the Society has given me a new conception of the character, merits, and example of the Leeds Pioneers, who have not been estimated as they deserve.  Their incessant efforts to make clear to the working class that co-operation meant something higher than mere commercialism; their splendid endeavours to warm the frozen heart of ignorant selfishness, as cold and obstructive as the ponderous icebergs Nansen encountered on his heroic and perilous way—have never been exceeded, and never equalled in their continuity.  Met by the charge of being "sentimental"—a term silly people use to disparage what they do not understand, or do not want—the leaders of the Leeds Society never despaired and never desisted.  They have always regarded intelligence as a sound investment, and have often advocated profit-sharing as an integral part of co-operation, as a self-acting store movement.

    I knew co-operation when it was born.  I stood by its cradle.  In every journal, newspaper, and review with which I was connected, I defended it in its infancy, when no one thought it would live.  For years I was its sole friend and representative in the press.  I have lived to see it grow to robust and self-supporting manhood.  To me it is no mean pleasure that the last co-operative work I am likely to write, is the history of the triumphs of the Leeds Society.

    As it becomes more widely known by its Jubilee History, its remarkable distinction will be acknowledged.  It stands next to Rochdale as the foremost English co-operative association, and surpasses it in its valiant conflicts, its organisation, its marvellous gains, and vast army of members who gather around its standard-bearers.


G. J. H.



CONTENTS.
――♦――

CHAPTER I.
Before the Society Began.

CHAPTER II.
Origin of the Society (1847)

CHAPTER III.
The First Committee of Organisation (1847)

CHAPTER IV.
The Wonderful Rules (1847)

CHAPTER V.
The First Directors (1847)

CHAPTER VI.
The Fifty-Eight Pioneers of Leeds (1847)

CHAPTER VII.
HISTORICAL CHRONICLE YEAR BY YEAR.

1847.
A Novel Plan of Distribution—Co-operators in a Minority.

1848.
Trenchant Resolutions—A Forty Weeks' Levy—No Power to Buy Land—A Timely Discovery—Deadly Adulteration—Dr. Charlie's Courage—The Peril of Cheap Selling—Co-operative Stores a Public Necessity.

1849.
The Double Share Rule Rescinded—The First Accident—A Friendly Miller—Bankers' Confidence—Golden Words of Counsel.

1850.
Contentiousness Creeping About—The Ideas which incite It.

1851.
"Something Wrong"—Democratic Duty in Complaint—Co-operative Qualities—Irreconcilables Reconciled by a Real Audit—Mr. Plint's Masterly Examination—His Wise and Bold Counsel.

1852.
A Remarkable Audit—The Trouble of Purity—Disadvantage of Cheapness—Dividends should be Palpable—Concealed Profits—Remunerative Prices Adopted—Care in Terms Good Policy—The Old Man and his Three Stones of Flour.

1853.
Remunerative Prices Produce Profit and Content—Principle at any Price—The Field of Co-operation Enlarged—Mr. Gaunt's Repartees—Directors Risk Misjudgment—Utopianism comes True—Appearance of the People's Mill—Mr. Bovill's Bill—Stationary Men and Forward Men—Wild Democrats at Large.

1854.
Violence, Want of Skill—Cat's Paw Agents—Mr. Gaunt Holds the Floor—The Crimean War Reaches to the Leeds Mill—Advice to go Outside the Movement Taken—Dribbling.

1855.
A Tame Year—An Anti-Adulteration Society —Lloyd Jones's Far-Seeing Proposal.

1856.
Dangers of Premature Experiments—A Store Resolved Upon—Co-operative Maxims—Complaints Taken by the Throat—An Investigation Committee—The Accusations Disproved—A Transformation Scene—Directors Dismissed—The New Directors Follow the same Policy for which their Predecessors were Removed—The First Shop Opened in Briggate—A Fighting Year—A Trustee comes to the Front—John Holmes takes the Floor—The Parliamentary Inquiry—Mr. Emerson's Cogent Evidence.

1857.
Frogs About—Organisation of the Agents—A Penitent Agent—Conspiracy of Agents—The Briggate Store Languishes—Victory of Ignorance—The Briggate Store Dies—A Great Temptation—Another Vindicatory Audit.

