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.
GIFTS not only
show good nature but bring repute. Influential members of the
community, who never imagined that working people could largely
acquire property, began to look favourably on co-operators who were
not only prosperous but generous. Grateful letters came from
the Welsh colliers, who recognised in the aid sent them what they
called the "co-operative spirit." The Society had for some
years contributed to six charities in the town, to which they had
given the sums enumerated as follow, and lately increased the
amounts as the reader will see in the second column—
Leeds Infirmary increased from
Hospital for Women and Children
Dispensary … …
… … … … …
House of Recovery …
… … … …
Cookridge Convalescent Home …
Institution for the Blind …
… … …
making a total increase from £39 8s. to £61. 4s.
A bakery had come into the minds of the members. Mr.
Wilberforce announced that land adjoining the mill had already been
purchased, and a bakery would soon appear upon it. It seemed
to spring up, like Jonah's gourd, in a night. It seems odd
that a great Flour Society should have existed thirty-two years
before it thought of a bakery. If indeed it was thought of,
the thought took no form of action.
The Co-operative News not being purchased by members
as largely as the directors thought it should be, it was resolved to
sell it at one halfpenny. Shareholders in other companies, which
probably lose all their money, subscribe to the paper representing
their interest, whether it be 3d. or 6d., while co-operators, who
have joined a company which makes money for them, without their
subscribing any, are far less prompt to take in the Co-operative
News at a penny. Yet an official organ with a commanding circulation
is an advantage to all.
There are in every society nominal members who do little or no trade
with it. At the end of June this year 2,836 persons of this
description were struck off the list, which still left 16,554
trading members. The amount forfeited by these cancelled persons
amounted to £762, which went to enrich the Reserve Fund. One day some
ingenious person will treat non-dealing members as a second class. Those who have once joined the Society must have some available good
in them which might be turned to account.
A system of purchasing checks from members in need, unable to wait
for the day of dividend, often led to their checks being parted with
far below their value. To prevent this loss an arrangement was made
for purchasing checks at the central office at fixed rates—a device
which brought convenience and advantage to the selling members and
profit to the Society.
In March the Society lost a tried friend and hard worker by the
sudden death of Mr. John Speed, who was at the board meeting on the
11th of March, and died before the next meeting on the 18th. He had
filled all the chief positions in the Society. In the chapter on
presidents a further notice appears.
The directors were now thirteen in number. Four new stores were
opened at Carlton Hill, Whingate Road, Armley, Roundhay Road, and
Roxburgh Road—all doing good business. Premises were taken in Meadow
Road and altered to suit the trade there. Contracts were entered
into for a new fireproof grocery warehouse in Manor Road, which
increasing trade made necessary. The corner stone of the new store
at Whingate Road was laid by Mr. W. Baxter, one of the directors,
and land was purchased for new stores at Lofthouse, Beckett Street,
and Stanningley, besides the large plot of land adjoining the mill
at a cost of £2,207, for further extensions. The Society by this
time had acquired a habit of looking forward and providing for the
Store building lagged behind purchase, and use never lagged behind
erecting. The Tong Road store was opened. The corner stone of the Roundhay Road store was laid by Mr. John Teasdill. The corner stone
of the Carlton Hill store was laid by Mr. Wm. Emsley. Their names
are carved on stone in the usual manner, and the record of their
services is thus preserved. Mr. Maynard was appointed manager of the
corn mill, and won praise for intelligence and business capacity. This year the business of the Society ran on castors.
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.
TIN checks upon
purchases of flour were given to members only, and their share of
profit was estimated upon the tins. It now became the rule to
give tins to all purchasers of flour. The new plan was
calculated to interest the outside public to become purchasers.
This was virtually a tin suffrage act.
The £60 per half year awarded to directors was increased to
£80. The number of members had increased, assets had
increased, the business had increased, the profits made were
greater, and the labour of the directorship greater. It was
fair that those who were guiding the Society to larger prosperity
should share with the members in the benefits. The increase
would have been fairer had it been larger. The whole sum was
little more than one penny per member for the half year. The
duties of the directors occupied them two, three, and sometimes four
nights a week until 10-30 at night.
Messrs. William Bell, R. Tabbern, and W. Baxter were the
delegates to Newcastle-on-Tyne, to invite the Congress assembling
there to meet, in 1881, in Leeds, which was unanimously agreed to.
The report that the invitation was accepted was received with
pleasure, and the directors authorised to give the Congress a
Yorkshire welcome when they came. And it was given. It
was a memorable Congress in its way, but this is not the place to
Rooms were taken at a rental of £100 over the London and
Yorkshire Bank for the purpose of a newsroom and library on one
floor, and a room above for a board and committee purposes.
This showed that intelligence was becoming a commodity supplied by
the Society. The newsroom was well supplied with newspapers
and periodicals, and was well frequented, and like the
library—brought in the germ state from Holbeck—became popular.
A hope was expressed that members would see their way to make a
permanent grant out of profits, to sustain these and similar rooms.
The Rochdale Society never had these hopes deferred, because they
began by providing ample instruction for their members.
The Board decided that the offices of general secretary and
cashier should be united, and Mr. J. W. Fawcett was deemed the
fittest person to undertake the joint duties. He was elected
unanimously. A new officer, Mr. Tabbern, was chosen to attend
the board and committee meetings, under the title of "Board Clerk."
Mr. Tabbern, in all his duties (and there were others assigned him),
was a real co-operator who cared for the Society, who knew well its
workings, and having good knowledge of business, of engineering and
machinery in general, was much valued by the members.
Some person who either knew that what he said was not true;
or was too ignorant to know that it was untrue; or too negligent to
ascertain what the truth was—sent word to the sanitary inspector
that the Society was selling adulterated articles. The
inspector bought specimens of oatmeal, butter, and coffee. The
directors at once determined to have those articles analysed by the
Bradford borough analyst, who gave certificates that all the
articles were what they professed to be—genuine. The butter
was found to consist—
Casein or Curd
As this is the composition of good butter, the reader may be
glad to have the analysis before him.
Mr. Wilberforce read a report on the possibilities of
resuming the meat trade, prepared by Mr. Thomas, who had visited
many societies gathering relevant facts. Subsequently Mr.
Turner Tetley explained the subject in a very lucid manner to a
quarterly conference. On the motion of the Rev. John Bell, who
could not be an authority upon the subject, it was decided that it
was inopportune to recommence the business.
On October 22nd occurred the great Snow Night, the only
instance when the proceedings of the Society were arrested by the
elements. A quarterly meeting was called in the People's Hall
for 7-30, Mr. Wm. Bell, president, and thirty or forty others were
present, but not the required fifty to make a quorum. Mr. Bell
opened the proceedings and talked to kill time. It was said no
one knew better than Mr. Bell how to do that. This was a very
equivocal compliment, but it merely meant that Mr. Bell had great
facility of speech and always an abundance of ideas on hand.
In the House of Commons forty members are required to be
present before business can be done; in the Leeds Society fifty is
the number, and the meeting had to be closed. It was night
when rain, snow, and wind made a joint-stock tempest, night on which
no one ought to have been out. It was creditable enthusiasm in
those who went to the meeting.
A dreadful colliery explosion took place at Seaham. The
members at once voted £50 to alleviate the suffering families.
The Society lost by death the service of Mr. W. S. Roberts, a
director, who had been an energetic and useful member. In
another way they lost the services of Mr. W. Swallow, who had been
secretary for about six years, and who had great energy and
New stores were opened in Beckett Street and Meadow Road, and
land purchased in Somerby Street and Kirkstall Road for new stores
to be erected. Not obtaining support for their drapery at
Bramley the store was reluctantly closed. New stores were
opened at Lofthouse, Stanningley, and Somerby Street, Burley Road.
The net increase of members for the year was 1,256.
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.
MANY of the
leading "wise men " of Leeds no doubt were of opinion that one day
co-operation would end in an explosion, but none expected to see it
on fire. This year they saw the People's Mill in flames.
On the night of October 10th (1881) the mill was running up
to half-past nine. When the workmen left there was no
indication of fire. Three-quarters of an hour later flames
were observed in the upper part, which spread with such swiftness
that they baffled the efforts of those who were earliest on the
Mr. Wood, waterworks superintendent to the Corporation, in
Manor Road, rendered valuable services, for assistance in a
fire has money value. Neighbourly help also came from Messrs.
