Thursday, August 30, 2012

Household Hints

Couldn't resist posting this. It's the simple appealing artwork in two colours. Putting a blue frock on a blue background and still achieving depth says something about how our brains interpret two dimensions.

The handy booklet for the home was issued by the Co-operative Wholesale Society around 1937. It has 50 pages and 16.5 cms x 10 cms ( 6.5 x 4 inches in size).

Obviously aimed at the busy female homemaker who spends her day in an apron and a neckerchief that wouldn't look out of place at a Soviet young pioneers meeting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Another Flood Picture

It's still raining as I type. Why not find another old flood photograph? It reminds us that flooding of the Chorlton will never be this bad again. This is one from August 1922 shewing the flood water from the River Mersey is covering the fields. I've looked for a pattern in which months had the heaviest rains to cause flooding. August features many times. So much for those halcyon glorious summers of the past. But it could easily be April, June or November. An earlier post had a picture from flooding in February 1923 which is a mere six months after this summer flooding.

Upstream from Chorlton is Northenden (a village called Northen before the 20th Century) and this story of the Mersey flooding over the years is reported in The Manchester Examiner Saturday 19th June 1847.

 "I examined the records upon a wooden post in the kitchen of the Boat House of the highest Mersey's floods since 1799. In that year the water was a yard deep in the kitchen. It was four feet six inches deep in 1840, the highest mark on the post; it was three feet and some inches on the 21st December 1837; it was three feet and some inches on the 31st August 1833. 1845 and 1828 were both years of record in the Boat House kitchen."

The rain continues to fall but at least the kitchen is dry.....

Monday, August 27, 2012

Co-op Pageant 1944

Pageant Pioneers Co-op 1944
The costume drama has always been popular in the theatre and films. Especially anything Victorian. The old Queen may have just past over in 1901 but the early cinema pioneers were shooting one reel silent movies of scenes from Dickens novels.

In 1944 the Co-operative Movement celebrated its Centenary of the Rochdale Pioneers. Given that there was a major war in progress and a shortage of materials they did a good job with events, plays, and a film. The photograph is from the Co-operative Pageant at Wembley Stadium. A group of fine young fellows are representing the Rochale Pioneers. All top hats and sideburns. Very unlikely to be historically accurate of weavers in a Lancashire industrial town. But doesn't costume drama reflect more of our own times, its values, myths and cliches?

 The display advertisement is from the Manchester Guardian in July 1944. It's on the front page, because back then the broadsheets had eight columns of typeset adverts from the personal to the latest at the cinema showings, and no sensational headlines. Lawrence du Garde Peach wrote the drama. He was a prolific writer of screenplays, theatre plays, and Ladybird books. He'd be 54 when this production was staged. Not only was it performed in Manchester it was acted out in at least another 150 locations in Britain by co-operative societies drama groups. I must try and obtain a copy of it.

Six Manchester Co-operative societies were in the performances staged at the Opera House : Manchester & Salford, Beswick, Pendleton, Failsworth, Droylsden and Blackley. They told a story of not just the Pioneers but their historical influences. The American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the Luddites, and the Chartists. It ended with the singing of "Jerusalem".

If you were dramatising the Pioneers story today it would have different historical "facts" that reflect today's hindsight. We will see this in a few months when the new remake of "Men of Rochdale" is released and we can contrast it with original 1944 film.

One a side note, the advert has John Gielgud doing five nights of "Hamlet" in the next week. A warm up before the bright lights of the West End. Maybe it wasn't so bright because of the blackout and the danger of being hit by a V2 rocket?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

CWS Puzzled

CWS Metal Puzzle
Picked this intriguing item the other day. Obviously the initials CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) took my interest. Approximately 7cm x 3cm x 0.4cm thick. It's metal, possibly steel and weighs 24 grams. Embossed into it are the words "For Quality", "Reg. Des", and "789052".

So what is it? Is it part of something larger? Puzzled, I soon found the answer. Registered Design 789052 is from 1934. It is part of a tanglement puzzle. You need at least two pieces in a puzzle and you have to separate them. It usually wastes a lot of your time to solve. Then you have to put it back together. Unfortunately the last time this puzzle was solved the other piece which was a tiny horseshoe got lost. It'll never be solved again. The chances of finding the other piece is a bit slim.