1858.
An Amazing Announcement—Plato's Republic Terrifies the Wise Men of Leeds—Sir Edward Baines on the Parallelogram—Political Economy Opposed to Co-operation—Rochdale Visited—The Agents Superseded—A new "Fangle" Pays better than the old Fangle—Mr. Prentis's Services.

1859.
The Ovens of Discontent—Revolutions of Progress—The Worker his Own Helper—Members for the First Time Suggest a New Department—Trustees Counsel Participation in Profit—Cheapness Means Low Dividends.

1860.
The Pamphlet of an Enthusiast—A Rival Corn Mill—The Trustees' Report—The Warehouse over the Stables—Storekeepers' Share in Profits—Co-operators Against Retreating before Surmountable Obstacles—A Servant causes a Division—Letters to the "Express."

1861
Survival of the Fittest in Co-operation—The Meat Selling Difficulty—In Search of Prosperity in Vacant Places and Street Corners—Garibaldi Funds Recovered.

1862.
The "Fangle" Terror Over—A Tealess Tea—A Women's Guild Wanted—The Hospitality of Co-operation—Drapery Droops—Generous Sympathy with the American Cause.

1863.
Smooth Water—The Clothing Ship Becalmed—Members Determine to Keep it at Sea.

1864.
An Irritating Item—Intricacies of Trusteeship—The Device of Free Ticket Meetings—Withdrawals from Necessity and Ill-Will—Offers of Capital by Members—A New Wonder comes to Sight—Profit-Sharing Recognised.

1865.
Beneficial Absentees—New Name for a Ferocious Department—Prof. F. W. Newman's Argument—An Incredible Class of Purchasers—A Former Device Retried.

1866.
Queen Elizabeth's Sagacity—Thought for Servants—The First Flood—Benefit of a Reserve Fund.

1867.
Discontent Divine and Different—Coal Trade Begun—Flour the Staple of the Society's Life—Test Ordered—Disembodied Agents Walk Abroad—Why Stores Lagged Behind the Mill.

1868.
Manager Dismissed—Storm Drums Run Up—A Cyclone nearly Blows the Society Over—The Directors in a Maelstrom.

1869.
General Manager Proposed—Money Abounds—Large Forfeits—Sixteen Buyers at large in the Markets—The Directors have a Plan—The Coal Plant Bought—Credit Tried—Exploded, but not Killed.

1870.
No Independence with Debt—Associative Conferences—Advantages of a Buying Society—An End of Bovill.

1871.
Growth All Round—Stores too Small—Customers Wait for Hours to be Served—More Powerful Machines Ordered—Increase in Turnover and Profits—Shorter Hours Conceded to Mill Hands.

1872.
An Honourable Vote—Singular Education Contest—Vocal Worms Crawl Out—Eloquent Figures—A Prophecy comes True deemed a sign of Insanity when made.

1873.
A Year of Principle—Stores Arise Around—Ready-Made Clothing Begun—Boot Manufacture Commenced—Storekeepers Accorded Profits—Support given to Co-operative Workshops—Large Grants—House Building for Members—Producers more Meritorious than Consumers—A Consistent Co-operative Resolution — Striking Report of the Educational Committee —"Leeds Mercury" Office Bought—Financial Progress.

1874.
Prosperity and Speculation—Demonstrations Tell—A Memorable Opening—A Splendid Procession—Notable Speakers at Night—Increase in Members and Profits—The Tallerman Resolution—Amazing Investment in the Tipton Green Colliery—£19,000 Lost—The Morley Colliery a Candidate for Surplus Money—A Prudent Amendment—A Convalescent Home Proposed—The Credit Snake still Crawling About—A Further Education Vote—Mr. Fawcett becomes Cashier.

1875.
New Orleans Company Floaters come Leeds way—Profit-Sharing Suspended—The Mill Enlarged Again—More Land Bought—Fifty-one Cottages Built—Carlton Hill Estate Bought—The Convalescent Home "Inopportune"—The Lion Estate under Consideration.

1876.
Dolour in all the Stores—Directors Check the Panic but not the Weeping—The philosophy of Investment—Another Education Tumult—The Mistake that Ignorance is Harmless—Increase of Stores, Houses, and Land—Handsome Consideration for Distressed Members—New Machinery Costs £4,000—Official Shyness of the Meat Trade —Directors Better Paid—A General Store Visitor Appointed—His Multitudinous Duties.