Marshall and Messrs. Emanuel and Son. Employees of the Society
were soon on the spot, and made heroic efforts to subdue the fire.
Had it been their own private property they could not have worked
harder and with a better will. It was the opinion of many
there at the commencement, and well able to judge, that if the fire
brigade men had not interfered with the Society's men, who had pipes
fixed, and were playing well upon the fire, it would not have
reached half the dimensions it did. As soon as the town's
firemen arrived they at once ordered the mill men to cease playing,
and leave the place, yet they knew best where the most dangerous
part of the fire was. One man was actually inside the mill
with a hose, pouring volumes of water upon the fire, and getting the
mastery of it. The men refused to leave their vantage ground.
To compel them to do so the town firemen turned off the water,
unfixed the mill pipes, and put theirs on. Thus fifteen to
twenty minutes were lost. In the meantime the fire rapidly
spread, causing a large and needless destruction of property.
The town firemen could have fixed their pipes to other plugs in the
vicinity. These firemen acted as though they were grocers.
When called to a fire with which nobody has the means of dealing,
they properly take command of the premises, but where machinery for
extinguishing the fire is already in operation, and in the hands of
workmen who best know where the fire is fed, it is silly to
supersede them, and the fire superintendent should have been so
instructed, if he had no judgment himself. His business was to
assist, not frustrate assistance. The Fire Insurance Office
should have brought an action against that pedantic red-tape
superintendent for damages.
The destroyed building was five storeys high, about 50 yards
in length, and 35 in breadth. The basement was occupied by
three boilers and 22 pairs of stones, none of which were damaged
except from the water. The fire was first noticed in the top
storey near the "stive" room—a compartment into which the hot air
from the stones is carried. There is usually an accumulation
of dust in it, and the fire was probably caused by spontaneous
combustion. Such a room is always dangerous, and it was an
oversight that it was not made fireproof.
The Co-operative Insurance Company, in which the mill was
insured, met with promptness and fairness the claims arising out of
the fire. They paid for stock, £4,000; for machinery, 93,000;
for freehold, £1,500; and all expenses connected with the putting
out of the fire.
Stables and other old buildings were pulled down, and a large
fireproof warehouse erected in the yard adjoining the mill for the
purpose of storing grain. It was thought better, after buying
grain, to have it upon premises under control, rather than let it
lie at railway stations or in the warehouses of the vendors.
No one has a better right to be pictorially associated with
the fortunes of the famous People's Mill than Mr. George Hyde, who
entered the service of the Society as a miller in 1852. He has
now (1897) shared all the vicissitudes and triumphs of flour
manufacture during 45 years, and is still in the employ of the
Society, which he has served so long with fidelity and zeal.
There is an aspect of business integrity in his face, and the
expression is that of a man who means things to be done. Since
the days when corn grinders were the subject of song, the public
have had a conception of what a miller is like. That
appearance has never been defined, but Mr. Hyde looks it.
In the process of flour manufacture, the corn is elevated 1,600 feet
and wormed 566 feet during its various journeys to and from the
cleaning machines, before it finally reaches the grinding stage,
after which the flour and offals are elevated 2,626 feet and wormed
575 feet before being finally deposited into the various sacks for
sale. There are 546 feet of spouting for corn, and 2,582 feet
for flour and offals. And to drive the shafting and various
machines no less than 8,321 feet of belting is required.
The directors were overwhelmed with duties in addition to
their ordinary work. They had to meet nightly to determine
upon new buildings and machinery. The mill manager, Mr.
Maynard, visited various corn mills where special machinery was at
work. Finally the roller system was chosen in place of the
eleven pairs of stones previously used. The Board resolved to
have the best arranged corn mill in the country.
Previous to the fire at the mill there had not been any fixed
rules or regulations for the employees, as to the time of commencing
and leaving work. New rules were printed and hung up in the
time-house and the various workrooms. To the honour of the
employees the rules are faithfully observed.
The fire interrupted, but did not deter, the Society from
progressive steps. Mr. Swale brought forward the advantage of
buying certain plots of land in Duncan Street, which the Corporation
were offering for sale. Everyone agreed that it was desirable
to have a good position in the central part of the town, but the
opportunity, for reasons which seemed good at the time, was let
pass. Mr. Tunstall having bought several of the plots offered
the Society as many as they required, for £11,250, deemed favourable
terms. Mr. Campbell moved that it was "undesirable" to make
such purchase. The chance came no more.
A considerable plot of land at Carlton Hill having been
unoccupied for several years, three houses were built upon it at the
cost of about £350 each. Two were soon sold, and one was kept
for the use of the Society. Ten other houses were afterwards
erected upon the remaining portions of the land, which soon found
purchasers. Thus one part of the business of the Society
became dealing in houses. Land was bought and built upon, and
if members did not require the houses they were sold to those who
A report was received from the committee appointed to
consider the question of buying from the Manchester Wholesale
instead of buying from private firms outside the movement. The
committee found that the Society could buy with advantage from
Manchester. The report was signed by Thomas Wilberforce, J. H.
Richardson, Samuel Hargreave, James Swale, Isaac Earnshaw, Richard
Tabbern, John Teasdill, Henry Maundrill, and William Bell,
president. The question was referred to a special general
meeting of members by a quarterly meeting majority of six.
A further, and what is called in the House of Commons a "full
dress," debate again took place in the Philosophical Hall. Mr.
William Swallow moved, "That the Society join the Wholesale at
Manchester." Mr. William Baxter seconded the proposal in a
cogent speech, observing that if they took this step many smaller
societies would follow in the track of the great Society at Leeds.
This was the first time the term "great society" was employed at
home. At the end of a late discussion the motion was lost.
Managers of societies as a rule prefer to buy themselves. The
problem is how to unite integrity with interest and afford
guarantees to the purchasers of the genuineness of the articles
placed before them.
An attempt was made to re-commence what had been declared to
be "inopportune," the meat business, in the Kirkstall district.
Arrangements were made with the butchers in the district to supply
the members, half bonus being allowed to purchasers. But the
experiment did not last long.
Hitherto, the Building Department belonging to the Society
(no other society save the Wholesale has a permanent building
department) had been under two managers, one for the mason and one
for the carpenter work. At length it was found not to work
satisfactorily, and Mr. Teasdill was selected to take the control of
both departments. By his assiduity and professional knowledge
he was considered to have saved the Society hundreds of pounds.
The Chief Constable of Halifax sent word to the directors
that he had a man in custody for forging large quantities of
metallic checks for defrauding co-operative societies, Leeds
included. The Recorder sentenced him to fifteen months'
imprisonment. As the case was bad, the Recorder ordered extra
costs to the prosecutors. The die-maker was strongly censured
for making dies without ascertaining that they were for lawful use.
A block of cottages and a shop were purchased in Hunslet
Carr. The shop was converted into a store. A new store
was opened in Cardigan Fields, and one in Tong Road, called
Strawberry House, making the number of stores at that time
fifty-three. Out of the half year's profits £25 was voted for
repairs and for replenishing the Library. Not much, certainly,
but it showed some increasing interest in education.
The new Bakery was opened with the new patent ovens, which
gave satisfaction. Great credit was given to Mr. Smith, the
manager, and to his staff for the excellent products they made.
The reader will see in some of these pages that the workmen are
associated with the manager in the credit accorded. This was
quite a new thing when co-operators set the excellent example of
recognising the value of those who did the work, as well as of those
who devised and directed it.
The directors were again inundated with money.
"Inundated " was the term used to describe this new distress.
No other movement among the working people than that of co-operation
was ever "inundated" in this way. Two directors, Mr. Teasdill
and Mr. Swale, Mr. Fawcett, general secretary, with Mr. Tabbern,
board clerk, were appointed to invest £5,000 in Leeds Corporation
Bonds, which was done without any expense to the Society. Had
a stock or share broker been employed, his commission would have
been nearly £50.
It shows advantage of the exhibitions of the productions of
co-operative workshops, that in consequence of Mr. Shufflebotham's
excellent display of Coventry watches at the Congress this year a
club of forty-four members was formed, and owing to Mr. J. M.
Wilkinson's friendly activity £439 were paid to the Coventry Society
in three years.
