Friday, September 28, 2012

Flooded fields Chorlton 2012

Flooded path
The River Mersey might not have flooded the fields in Chorlton for a very long time. But the heavy recent rains have made paths across the Meadows walkable only in wellington boots. Well you could wade through in regular footware and dry them later.

The picture shews the path from Brookburn Road out towards Jackson's Boat. It looks like a muddy stream. I was out collecting kindling just like local people would have done centuries ago. There is plenty of it about. Didn't get very far, and beyond the water covered path are the soggy ponds on the open grounds.

These days people buy kindling wood to create a fire. It's cleaner and quicker. I much prefer the cheaper and traditional option. I don't know the legal position on collecting fallen twigs and branches. It is probably not allowed without permission or a licence. Removing whole trees might be taken seriously by someone in authority or the land owner.

When the rains cease, and the paths dry out, which they will then I can continue the walk across to Jackson's Boat.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Co-operative Graphic Novel

As it is International Year of Co-operatives a graphic novel has been, or is about to be released with the title being "The Co-operative Revolution". I've just acquired it, so am still reading it. The thing with graphic novels is you want to dwell over the pages and take in the artwork. Try to spot any quirky little doodles in the frames. "This graphic novel from master artist Polyp illustrates the history and enduring appeal of the co-operative movement" says the press release. It does.
It has four chapters - Yesterday, Today, Always and Tomorrow. Plus you get a potted timeline of events at the end. What you need to know - it starts with the Rochdale Pioneers, it goes into spaceships to Mars. It has 80 pages in colour. Full price £5.99. Published by New Internationalist on behalf of The Co-operative Group. It's the work of Polyp, a charming and amusing chap with a distinctive drawing style. He lives in Manchester. I'm going to enjoy finishing it, just need to make some quiet reading time.

ISBN is 978178026082. More Info here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

John Shillito Medal

When the CWS celebrated its Golden Jubilee, that's 50 years from 1863 to 1913, it issued a medal which is featured here.

It's a relief portrait of John Shillito who was the President of the Co-operative Wholesale Society from 1895 to 1915. It was distributed to each delegate at the CWS shareholders’ meetings in 1913(there would be over 3,000 attending them) and to each of the 21,000 employees of the CWS. There was additional distribution to officials in the retail co-operative societies, so that the total number distributed in 1913 would be around 25,000. The medal is gold colour on bronze and weighs about 19 grams.

On the reverse side there is the logo of the CWS, a wheatsheaf flanked by a t-handle spade and a sickle. The motto is "Labor and Wait". Note the American spelling. There is a story about this logo and motto, and I need to find out more.

At the same time a large casket was issued which featured on it leading figures in the co-operative movement and illustrations of CWS premises. In the casket were samples of a range of CWS products.

John Sillito from Halifax, was then the grand old man of co-operation, he would be 81. When in his 70's he presided at the Co-op Congress at the Corn Exchange, Doncaster in 1903. He also entertained Captain Scott prior to his Antarctic Expedition. Born 19th January 1832. Died 12th February 1915 aged 83. Lived at 4 Park View, Hopwood Lane, Halifax in the year the medal was issued.

You can read about John Sillito's activities in "The Story of the CWS : Jubilee History 1913" it's at - link.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Co-Op Breakfasted

Co-op Breakfasted
Here I was thinking that Baked Beans have got expensive. Leading brands are in the 80p to just over 90p price bracket. They don't want to hit the 99p price point just yet. But in 1930 a 1lb tin of Heinz Baked Beans was advertised at six and a half old pennies - in today's values that's about £1.36.

But can do just as well with an own brand. The factors are the size of the bean and the richness of the sauce. Heinz who have over 100 years of production are the benchmark.

It's the weekend, no rushing to work, have time for a cooked breakfast. What better than baked beans on toasted crumpets. The option is mid-priced Co-op brand baked beans at 49p. But why not jazz up the sauce with some fresh cherry tomatoes, a touch of dried chilli and some black pepper. Warburtons crumpets are nearly always on special offer and work out at 10p each. The complete meal comes in at around 50 pence. It's not a comparison because I already knew what cheaper own brands taste like. But adding your own value with some judious use of other foods and spices takes the dish up a notch.