1877.
Another Educational Battle—Ignorance Wins—More Stores Opened—Flour Mill Machinery again Increased —Its Producing Power Doubled.

1878.
Further Battle for Education—The Propagandists Defeated—An Indignant Night—A Sagacious Motion—Thieves Discovered—Generosity of the Society at Home and Abroad—Barebone Reports—Growth all Along the Line—Foundation of an Annual Holliday.

1879.
Generosity a Form of Progress—List of Grants to Charities—A Bakery Springs Up in a Night—Its Previous Tardiness—The Prudence of taking in the "Co-operative News"—Non-buying Members Disappear—A Wise Device—Death of a Valued President—The Business of the Society Running on Castors.

1880.
Services of Directors Recognised—Congress invited to Leeds—A Library and Newsroom Established—Mr. Fawcett Appointed Secretary and Cashier—A Board Clerk Elected—Another Asperser Extinguished by Facts—The Composition of Pure Butter—Meat Selling still "Inopportune"—The Great Snow Night—Loss of Two Leaders—The Society still Growing.

1881.
The Great Conflagration—Costly Eccentricity of the Town Brigade—Singular Origin of the Fire—The Process of Flour Making—An "undesirable" Motion —Building at Carlton Hill—Report in Favour of the Wholesale—A Full Dress Debate—An Amalgamated Manager—Forged Checks—The New Bakery Opened—An Inundation of Money—Co-operative Watches—The Thirteenth Co-operative Parliament Meet in Leeds—Testimony of a Member of Congress.

1882.
The Monthly Record—Idle Capital in an Active Store—Profitable Suggestiveness—Drapery and Clothing Clubs Devised—Rapidity of Restoration—Friendly Millers—A Splendid Procession—Career of a Drayman—Effect of the Demonstration—Participation with Industry Still in the Air.

1883.
The Law of Circumspection—A Tribute to Mr. Tabbern—Success of the Mill—A New Keel on the Water—The Leeds Old Post Office Bought.

1884.
Cost of the Central Stores—The "Co-operative Traveller Abroad"—Description of the New Building—Its Fairy Scene at Night—The Locomotive on its March—Discussions on the Sky Line—Then and Now—The Oldham Example—Purchase of the Victoria Bridge Coal Wharf—Scenes on the River and on the Bank—How Profits are Appropriated.

1885.
Activity of the Fundless Educational Committee—Co-operation among Creatures of Land, Water, and Air—The Long-looked-for Motion—Mr. Fawcett's Calculations—Extension of Depreciation—No Falling Off in Profits.

1886.
No Sun of Freedom Shines on Ignorance—An Educational Levy Carried at Last—The Contest of the Fractions—The Lowest Adopted—Mr. Herbert Spencer's Judgment—An Ignorant Son Fetches less per lb. than one Educated—Intelligence a Paying Investment—Meat Sales Re-commenced—All Sorts of Progress being made in this Triumphant Year.

1887.
A Year of Light—Two Temples—The Stores Manager Succeeds—A Perilous Investment Rejected—A Golden Item in the Balance Sheet—Forty Years in the Wilderness—A Splendid Retrospect.

1888.
The Dawn Visible Now—Leeds Far Ahead of Rochdale—Death of Mr. Teasdill—Presentation to Mr. Prentis—Story of Hebden Bridge—Capital to Spare— Amenities to Labour—Good Results all Round.

1889.
Peculiarities of the Plum Mind—Nine Advantages of Local Co-operation—Commencement of the Women's Guild in Leeds—Their Nine Branches—Social Effects of Profit-Sharing—New Stores Arising in all Directions—Budget Difficulties of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Society—Good Items.

1890.
The Abattoir Year—The Foundation Stone Laid—Its Opening in October—Unsurpassed in Completeness—Its Amazing Business—A Small Fire at the Corn Mill—New Premises to be Purchased in Albion Street—New Enterprises, New Alterations, and New Investments—Indifference to Prosperity.