Mention was made in the report of President Bell of the
usefulness of the reading-rooms established in Boar Lane. The
average attendance had been good, excellent papers had been read,
and profitable discussions had taken place.
The 13th Annual Co-operative Congress met in Leeds this
year—a memorable Congress in many ways, as we have said.
Delegates and visitors were alike delighted with the brightness and
opulence of their entertainment. Important business was done
notwithstanding. The present writer, giving his impressions at
the time, said of the Leeds Society one cannot say everything at
once. The pens supplied by it for the use of delegates were
broad nibs. This has never been the case at previous
Congresses. The pens have always been fine points. But
in Leeds we did not require to put a "fine point" on anything.
The great Society makes a broad, clear mark in co-operative
progress. Each delegate was supplied with an "Illustrated
Handbook," with a large map kept clear of detail and showing well
the numerous co-operative stations within it. The engravings
in the handbook were interesting, as was also the literary and
business information it contained.
The Society is remarkable for vicissitudes and victories.
Many delegates, as well as visitors and strangers, were astonished
to find that the mighty Leeds Society has upwards of fifty branches.
The large map they presented to us would not show them all.
Leeds is the "lion" society of co-operation in numbers and members.
What a splendid field to work in! It may become the model
society in all things—educational and "profit-sharing" for instance.
What can give so vivid an idea of the superb energy of Leeds as the
fact that they are permanently engaged in branch building?
They have a considerable staff of workmen so employed, namely
seventeen joiners and thirty-five bricklayers.
THE MONTHLY RECORD―IDLE
CAPITAL IN AN ACTIVE STORE―PROFITABLE
SUGGESTIVENESS―DRAPERY AND CLOTHING
CLUBS DEVISED―RAPIDITY OF
SPLENDID PROCESSION―CAREER OF A
DRAYMAN―EFFECT OF THE DEMONSTRATION―PARTICIPATION
WITH INDUSTRY STILL IN THE AIR.
Record of the Society, edited by Mr. J. W. Fawcett (begun 1878), has
now become an established official organ of the Society.
Further mention of it appears elsewhere. Its continuous issue
is evidence of the tireless energy of the general secretary.
The corner stone of the Rothwell Store was laid by Mr. J. W.
Fawcett, when the members presented him with a gold watch and guard,
and Mrs. Fawcett with a handsome gold brooch, as tokens of regard.
Mr. Fawcett notified to the directors that more than £31,000
had been unproductive for the last six months, viz., land at
Rothwell, £430; land at Carlton Hill, £600; money paid on the new
grain warehouse, £11,033 (exclusive of the old mill land, £2,000);
paid on account of new machinery, £8,543; investments in Carlton
Iron Company, £2,000; Leeds Woollen Cloth Company, £2,000;
Heckmondwike Manufacturing Company, £2,200. These facts
received attention. Twenty-nine applications were received and
accepted for advances under the building rules, amounting to £4,870.
Many were from Yeadon, where a large plot of land had been
purchased. Eventually the houses made one of the handsomest
terraces in Yeadon.
Mr. Hunn, manager of the coal department, who thought about
the business as well as executed it, suggested that it might be
profitable to bring the grain from Hull and Goole by boats of the
Society instead of by rail. It was decided to alter one of the
coal boats into a grain boat, and the boat "Tabbern" was sent to
Hull on the 20th February, 1882. She brought back 350 quarters
of wheat, which was a great saving in cost of carriage alone.
Then another boat was prepared, and called the "Goodall." Then
a new boat was built specially for the carriage of grain. She
was called "Baxter." She cost £530, and would carry 500
quarters of wheat, which proved a further saving, and was better
accommodation for the mill than it heretofore had. Another
instance that thought means gain, which members who oppose
educational grants are beginning to understand.
At the suggestion of Mr. L'Amie, the manager of the
ready-made outfitting department, the directors were induced to
establish drapery and clothing Clubs. By this means the
members were enabled to save a considerable amount of money.
The payments were 6d. and upwards per week. One club,
commenced in March and finished in August, bought to the extent of
£1,204. Another, commenced in September and finished in
February following, made purchases of £2,470. The total sales
to these two clubs were £3,674 in one year. No doubt a large
portion of this money would not have been spent with the Society but
for these clubs. Another instance showing that thought makes
money without hand labour.
All concerned with the work of the Society displayed such
energy that the erection of the mill and filling it with the best
machinery that money could buy was accomplished within eleven
months, and the Society was again grinding its own corn.
Mr. Wilberforce acknowledged that thanks were due to the
millers of Leeds for the friendliness with which they offered to
supply the Society with flour. Thirty years before, when the
main shaft of the mill was broken, the millers would do nothing of
When completed, the opening of the new mill was celebrated by
a demonstration such as had never been seen in Leeds before. A
procession took place of all the horses, carts, and wagons, fitted
up in a picturesque manner, showing the various branches of business
the Society was engaged in. One wagon was fitted up as a
grocer's shop, with assistants weighing up tea, sugar, and other
things. Drapery and outfitting operations were displayed on
another wagon. The shoe manufactory was represented by
shoemakers at work. The corn mill had two wagons—one filled
with corn and sheaves of corn on the top, another with flour.
The bakery wagon had men in their snow-white uniforms in the act of
making up bread, and surrounded by huge loaves of plain and spice
bread and massive meat pies. The Baildon Brass Band, the Adel
Reformatory Brass Band, Handbell Ringers, the Leeds Engineers' Band,
the Rothwell Old Band, and the Cleckheaton Victoria Prize Band,
making the air resound, accompanied the procession. Good music
was heard in the streets, as prizes were won at the Crystal Palace
Festival by the Leeds musicians.
The procession visited the mills, stores, and covered all
Leeds in its march. A great meeting followed. The
speakers announced by placards were His Worship the Mayor (Alderman
Tatham), Lloyd Jones, William Nuttall, E. O. Greening, William Bell
(late president), and Mr. T. Wilberforce in the chair.
The reader will see adjoining the portrait of Mr. Dumbleton,
who entered the Society in 1855, and was one of the first draymen.
There is an element of confidence and looking forwardness in his
honest face. Yet, when he drove the first co-operative dray,
he could not have foreseen this brilliant procession in which he may
be said to have been a moving figure. He is still in the
employ of the Society as cartman, and has helped to marshal still
The effect of the demonstration was to awaken an interest in the
people of Leeds, transcending anything the Society had effected
before, and a great acquisition of members followed—as many as 1,055
before the end of December. The wealth of the Society, the
variety, completeness, and attractiveness of its departments, when
brought visibly before the eyes of spectators, impressed many as no
arguments could. Refreshments were to be obtained at the
Horticultural Gardens, at cocoa-house prices.
The share capital was increased by £8,594 this half year.
The turnover and profits grew in proportion.
In response to many applications from members the loan
account, which had been closed for some time, was re-opened, and 3
per cent was paid for all moneys so invested.
With a view, it was stated, to introduce the principle of
participation in profit among the employees, the Grocery Committee,
of which Mr. Swale was a member, passed a resolution to recommend to
the Board that 1 per cent of the net profits be given to the
employees of the stores to be divided according to wages paid to
each. By this means the least boy in the stores, as in the
case at the Woolwich Arsenal Store, would have an incentive to use
his best endeavours to not only be more careful of the goods, but to
be more attentive to the customers. But the recommendation was
THE LAW OF CIRCUMSPECTION—A TRIBUTE TO MR. TABBERN—SUCCESS
OF THE MILL—A NEW KEEL ON THE WATER—THE LEEDS OLD POST OFFICE
THIS was a year
marked by gratitude and growth. A valued servant received
graceful recognition, and new proposals were considered with
circumspection. By too much hesitation profitable
opportunities are let pass, but circumspection is a good rule to
follow provided it does not lose sight of action, which alone gives
it virtue. Circumspection, when it degenerates into
indecision, is mere fastidious foolishness.
A proposal was made to commence a separate Wholesale Society
in Leeds. Mr. Maundrill read a paper in favour of it, and Mr.
Swale read one in favour of joining the Wholesale Federation.
A committee of inquiry was appointed.