You can read all about Tanglement Puzzles, and see hundreds of photographs of them at Rob's Puzzle Page. In there is the puzzle itself, complete with the other part. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Polish of Empire

I was bidding for this vintage 1930's booklet. It had flags and maps of the British Empire. In the end I came to my sober senses and stopped. What was I going to do after skimming through 30 pages. Why, it would be more clutter in the home? How much to do want to spend on ephemera.

The first factory in Pelaw opened in 1902, and expanded to make a massive range of goods. Not just polishes. Bedding, clothing, furniture, drysaltery, leather goods and saddles, packing, preserves, printing, quilts, scales, shirts and vinegar. That's a big workforce. Long gone now.

I well remember the black shoe polish. It came in a red tin with a picture of a seal on it, that's the animal that swims in the cold seas. Many years later I visited to Newcastle and heard the correct pronunciation of Pelaw not how we'd been saying it for years. Sounds like Pilau as in the rice dish.

Back to the Empire days. Polishing was a big activity. You had to have shiny shoes, a shiny floor, gleaming brass work, spotless cutlery. Everything got dirty from the coal fired domestic life and industrial chimneys. The metals tarnished and oxidized. Today we use different materials that don't require as much polish. The towns are smokeless zones and a lot of modern everyday footwear would be ruined by shoe polish.

Related posts in this series :
Foods of the Empire

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tram Bridge Over the Mersey

New tram bridge Mersey
In four years time trams will be thundering over this bridge over the River Mersey. From road speed, that's slow, down Hardy Lane onto the Meadows and up the ramp and down again. This was the picture yesterday. No work was being done but the clatter of construction could be hear from further down the proposed line. Only a few hundred metres from the sedate footbridge at Jackson's Boat.

Other pictures

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Factory in Lowestoft

Had a 15 minute wait at the parcel office before I could collect my purchase. It's been around a few years and fortunately it is still in print. Wasn't disappointed. What are we writing about? A book called "Co-operative Pride and Capability Co-operative Wholesale Society - Canning and Preserved Food Factories - Lowestoft".

Crisp colour plates, a short accurate history, interviews with those who worked there, lots of memorabilia and old advertisements. It is a niche history but it is put into context of the national picture of CWS factories. They were ultimately sold on to other companies. Who then closed them down and sold the land off.

Well might have gone to rubble but at least we have this treasure and it is the pictures that make it. Now when you see photographs from the different eras you can usually date them from the black and white tones, and the camera lens used as Edwardian or 1920's, 40's etc. Well you can if you've seen enough archive material. So the 1989 colour views looked dated as well. Those distinctive colours of the film shot on 35mm stock. A better expert than me could probably hazard a guess at which film was used to take the photographs. You can recreate them with digital images and some editing software. Well sort of but not quite.

So after a browse it now sits out on the table for visitors and myself to dip into nostalgia for the Waveney Brand of tinned goods that used to be available in co-operative stores.

All the details are here at Coastal Publications. I purchased it direct from them because it works out a little cheaper than from that well known online bookseller, plus they will keep a bigger share of the money. For we need people to keep publishing niche history, it makes some of us happy.

The East Anglia Film Archive have some short videos available online. It's In The Can made in 1961, colour with sound is a CWS Promotional Film for Waveney tinned foods. Co-Op and Labour Fete 1930, black and white, silent is some great amateur footage captured in Ipswich.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Left Book Club Edition

I bet somewhere in Britain there is a room that has every Left Book Club publication on the shelves. The red hardback editions (1938-1948), and I have just one, and an obscure one at that. "The Smaller Democracies" 1939 by Sir Ernest Simon. Only picked it up 'cos he lived in Didsbury and a former Liberal MP for this constituency. Also a softback edition in orange (1936-1938) called "Spanish Testament" by Arthur Koestler. Original prices were 2/6d (12.5p)

This brings us on to “The Co-operative Movement in Labour Britain,” edited for the Fabian Society by Noah Barou, Ph.D. (Econ.) and published by Victor Gollancz Ltd., of London, for the Left Book Club in 1948. It's just an excuse to find a Left Book Club and a Co-Op connection.