1891.
The Pleasant Monotony of Success—Government Report on Co-operative Profit-Sharing —Meadow Road Buildings—The Cricket Field, Camp Field Mill, and other Purchases—Balance Sheets Enlarged—An Old Prophet Astonished.

1892.
The Leeds Ship and its Tonnage of Dividends—The Farming Problem Debated—Conditions of the Leeds Education Rate—Participation, a New Sense—The Wholesale, the Two Sides of the Question—Yeast and Eggs commenced to be Imported—The Spiral Store of Elford Grove—Pleasant Caprices of Profit.

1893.
Perplexity of the New Zealander in Leeds—The Street with the National Name—Public Taste in Stores—Death of a Foremost Advocate—Fire and Flood Cricket Field Habitations—The Leeds Musicians at the Crystal Palace—Trade Depression but no Profit Depression.

1894.
The Auxiliary Stores—Architectural Taste Economy in Business—Two Essentials of a Co-operative Store—Obliviousness of Architects—The Distinction of the Day—Peripatetic Shops—What Mr. Maxwell "Has Never Been"—The Strawberry Store—A Meat Employees' Union—A Clearing House for Latent Members—Lucid Balance Sheets—Great Growth of the Society—No Educational Insolvency Now.

1895.
Constitutional Dissatisfaction—Responsibilities of popularity—"The Leeds Resolution"—Dies by its Own Hand—Distinction of the Leeds Musicians—New Stores Opened—New Memorial Stones Laid—Another Wonderful Year.

1896.
Revelations of Industrial Photography—The First Flour Shop—Half a Century of Progress—A Jubilee Contemplated—Marshall Street Buildings—The Parallelogram Come at Last—New Factories Began—The Debating Classes in Operation—Additions to Mill and Abattoir—New Estates Being Purchased—New Streets and Terraces Being Built—Prodigious Business—Another Marvellous Year.

1897.
Looking Backwards—The Famous Past—Disadvantages of Pioneer Times—Triumphant Days—Opportunities of Rule Revising—Business and Progress the Order of the Day—Loss of an Old Leader—Generosity of the Society—Its Support of Co-operative Workshops—Field Club Studies—Scenic Changes Produced by Co-operators in Leeds—Six Hundred and Fifty Houses Built—The City Within a City—What 37,000 Members Mean—The Distinction of Leeds—What Co-operation Really Does—Marvellous Results— A Million of Trade—One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pounds of Profit—The President of the Jubilee.

CHAPTER VIII.
The Map.

CHAPTER IX.
The Branches.

CHAPTER X.
The Secretaries.

CHAPTER XI.
The Presidents.

CHAPTER XII.
Financial Progress.

CHAPTER XIII.
The Leeds Record.

CHAPTER XIV.
Changes in Leeds During Fifty Years.

CHAPTER XV.
Memorable Workers.

CHAPTER XVI.
The Society's Productive Operations.

CHAPTER XVII.
Characteristics of the Society .
 




ILLUSTRATIONS.
――♦――

 

PAGE

Robert Wilson Ambler

8.

John Park

9.

Joseph Nowell

11.

"People's Mill"

47.

William Swallow

71.

George Hyde

114.

Edward Dumbleton

121.

Central Premises—Albion Street (East Side)

125.

Coal Wharf, Victoria Bridge

129.

Abattoir, Gelderd Road

145.

Building Department, Meadow Road

151.

Elford Grove Stores

157.

Albion Street Stores (West Side)

 163.

Hunslet (Church Street) Stores

167.

Strawberry House Stores, Tong Road

169.

First Flour Agent's Shop, Stocks Hill, Bramley—
        Opened 1847

177.

Flour Mill, Grocery and Drapery Warehouses,
        Boot Factory, Bakery, Stables, Stores, &c.,
        Marshall Street, Holbeck

179.

Cabinet Works and Brush Factory, Brookfield Street,
        Hunslet

181.

Mill Committee

185.

Educational Committee

193.

James Tetley, President of the Society

195.

Burley Road Stores

205.

William Emerson

209.

John W. Fawcett, Secretary

211.

Sir Edwin Gaunt

215.

Wm. Bell

221.

Johan Speed

225.

Finance Committee

235.

Grocery Committee

237.

The Managers of the Society

239.

 

 

 


 

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