The health of Mr. Tabbern unfortunately obliged him to resign
his office. An illuminated resolution was presented to him,
recording—That the Board accepted with deep regret and sympathy the
resignation of Mr. Richard Tabbern, clerk to the Board, necessitated
by failing health. During many years Mr. Tabbern had
faithfully served the Society in various capacities as president,
director, and clerk to the Board, and the directors record this
expression of their appreciation of the value of the services he has
rendered, and sincerely hope that by God's good blessing he may be
completely restored to health and be a comfort to his wife and
family.—(Signed) T. Wilberforce, president, John W. Fawcett,
The new mill has now been working for twelve months with a
general absence of complaints and a largely increased demand for
flour, proving the great superiority of the roller method over
grinding by stones.
A question was raised as to the legality of making grants to
the library, and no vote was made. The directors took legal
advice, which justified them in making grants in the future.
The share capital at the end of June, 1883, had increased
more than £11,500, and then stood at more than £203,000, and the net
profits amounted to £22,746.
With a view of extending the carrying trade, a large new keel
has been purchased for £530. All the grain from Hull and Goole
is now being brought in the Society's boats.
Fourteen applications for money, under the building rules,
and one for a mortgage, amounting together to £4,441, were granted.
The five through houses erected at Carlton Hill have been all
sold to members, and five more, filling up the vacant land there,
are being proceeded with.
The glory of the year was an ambitious purchase made by the
Board, which showed enterprise and judgment. Further premises
being required in Albion Street, and Messrs. Conyers, the owners,
agreeing to accept £7,000 for their premises, the old buildings were
soon taken down, and the noble pile erected which now stands on the
The corner stone was laid by the president (Mr. T.
Wilberforce). A tea and public meeting in the Albert Hall
celebrated the event, when Mr. Wilberforce was presented with a
framed portrait, in oils, of himself, a gold watch, an albert guard,
and a timepiece and bronze ornaments.
Thus briefly the chief events of the year may be told, but
their significance is beyond the cursory reader's estimate.
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
STEPS of pride
and importance enliven this year. Central stores with an
arcade entrance were opened in Albion Street, an excellent mid-town
position. The architect of the building was Mr. J. W. Cannon,
of Leeds, and the principal contractor Mr. John Schofield, of
Dewsbury. All the interior fixtures and woodwork were done by
the Society's own carpenters. The cost of the building
(including the original site of Messrs. Conyers' warehouse),
formerly the old post office, has been £27,000, most of which has
already been paid. The additional cost of fixtures and
internal fittings, £3,500, make a total of £30,500. Not long
after the completion and occupation of the building it was visited
by the "Co-operative Traveller Abroad," Mr. E. O. Greening, than
whom no better traveller of that description has been seen about.
His impressions present a vivid picture of the Leeds Society at this
time worthy of condensation and citation. He regarded the
career of the Leeds Society as the best example in the co-operative
movement of systematic and persevering propagandism, inspired by the
conviction that co-operation is something more than a business—it is
a great cause.
The leaders in Leeds, he says, set themselves to make
converts. Wherever a district has been marked out for the
practical work of a branch store, meeting after meeting has been
held to make the working people of the locality understand the
meaning and the importance to them of the proposed step. Many
of the directors of the Society have given up their Saturday
afternoon and evenings to this work.
The "traveller" saw, with admiration, the triumph of this
devotion in the noble pile of buildings in Albion Street, with
departments so opulent, and rooms so numerous, that it is like going
over a fashionable township. "The glory of the Central Store
is a palatial room bearing the appropriate name of the 'People's
Hall,' where lectures and concerts are given, and public meetings
held. As the visitor passes the lofty entrance and up the
broad staircase, the stores, on each side of him, filled with goods
attractively displayed, are crowded with customers in front of the
counters, and with busy employees behind. If it is evening,
the place is bright with light in every corner, and has almost the
appearance of an elegant market, or continental fair, so gay is the
scene. Some idea of the trade may be formed from the fact that
nearly £20,000 worth of drapery and £10,000 worth of boots and shoes
are sold over the counters in the course of the year, besides the
"Besides the busy shops on the ground floor and the great hall
crowning the building, there are spacious and convenient offices,
and an excellent reading-room which is also used for lectures,
discussions, and entertainments, which are not expected to draw
audiences large enough for the People's Hall. This is a wise
arrangement, for meetings which in a moderate-sized room would be
counted successful are converted into dismal failures by being held
in a hall five times too big for the occasion."
No figures tell like the realities which the figures
represent. "Here," says the traveller,
"in a yard under a covered shed is a
great traction engine employed to take out flour to outlying
branches about the town. This mighty road locomotive is loaded
up every morning with ten tons of precious human food, and steams
away along the roads which wind over hill and dale around Leeds,
depositing at each branch the quantity required for the consumption
of the members who live in the neighbourhood."
Discussions were raised on the character of the buildings in
Albion Street. Some demurred to the wisdom and some to the
expense of an attractive sky line to the building. But what
pride would there be in pointing to the Central Stores if the roof
was as tame and flat as the bonnet of a quakeress was a few years
ago. It was conjectured by some that the architect increases
the expense in advertising his own taste. It may as well be
said that Christopher Wren made St. Paul's Cathedral the pride of
the Metropolis—to advertise himself. An architect of genius
endows the town with reputation where his buildings stand, and
endows those who cause them to be erected with a reputation for
If realities give vividness to figures, pictures give
vividness to descriptions which the reader will find to be true, if
he looks at the annexed delineation of the Central Stores, Albion
Street, East side, opened July 19th, 1884. It is a picturesque
pile, which is saying a great deal, and its solidity and grace
enrich the architecture of the town.
The progress by this time became so apparent to the members
that a comparison was made between the condition of affairs eleven
years ago and now.
Then (1873), the members numbered 9,071,
the share capital was £49,649, the turnover for the year £182,474,
and the net profit £14,778. The value of freeholds was
£29,129, and the Society had only eleven branches.
Now, the number of members is 20,895, and
the share capital £217,940. The turnover for the twelve months
ending the 30th of June last was £498,578, far more than double what
it was in 1873. The net profit for the twelve months preceding
June 30th was £55,832. In the same period the Society paid as
interest upon capital (to members) no less than £10,471. The
present total value of the Society's freeholds is £118,885, against
£29,129 in 1873; and the value of fixed stock, machinery, &c., is
In 1884 the two societies in Oldham spent together no less a
sum than £2,600 on reading-rooms, libraries, lecture classes, and
concerts, for the benefit and pleasure of the members. These
facts were brought forward to show that Leeds should not lag behind
Report was made that the boot factory in Marshall Street is
being enlarged by the appropriation of the old People's Hall, and
that the directors have bought the coal wharf at Victoria Bridge for
£10,000, which gives them a valuable property in the centre of the
Of all possessions of man the most delightful are land and water,
with vessels about—more picturesque than mountain or valley, and
more serviceable, since water will carry you far elsewhere which
valley and mountain will not. Though the adjacent
representation is but a coal wharf, it has pictorial qualities.
The boat is probably the "Tabbern" or the "Baxter." The man
standing so jauntily on the side of the deck is probably some Nansen
in the service of the Society, who explores Hull and Goole in the
interests of the corn mill. There is a barge lying by whose
destination is somewhere in the regions of coal. There is life
and stir all about the wharf. The tall chimney sends up a
cheer of smoke, its only mode of expressing its satisfaction at
being in the picture. Surveying the scene are substantial,
well-managed offices, as I thought when recently there. There
are fourteen boats in possession of the Society, each carrying
eighty tons, besides three grain boats. The Society has
sixteen horses, and in winter it has to hire twenty more, which are
probably "boarded out," as the Society has no home accommodation for
them. The coal department includes twelve railway depôts,
five on the Midland and six on the Great Northern Railways, and one
at Burley-in-Wharfedale. Seventy railway wagons are employed
in carrying coal to the various depôts.
The opulence of the Society may be seen in many places, its outlying
activity is nowhere more striking than on the bank of the river Aire
at the Victoria Wharf.
With a view to keep the number of members on the books
correct, 2,655 persons' names were crossed off. That number
had been accumulating for many years, because they had not complied
with the rules of the Society, which require a member to purchase to
the amount of £8 a year, and the payment, within three years, of the
shares required to be held by him.
A further increase is mentioned in the June report of 647
members, bringing the present number up to 20,895. The sales
for this half year have been £246,859, showing an increase of
£11,794 over the corresponding half of last year. The net
profit is £28,557 after paying interest on capital, providing for
the reserve fund, and depreciation of property and stock, as is
usual in co-operative societies.