The heydays of the Left Book Club are from its formation in 1936 and into the WWII. Unashamedly left leaning propaganda. Well you weren't going to find that "Bolshie" talk on the BBC Home Service or printed in the bourgeoisie press. Nor where you going to find them officially supported at Labour Party meetings. It was seen as a "popular front" organisation and that meant the Communist Party members would be involve. I have yet to find any local Co-Operative Guild or Co-Op Party meetings about the Left Book Club, though that doesn't mean there weren't any. There were Left Book Discussion meetings in Chorlton before WWII but not at Hardy Lane.

Not read this book as I don't have a copy nor is available online. But I'm almost tempted to obtain a second hand copy out of curiosity. Dr. N. Barou also wrote about "Co-operation in the Soviet Union" 1946, "British Trade Unions" 1947, and "Co-operative Insurance" 1936, "World Co-operation 1844-1944", plus numerous other books. Even more curious after having read Noah Barou's obituary - born 23 November 1889 Poltava, Ukraine died 5th September 1955 in London....exiled by the Tsarist regime, spoke at meetings with Trotsky, and head of the Moscow Narodny Bank in London. Though he's best remembered for his tireless work for the Jewish World Congress.

Note the "Not For Sale To The Public" on the front cover. This was part of the agreement with the Booksellers Association and the Publishers Association which regulated how the way Book Clubs operated. The Left Book Club was the most successful of the 1930's political book clubs. The others Labour Book Service, Liberal Book Club and Right Book Club published titles too.

Year ago there was a second hand bookshop on Beech Road in Chorlton and they had a lot of those thin hardback Left Book Club editions. But harder to find now. If you interested try Abe Books to find second hand books and their sellers online.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

New Tea Warehouse

Follwing on from yesterday's post Teas of Empire II..... Tea was a joint venture by both wholesale societies. The adverts often used a heralding trumpet figure who wears an outfit just stepped out from an Alice in Wonderland story. Better pictures reveal that he has the wheatsheaf symbol on that quartered costume. I bet the image on the dark quarters is the logo of the Scottish CWS.

There is a certain irony in that there is also an illustration of the Cutty Sark. The famous tea clipper, though she spent more years carrying wool from Australia to Britain, has defied all odds and is preserved, and restored after the fire of 2007. It's at Greenwich in London. In 1930 she was anchored in Falmouth harbour having retired from sailing. However the massive tea warehouse in Salford mentioned in the text has not been was demolished some years back. As for the SS Makalla she's gone too.

The SS Makalla, 6,677 tons, was built in Port Glasgow in 1918 and sunk in the Moray Firth by German aircraft in August 1940. She was sailing in convoy. Part of the Anchor Brocklebank Line she made regular trips to India and back to North West England ports loaded with tea. Besides cargoes for the E&CWS she carried tea for the rival and well known Mazawatti Tea Company. I love that name Mazawatti. Pioneers in advertising, they refused to sell tea to multiples and co-op societies and only traded with independent grocers.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Teas of Empire II

There used to be a massive tea warehouse on the Salford side of the Ship Canal. It was opposite the Pomona Docks, the original small docks at the start of the canal. I've never been sure at what point the canal starts and the River Irwell ends.

The most striking aspect of the building was the huge neon sign of a big teapot being filled with tea leaves by a lady standing on a tall stool. The bright light of the wording said the slogan "Filling the Nation's Teapot". Well this is how I remember it in a strong red colour. Now demolished. Still trying to find a good photograph of the building.

This display advert is from 1930 and like most of that time used line drawings.

Note it is only tea from the English & Scottish CWS plantations in India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). It is loose leaf tea in 4 oz (about 113 gms) packets.

Seventy odd years later we can buy Fairtrade tea, most is consumed by using tea bags, and it comes from plantations not owned by The Co-Operative being blends from East Africa, India and Sri Lanka.

You can email : coop AT with any information that will help in the making of this history.