The manner in which the profits (£28,557) were disposed shows
the general method pursued by the Society:―
Dividend on flour claims, 33,070 bags, at 2s. 6d per bag
4,133 15 0
Dividend on other purchase claims, £171,560, at 2s. 6d.
per £ …
21,445 0 0
Depreciation of freeholds, at the rate of 1¼per
… … …
Balance to be carried to reserve fund
… … … … … … … …
1,492 18 1
Thus every member could see the profits were wisely appropriated.
ACTIVITY OF THE FUNDLESS EDUCATIONAL
COMMITTEE—COOPERATION AMONG CREATURES OF LAND, WATER, AND AIR—THE
LONG-LOOKED-FOR MOTION—MR. FAWCETT'S CALCULATIONS—EXTENSION OF
DEPRECIATION—NO FALLING OFF IN PROFITS.
THIS year opens
with hope that a long contested question affecting the progress and
repute of the Society is nearing settlement.
The Educational Committee, not only fundless, but in debt,
make ceaseless efforts for the advantage of the Society, and have
arranged for lectures in connection with the Yorkshire College, free
to members and the public alike, by which the Society contributes to
the information of the inhabitants of the town and people in the
street, who are neither members nor purchasers. The first
course was given by Professor Miall, on "Co-operation and
Competition among Animals." Prince Kropotkin has since shown
that co-operators have much to learn from the animal and insect
world. The ants take lessons, the seals are educated, sparrows
receive flying lessons, crows study military tactics—co-operators
have plenty of examples of the wisdom of acquiring knowledge, not of
the schools otherwise provided, but mainly co-operative knowledge
necessary for the store and the workshop.
At a meeting on the 7th of October, 1885, for the revision of
the Society's rules, the chairman, Mr. T. Wilberforce, formally
moved clause 123 for the setting apart of "a sum not exceeding 1¼
per cent of the net profits for an Educational Fund for promoting
instruction and culture." Mr. Swallow seconded the motion on
the ground that those societies having an Educational Fund were the
most prosperous. Mr. Fawcett, the secretary, said that
independently of the £100 granted by the members to the Educational
Committee, the expenses for the last twelve months in connection
with the reading-room and the loss on the Co-operative News
amounted to £340, the loss in connection with tea meetings would be
about £100, cost of Record about £50, and grant to Central
Board, £60, making altogether an annual charge of about £550.
The net profits of the Society for the past twelve months, after
deducting the amount set apart for the depreciation of freeholds,
was about £55,000, which at 1¼ per
cent would give a sum equal to about £700 per annum for educational
It is an advantage to have a secretary ready-handed and
ready-minded, who can tell a meeting in a minute all the relevant
facts which should be in its mind. Mr. Fawcett certainly
proved that it was time the Society had a permanent Intelligence
Fund unless the Leeds Society intended to take a back seat among
English stores. The clause was adopted as one of the proposed
rules, afterwards to be ratified or rejected. It will be a new
thing to find it ratified after so many rejections.
The following table is quoted because it shows the extension
of depreciation of investments, and illustrates the constant
vigilance and business sagacity characteristic of the affairs of the
Society from year to year.
£ s d
In payment of a dividend on checks sent in for
flour, 36,030 bags at 2s.
… … … … … …
In payment of a dividend on checks sent in for
other purchases, £190,860 at 2s. 4d
22,267 0 0
In the depreciation of the Society's freehold
property at the rate of 11 per cent…
1,804 17 9
In the depreciation of one of the Society's
… … … … … … … … …
1,000 0 0
Balance to be carried to the reserve fund
469 12 3
It seemed desirable to create an Insurance Fund for the
Society, and the directors recommend that £2,000 be taken from the
Reserve Fund as a nucleus thereof, which will enable them to save
the premiums on a number of small properties, and one day may enable
them to cover their principal risks.
The turnover for the June half year is £250,086, the net
profit being £30,170. The turnover for the December half year
is £245,248, the profit being £29,144.
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
told us that "Under the freest constitution the ignorant are always
slaves." The majority of the Leeds Society have now resolved
to end this risk.
On the 31st of May, 1886, Mr. Wilberforce, president, in the
chair, at a special meeting for the revision of rules, Mr. J.
Robinson moved that the amount to be allowed for educational
purposes be ¾ per cent of the net
profits instead of 1¼ per cent as
proposed. The Record says that "much to the surprise of
the educationalists this motion was carried." Whether they
were surprised at the smallness of the amount or surprised that any
amount was carried was not stated. Subsequently Mr. H. C.
Hammond moved another amendment that 2½
per cent of the net profits be so appropriated. This was
negatived and the ¾ per cent
It was a bold proposal, that the members should adopt the
Rochdale rule, which made the fortune and reputation of the weaver
pioneers, who permanently allotted 2½
per cent for the promotion of intelligence among the members.
Probably the ¾ per cent was made
from a prudent forecast that that was as much as could be carried.
Considering what had gone before it was a great thing to get
¾ per cent put into the laws.
It raised education from a charity to a right. Education is
not contagious. It cannot be caught, it has to be taught.
Intelligence is a plant that grows only in cultivated ground.
Mr. Herbert Spencer has put it on record in his great work on
Sociology that "Co-operation can only succeed according to the
measure of the intelligence and moral qualities of those who attempt
to carry it out." Co-operation will never go forward without
wisdom among its members. There is no emancipation without
knowledge. Progress depends on good seeing, and good seeing
depends on the education of the eye. Education is not only a
necessity for members, it is the indispensable policy of a
It is singular that even an ignorant man cannot see that if
the son of a workman and the son of a master were weighed in the
scales, the son of the master would fetch more per lb., avoirdupois
weight, than the son of a workman, simply because the faculties of
the gentleman's son are trained and ready for use, and have the
power of use, while the faculties of the workman's son have had no
training, no development, and no capacity to advance his own
interests, except in the form of hired labour—for somebody else's
advantage and not his own. Every co-operative society would be
twice as rich as it is, were its members twice as wise as they are.
Co-operators make many investments, but no investment pays them so
large or so sure a dividend as investments in intelligence. No
society which begun with provision for education in its rules ever
turned back to ignorance, nor has any society that began without
such a rule ever made one afterwards. The Leeds Society is now
the splendid exception. Intelligence no longer lives on dole
The provision for intelligence did not arrest the progress of
the Society, which went on with increasing momentum. The sales
for the June half year reached £240,504, and the net profits
£27,228. In the December half year the sales were £240,716,
and the profits £27,509. The Society went on buying land
sacred and profane. One of its plots formed part of the
Vicarage Estate, Hunslet. On one or more of the Society's
estates a handsome chapel has been erected on land bought from the
Society. In June, it is announced that, after the elapse of
many years, a commencement has once more been made in the meat
business, though "the season of the year is most inopportune."
The December report states that the Meat sales have been
£7,685, leaving a profit of £740, which, considering the short
period of sales, was considered promising. Ten branches had
already been opened, and others were contemplated.
In October (1879) it is said "at last, after many years
looking out, the directors have secured a suitable site for a store
at Stanningley." If it took "many years" looking out for a
single site, how many years must have been expended in looking for
all the sites now occupied. But in later years if the
directors did not find a site they bought an estate and made one.
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.
LAST year was the
year of triumph. This, the 40th year of the Society's
existence, is the first year of assured light, as the reader will
see a new item in the chronicle of the appropriation of profits.
Leeds has left its back seat among the societies vacant, and now
sits proudly in the front. Some members write in the Record
of a "Temple erected to the worship of bonus"—a mean place would be
sufficient for that if such a temple had no devotees who looked
higher. A temple for the worship of principle, in which
honesty is first and dividend second, could not be too chaste or too
beautiful, like some of the Roman temples which were an inspiration
when erected, and which people still gladly go across the world to
Mr. J. Dockray, president, at the quarterly meeting of the
Society, brought forward facts to show the advantage of a stores
manager, as various economies and reforms had thereby been effected.
Further, about 400 volumes, mostly standard works, had been
purchased from the Chapel Allerton Society and added to the library.
This year the directors rather submitted than recommended a
proposal to invest £2,000 in the Manchester Ship Canal. They
put the question on the sensible ground that the magnitude of the
scheme gave it an aspect of national importance. Mr. J.
Dockray, the president, and Mr. James Swale reported the views of
the directors, in speeches of moderation and good sense. They
thought the Canal might benefit the trade of Leeds and South
Yorkshire. Mr. Tabbern and Mr. W. Lishman supported an
amendment which affirmed that the "time was inopportune," which was
carried by 74 votes to 65. The relevant and consistent opinion
was expressed that, "as the Canal was a commercial speculation, if
the Society made further investments they should be in co-operative
concerns." Mr. Tetley, Mr. Campbell, and others were against
the investment, and the motion was rejected.
It nowhere appears that when any investment is proposed
members are asked to consider whether they are willing to lose the
money if the concern turned out ill. If such consideration
were presented, those who elected to run the risk would prove that
they supported the project in a generous spirit. There would
be no looking back then and no squealing if the money should be
lost, which had been honourably risked with open eyes.
A new check system commenced on June 13th, and was found to
promise well. The meat department made sales in the June
period of £13,375, and a profit of £1,085.
In the December half year a grant was made to the Dewsbury
Congress Fund of £50. In the distribution of profits (£31,141)
in the June half there is a new item seen for the first
time—"Educational purposes as per rule," £233. 11s. 1d. The
very fractions of so wholesome an item (usually omitted in this
narrative) deserve to be recorded here. The very penny is
precious considering its uses.
In the 81st half-yearly balance sheet for December the
profits were declared to be £32,835, of which £246. 5s. 4d. was
accorded for educational purposes, making a total of £479. 16s. 5d.
"Forty years" is a favourite period in the Leeds mind.
The Benyon Mill men had it. Now the Society has walked forty
years in the wilderness where no manna of knowledge is, save in
tardy doles. How is it, the reader may ask, that members of
the Society are not more prompt to sustain the co-operative ideal?
However admirably the leaders may desire to advance it, they can go
no further than the majority of the Society will permit them.
Even the greatest general—whether Napoleon, Wellington, or Wolseley—cannot
advance more quickly than their commissariat can keep up with them.
The provisions of an army must always accompany it. Now the
votes of members in meeting assembled are the commissariat, without
which no directors, however able, can adopt measures which the
honour of the cause and the interest of the Society require.
This is why a fixed provision of an Intelligence Fund (otherwise
called an "Educational Fund") is an essential to great co-operative
This year was published in the Record the position of
the Society as per annual return made to the Registrar, and its
business and gains during forty years.
… … … … … … … … … … …
… … … … … … … … … … …
… … … … … … … … … … … …
land, buildings, and fixed stock
goods sold for 1887 … …
… … … …
after allowing 10,075 for interest
upon capital, and £8,023 for
fixed stock and property
… … … … … …
turnover of the Society from its
… … … … … … … …
from its commencement… … … …
This is a splendid record of what has been accomplished by
union, good sense, and pertinacity.
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
ABOUT this time
Mr. Sam Bamford delivered an elucidatory lecture in the People's
Hall on the Two Schools in co-operation, and said the "full dawn of
a brighter day was coming up the steep of time." A pretty
figure of speech. The Leeds Society has begun to see that
Continuity of years bring an era of comparison. In the
race of progress, Leeds has outrun Rochdale now.
In 1867 the turnover of the Rochdale Society was £233,944,
while the Leeds turnover in 1866 was £85,068. The comparison
was against Leeds then. In 1886 the Rochdale Society did a
business of £216,000, while the Leeds Society did one of £480,000,
or £220,000 ahead of Rochdale. In all the earlier years of the
Society the progress of Rochdale was of the nature of an inspiration
to be imitated, if possible. No one imagined then the day
would come when Leeds would surpass it in this striking way.
The regretted death of Mr. John Teasdill is recorded (manager
of the building department), whose devotion to the work and interest
of the Society rendered him a valuable servant.
The directors have decided to abolish the quarterly
stocktaking in flour, grocery, and bakery departments, as the
objects for which these stocktakings were instituted could be
obtained by less laborious but equally effectual means. Leeds
excels in business devices. This last would be of service in
some societies which do not always know exactly where they are when
they have taken stock.
Mr. Fawcett and Mr. Whalley presented to Mr. J. Prentis, on
behalf of the employees, a purse of £30 in gold. Mr. Prentis
had then reached his 79th year. There could be no doubt of the
genuine regard entertained for Mr. Prentis, and the presentation was
a timely spontaneous and graceful gift,
Mr. Joseph Greenwood came Leeds way and delivered before the
members the romantic history of Hebden Bridge Fustian Society, quite
as strange and inspiring as the story of Rochdale. Leeds has
always lent a willing ear to narratives of self-helping progress,
and in the annals of co-operative workshops, Hebden Bridge stands
first in England.
On the question of joining the Wholesale, which was again
discussed, it was urged that some financial consideration had to be
taken into account, since, owing to the dimensions of the Society,
it involved the locking up of £12,000. When the debate came on
it was said that the £12,000 invested would bring 5 per cent, while
the Society had large sums at the bank at 2½per
cent. But if anything went wrong they would be liable for the
loss of £12,000. The motion to join the Wholesale was defeated
by a majority of one.
In view of the large amount of surplus capital from the
accumulated profits of the half year, the directors have decided to
lend money on mortgage security of freehold, cottage, or other
approved property, at 4 per cent, repayable at six months' notice.
There occur cordial meetings between employer and employed in
Leeds. Some time ago the directors entertained 800. This
year 1,100 were gratified with a soirée,
which only ended at midnight. The pleasantest features of
co-operation are its amenities to labour.
The meat department showed an increase at the end of June of
£5,989 over the corresponding half of last year. Meat seems
going up; but, ever fluctuating, it showed at the end of December a
decrease in profit of £292, although there is an increase in the
sales of £6,737.
Good results have been obtained in the boot factory, 16,720
pairs of boots having been made during the half year. A
brush-making business has been commenced, with good prospects of
success. Owing to the good business judgment in which new
projects are carried out in Leeds they commonly succeed.
Reports published of the attendance of directors show their
assiduity. In the December half year of 1888 the president's
(Mr. Joseph Dockray) attendance is 96. The attendance of other
directors only vary from 51 to 58.
The sales in the June period amounted to £272,470, being an
increase of nearly £10,811 over the same period last year.
In the December half year the sales amounted to £287,340, an
increase of nearly £23,000 over the same period of last year, the
profits for this half year being nearly £37,000. The total
sales for the year have been £559,811, and the net profits £71,108.
The amount recorded for educational purposes, as per rule, during
the June half year is £256; in the December period it is £277,
making £533 for the year.
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.
A PLUM has a
skin, though very thin, wonderfully strong, which will resist the
action of water and many solvents. There are many minds of
this description in every city. The plum will resist the knife
unless it be quite sharp. So it is with many understandings.
They are impervious, except to quick penetrating facts. In
this history there are facts of every order of saliency, which, when
they shall come under public consideration, there can hardly be any
density of mental epiderm which some of them will not penetrate.
Now and then it is effective to sum up, in some pointed way, the
advantages of a new system of association and business, which any
one can verify for himself, and which are open to all the city.
Mr. Leach did this in 1889 in a most useful speech. He set
forth nine things in which co-operation had benefited the working
people of Leeds.
1st. Co-operation in Leeds has made it possible for working men to
obtain pure food at fair
2nd. It has taught the advantages of cash payments over credit.
3rd. It has given working men a knowledge of business they could
not otherwise have
4th. It has enabled them to carry on a trade of £500,000 a year.
5th. It has made them joint proprietors of freehold property
amounting to upwards of
6th. It has secured them an annual net profit of £70,000.
7th. It has raised many a man's wages two or three shillings a week.
8th. It has relieved more distress than any other social
9th. The Leeds Society has divided among its members, or credited
to their account,
as share capital, during the last two years,
There is no resisting power in the ordinary plum mind which
may not be penetrated by one or other of these nine facts.
Amid all the popular associations of the time, it is only a
co-operative society which can confer advantages like those
enumerated upon its neighbours.
The Women's Guild commenced in Leeds, March, 1889, in
consequence of a lecture by Miss Reddish. Until John Stuart
Mill's days there was no clear consciousness in the public mind that
the best half of the social force of the world was lying practically
unused. Women had activity and influence, but they had no
civil, political, or social self-assertion, and if they attempted it
they were offensively rebuked. Co-operation was always just to
them, and gave wives property before the law conceded it. Yet
it was not until after forty years of co-operation that it occurred
to the Society that the enthusiasm and wit, in which Leeds women
excel, was an available force on the side of social progress.
In a board school half the pupils are girls, and no one can look
after their interests like women. Men have neither the
delicacy, the discernment, nor the knowledge necessary. In a
co-operative society, where half the members are women, the same
thing is true. Reports now constantly appear of the
proceedings of the Women's Guild, and reports of their visits to
various stores, which they assist by their wisdom, extend by their
enthusiasm, and enliven by their songs and recitations. The
branches of the Women's Guild in Leeds have only grown to nine.
The stores with which they are connected deserve to be enumerated.
They are Albion Street, Bramley, Delph Lane, Farnley, Haslet,
Newtown, Rothwell, Stourton, and Bank. The number of Guild
members to be recorded in 1897 will be 250.
The Educational Committee put down profit-sharing as one of
the subjects it suggested for discussion. Mr. Fawcett,
speaking at Rothwell, said: "Co-operation rested on the conviction
that labour did not receive a fair and equitable share of what it
was so instrumental in producing. Co-operation sought by
justifiable means to bring about a better state of things, teaching
working men how to acquire capital for themselves, to conduct large
businesses, and thereby participate in the profits of trade."
Additional branches have been opened at Bromley and Whingate
Road for the sale of meat. There are prospects now of making
this reluctant and intermittent department prosperous and permanent,
since land for an abattoir has been purchased in Gelderd Road.
Tenders for the principal works required have been let, and the
erection of the buildings, including those of a grocery store and
meat shop near at hand, are now in progress. A block of
cottages has been erected in Linden Street and Linden Avenue, on the
Dewsbury Road estate, and plans are being prepared for another block
to front into Crossland Terrace. Extensions are the order of
the day. Last year was occupied in completing the various
erections in hand. Now all is movement again.
The brush sales for the June half of this year are £726.
Larger premises are now wanted for the brush factory. At the
solicitation of local committees additional premises have been
opened and rented at Idle, where the activity of co-operators quite
contradict the lazy name of their town.
It appears from this December report that members are
reluctant to have their savings returned to them. There is an
increase of £2,224 in the Loan Account, some members preferring to
transfer their surplus shares to this account instead of withdrawing
their money altogether. We find a special meeting has resolved
that the maximum amount each member may hold has been reduced to
£75—calculated to decrease the share capital by about £18,000.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Society was again embarrassed
by a Budget surplus, and having no army or navy in which he could
engulf it, he was under the necessity of returning it to the
members. Working men never involved themselves in such
distressing difficulties before co-operation began.
The items always of cardinal interest in affairs of a store
are sales and profit. The sales for the June half year were
£314,236, and the profits £36,608. The sales for the December
half year (embracing 27 weeks) were £324,986. The profits
amount to £41,533. The members now stand at 26,348, an
increase for the year of 1,130.
The award for "educational purposes as per rule" in the June
half year was £274. 11s. 4d. In the December half year it was
£311. 19s. 11d., which make the improving sum of £586 for the year.
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
THIS is the year
of the Abattoir, not so musical, but a more blessed word than
Mesopotamia. True, the oriental term "Mesopotamia" sounds like a
charm. But the French word Abattoir saves writing the word of
horror, "slaughter-house," which belongs to war. The death of
animals is not brought about by malignity, but from a sense of
necessity. Once and once only, now eleven years ago, a correspondent
of the Record signing himself a "Carnivorous Co-operator" (a
voracious name) spoke of a "meat business." My scruples, which go
farther back, were shared by the "Carnivorous Co-operator."
In February, 1890, Mr. John Leach, one of the directors, laid the
corner stone of the abattoir or meat-preparing house in the Gelderd
Road. Mr. Philemon Rump said the cost, including the site, would
probably be £12,000. It was said "it would be a red letter day." No
doubt it would be for the cattle. It had often been predicted that
the opening of the meat department would be distinguished by
success. This time it has come true. Mr. Leach was presented with a
handsome timepiece and a writing desk, and a tea and coffee service
were given to Mrs. Leach.
The new abattoir for converting cattle into meat was formally opened
for business on October 18th, 1890. Considering how often this
trade, had been attempted and how swiftly it had failed, it shows
pertinacity and pluck to study, during so many years, the conditions
of success and then try again when the conditions were mastered.
There is no finer building (though Barnsley has a good one) in all
co-operative England than the abattoir of Leeds. Indeed so lofty, so
spacious, so clean, so complete and convenient, are all the
processes that animals, had they taste and public spirit, might be
proud to end their days in such a handsome hall. The reader sees its
exterior in the adjoining plate, which shows the extent of the
place. If the plate could show the interior it would excite
The sales for this year were £65,104. 17s. 92½d., being an
increase of £17,894 over the previous twelve months, or an average
weekly increase of £344. 2s. 7d. During these twelve months the
abattoir dealt with 1,846 beasts weighing 99,915 stones, 4,151 sheep
weighing 310,504 lbs., 845 pigs weighing 8,111 stones, besides a
large number of lambs and calves. From the pork department there
were sent out 109,562 lbs. of sausages, 17,820 lbs. of polony,
20,164 lbs. of potted meat, and 3,972 lbs. of German sausage. A
tripe business has been commenced of which about 600 lbs. are sold
weekly. At last meat selling is fairly on the march, and during the
last half year £3,842 of profit has been realised.
The Leeds Women's Guild make reports denoting their wholesome
activity. They have established a class for dress-cutting, two
classes for cookery (the teachers being from the Yorkshire School of
Cookery), and one for clear starching, by a lady from the same
A fire again occurred in the corn mill, by the explosion of one of
the exhausts, in September, 1890. The mill was
running at the time, and the fire was suppressed by the Society's
own fire brigade. Possibly the town firemen were now better
instructed than formerly. However, the mill authorities were shy of
New purifying machines were put to work in the mill calculated to
produce flour of superior colour.
New premises are to be purchased in Albion Street in connection with
the extension of the Central Stores. One hundred shares have been
purchased under special circumstances in the Heckmondwike
Manufacturing Company. Important alterations have been made in the
People's Hall with a view to obtain a music license.
Enterprise is now always in the air. Sites for new stores and a
number of dwelling-houses have been secured in Roundhay Road and
Back Lane, Bramley. A valuable property has also been purchased in
Meadow Road for the purpose of effecting much-needed extensions in
connection with the building and other departments. Unclaimed shares
amounting to £1,047, representing 376 accounts, have been written
off and added to the Reserve Fund. Members seem to become rich and
not to know it, or not to care about it.
The sales up to June were £338,054, the profits £42,845. We have now
reached the eighty-seventh half-yearly report, which is the one for
the December period. It gives the sales at £354,381, which show an
increase since December of last year of £29,395. The profits
available for distribution are £47,510. The award for "educational
purposes" was in June £313. The award for December was £350, making
£663 for the year. It is pleasant to end a year with this item of
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
AS our chronicle
proceeds the reader will begin to feel a lack of the vivacity of
vicissitude. Moralists never cease warning mankind against the
satiety of prosperity. But human experience shows there is no
satiety men enjoy so much. Our narrative now enters upon the
concluding years of the Society's half century, everyone being
surcharged by the delightful monotony of success, of which no man or
reader ever complains, however much he thinks he loves variety.
New departments or new pursuits appear above ground,
gratifying to the social economist just as new flowers delight the
eye of the botanical explorer in an unfrequented land. A Field
Club is one of the fascinating pursuits of studious and adventurous
The Women's Guild comes frequently before the readers of the
Record, always engaged in some new activity for the service
of co-operation. It makes all the difference in the world to
the prosperity of a store where women are the discouraging or the
encouraging co-operative force in the household.
One exception occurs to the uniformity of good fortune.
Owing to failing health Mr. A. Hunn has been obliged to resign the
managership of the coal department after 23½
years' service. Mention has been made of his ability and
suggestiveness. The Society received his resignation with real
regret. Mr. B. Bickerdike, from the office department, was
appointed to succeed him.
As participation of profit with those who can greatly
contribute to produce it, has often been in the minds of directors
and committees, the Record quotes an official opinion upon it.
In his report to the Board of Trade on "Profit-Sharing," Mr. J.
Lowry Whittle says, 'Those employers who have tried it group its
advantages under five heads, namely (1) reduction of waste of
material, (2) superior excellence in the work done, (3) diminished
expense of superintendence, (4) greater stability in the staff and
consequential reduction of risk in commercial enterprises, (5)
increase of practical information connected with the business, the
workers being stimulated to aid the managing staff with suggestions
as to improvements and information as to new processes.' We cite
this passage on profit-sharing because co-operators have made it
from the beginning an integral part of their system.
With a view to find a safe investment for increasing capital, a
joiners' workshop is being erected. There is industrial animation of
the adjoining scene of the building department in Meadow Road,
purchased this year. The hands employed include bricklayers, masons,
joiners, plumbers, and labourers to the number of 135. The plate
relates to the building department, and presents a clever
arrangement of the stores and persons and carrying appliances of the
works. The joiners' workshops in another place have every
convenience of spaciousness.
A plot of land containing about 14,000 square yards, known as the
Cricket Field, Hall Lane, Armley, has been purchased for the
erection of block cottages. A site for a store has been bought in Brudenell Grove and property in Church Street, Hunslet. The purchase
of Camp Field Mill has been completed, and the mill let to a tenant
on a fourteen years' lease. Memorial stones were laid in Elford
Grove, Roundhay Road, where ten through houses are being erected,
and another stone laid in Elder Road, Bramley.
The balance sheets from 1858 to 1874 were on small octavo sheets. Since 1876 they have occupied large foolscap sheets. They often
contain now "Comparisons" of six years of balance sheets showing
the varying, increasing, or decreasing amounts if they occur, in
some shy laggard department. The general results are ever
accelerated advancement. The "comparison" section now referred to
shows turnover, profits, share capital, number of members, bags of
flour delivered, number of members bringing in checks. A most useful
comparative table—thus giving information and inferential
suggestions to members.
The profit of the June half year is £50,314, an increase of £8,469
compared with the same period of last year.
As there was £1,000 of undivided profit brought into this
half-year's account the amount of profit available for distribution
was £51,314; as the Reserve Fund now stands at £17,619, it was
thought advisable to transfer £5,000 to the Insurance Fund, through
which a considerable amount of the Society's own property is now
The award to education for the June half year was £377, for the
December period £378, making £755, which would perturb certain
tumultuous meetings of a former day.
The December report is the 89th laid before members and it shows a
profit of £50,489, making a total profit for the year of £100,804,
which would astonish even that enthusiastic prophet John Holmes.
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.
A SMALL leak will
sink a great ship—a maxim well worth bearing in mind in the
management of great concerns. Manifestly, there is no leak in
the Leeds ship, for its sailing capacity continues unimpaired, and
it arrives at half-a-dozen new ports every year, buoyantly carrying
annually a larger cargo of profits. The Leeds vessel was
constructed to carry any amount of tonnage in the way of dividends,
but nobody save a few enthusiasts ever thought it would have much to
do to test its carrying powers.
The reader has seen the amazing manufacture always going on
in the abattoir. It would feed the whole kingdom of an average
monarch. A great general taking the field would be glad to
engage the Leeds Society to provide his commissariat. Meat
branches are now opened in Armley, Burley-in-Wharfedale, Stourton,
and Beckett Street, making the meat shops thirty-five at the end of
June. These shops are really pleasant to enter. They
have an abundance of light, air, ventilation, and are as clean as
white enamelled tiles and marble can make them.
Co-operative farming is, early in the year, the subject of a
very exhaustive paper of information, signed by Mr. Leach
(president) and others, on the position, experience, success or
non-success of the principal co-operative societies in England.
The statement was laid before the Quarterly Conference.
Farming is like meat selling. It needs the energy and
perseverance of a Society like this of Leeds to discover the
conditions of prosperity in dealing with the caprices of land and
the irresponsible skiey influences to which it is subject.
In March a special meeting was called on Co-operative
Farming. It appeared that within the last twelve months the
business of the Society was over £800,000, and the profits had
increased nearly £10,000. This looked as if the Society could afford
to increase its departments by a good farm, but it became a reason
for proposing that such an enterprise was "inopportune" (a favourite
word, as we have seen, in Leeds resolutions). Again it carried the
day. However, the question of the Society taking a farm was decided
in an entirely different way while the discussion was proceeding.
Without waiting for the reconcilement of theoretical views on
farming in general, Mr. Dean, manager of the abattoir, finds a farm
is necessary in practice, and a farm was purchased in October, 1892,
as an accommodation to the meat-making department for grazing
purposes. It contains about 74 acres of land, and is situated at Farnley, about three miles from Leeds. Its cost was
£3,948. Meat-selling and farming have been the two cardinal difficulties of
co-operative societies. Meat-selling has been solved, and so will
farming be eventually.
The affairs of the Society were subject to an amount of criticism
greater than the president had known before. The prosperity of the
Society was such that it could very well bear any amount of
criticism now, and take time to consider any wisdom to be got out of
In a discussion of the new education rate, Mr. Minnithorpe stated
that the rule was agreed to with the understanding that the cost of
tea meetings, the Co-operative News, and Record, should come out of
that fund. There was no harm in that. It was good to have a
permanent fund out of which such useful costs could come.
Old salutary topics still ran in the minds of such prosperous
members, who still thought profit could be made by equity to labour. A remarkable illustration was given in the
Record that the business
would well bear such a change and be the more profitable for it. The
instance was the balance sheet of Brunner, Mond, and Co., alkali
manufacturers, of Northwich, which showed a dividend of 50 per cent,
in addition to £50,000 carried to their reserve fund and £36,000
carried forward. Yet there was no share accorded to labour, though
the frightful condition of the working people was well known. Profit-sharing does not depend upon prosperity. The sense of equity
is in the mind—not in the pocket. To accord to others what belongs
to them and which can be withheld with impunity for the advantage of
somebody else, implies, as the Scotch Solicitor-General said of Home
Rule, "A new sense."
The subject of joining the Wholesale again recurs. Mr. Fawcett
stated it had been many times before the members during the past
twenty years. The directors, in their official capacity, had never
thought it consistent with their duty (as in other matters) to
recommend the members to join, otherwise the Society might have been
connected with the Wholesale years ago. Between 1870 and 1880 many
speeches were delivered upon the subject. In 1881, a report very
much in favour of joining produced only a majority of six votes. In
1886, the Wholesale held a conference in Leeds in favour of itself,
when Mr. Jones (chairman of the grocery committee) said it was not
their interest, and therefore not their duty to join it. Many
people, besides Mr. Jones, consider that interest is the measure of
duty. However, it is a merit of Leeds decisions that the for and the
against of any question is usually set forth fairly.
One objection urged against joining the Wholesale was that no one
knew if it was really solvent, through the habit of mixing the
surpluses of the banking and trading accounts together. Mr. Brodrick
replied that solvency could be together. The question turns on
principle as well as interest. Clear issues seem not to be tendered,
and the Leeds Society, like Hamlet, have not solved the problem "To
be or not to be." The purchases from the Wholesale, without joining it, were for the half year (December) £16,967.
The importation of eggs and yeast has commenced. A memorial stone
was laid in Brudenell Grove—another at Garforth. A coal deport was
opened at Guiseley. Something new is being opened everywhere.
The joinery and building departments continue to expand and now
employ 135 persons. New stores are opened in Elder Road, Bramley;
and one of mark in Elford Grove, Roundhay Road, was opened on the
14th day of April. The store itself is an imposing and handsome
structure, as the reader will see for himself in the plate annexed. You may read of Park Buildings, or of Field Place, where no vestage
of park or field is to be seen; but the Elford Store stands in
grove-land—vistas of vernal beauty lie around it; and the spiral
store adds commercial beauty to the place.
The growing trade of Strawberry House obliged a new store to be
planned. The boot factory finds employment for 117 workpeople, and
has made this half year 23,434 pairs, and repaired 14,229.
The present number of members (despite hundreds struck off) is
The sales of the June half year were £46,123 more than a year ago. The profits for this half year reach £53,712.
The net profits for the December half year proved to be £55,475,
making for the year upwards of £109,000.
In June, education has an award of £402; in December, it is £416,
making a hopeful total of £818 for the year. Profits go up by leaps
and bounds, to use a memorable Budget phrase, and nobody complains
of the irregularity.