Hardy Lane Scrapbook does recipes, though you don't need a recipe to rustle up a quick breakfast. More to come with Co-op budget baked beans at a mere 29p. Can they be acceptable at that price?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Old Trams Past Hardy Lane

When the Hardy Lane store opened in 1929 the electric tram network in Manchester was at its high water mark. Most miles of track and most passengers carried. But the improved motor buses and for some routes the trolley bus would be taking over. No sooner had the network expanded and further expansions were planned then the phasing out of trams had started. Nine years later it was the bus nipping down Barlow Moor Road.

I'm not a tramways historian, but like a lot of us trams both old rattler and modern metros are a wonderful means of transport. If I'm in your city I'll be travelling on one just 'cos I can. You forget the bus journey but I recall exploring Ghent, Torino, New Orleans, and Melbourne on rails in the road. My ultimate must try is De Kusttram that runs the length of the sea front of Belgium, all 42 miles or 68 kms....maybe just a section of it.

Trams came to Chorlton in 1907 and just a single track with loops for passing. It was part of the public clamour after Withington UDC amalgamated with Manchester in November 1904. People wanted the benefits of a city which was trams, a library, eventually a swimming baths and a municipal park, and general improvements to roads, street lighting and schools. On Thursday 9th May 1907 an illuminated car heralded that a new service would commence next day. Now I'd always thought that the original terminus was at the top of Beech Road but it wasn't it was at High Lane opposite the church. Even in 1913 the trams stopped there but by that time it was a double line after road widening. It was also where five roads met so complaints about congestion and safety were raised.

If you wanted to go to Hardy Lane, Southern Cemetery and on to West Didsbury a new bus service was introduced in June 1907. Every half hour from 1300 to 2030 hours. The full journey would have been 2p and the half journey up to Christ Church, West Didsbury would have been 1p. Not cheap for an Edwardian single fare.

After the Brookbank bridge over Chorlton Brook was reconstructed and widened in 1911 then the route could have tram tracks south to Southern Cemetery.

There is a lot more to find out, isn't there ever.... After 26 years with horses (1877-1903) and 48 years with electric traction (1901-1949) the old tram era ended . In 1994 the first of the modern era Metrolink service started, in 2012 it reached Chorlton.

Photographs : copy of old postcard of Manchester Corporation tramcars. Aerial view of Barlow Moor Road in 1926. There is Oak House Farm (not Hardy House Farm which I stated incorrectly until the comment below was recived) to the left rear of the large laundry building, and a field in the foreground that became Chorlton Park. Note the two tram lines and poles to carry the wires. Courtesy of Manchester Libraries Image Collection m72048.

Further reading :
Trams Stop Here - a weblog about trams of the world.
Chorlton Trams - on Chorlton History weblog

Friday, September 14, 2012

First M&SE Co-op Premises

M&S Co-op 1859 & 1909 Got lots of photos in the archive, and it's about time some of them were published. The first premises of the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-op were rented at 168 Great Ancoats Street in Manchester in 1859. That's the little building shown as an inset.

The bigger premises are the Central Stores and Head Office on Downing Street, Ardwick and opened in 1864. Obviously the photographs were not snapped in those years, and probably date from around 1909 when the Society celebrated 50 years.

Here's a note about how the meaning of language changes. If you lived in Manchester in the years before the 1960's then M&S would refer to the Manchester & Salford and not Marks & Spencer. That famous company was often referred to as Marks & Sparks. Downing Street would mean the road in Ardwick. It was not used in the media to mean the home of the Prime Minister. They would make reference simply to No.10.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Co-op Party Exhibition

Co-Op Party Exhibition There is a small exhibition of Co-Operative Party material at the People's History Museum.

It is located in the Processional Way, which is to say in a corner on the ground floor. Worth a look before you go to the Demon Drink : Temperance exhibition.

It is on until Monday 5th November, and the museum is open 7 days a week.

"this display examines the story of the Co-operative Party; taking the visitor on a journey from its origins within the co-operative movement to the growing political power of its parliamentary members and the 1927 agreement with the Labour Party." Link.

I took numerous photographs, for this is material that you don't ofter get a chance to see. See Flickr set.

So top marks to the PHM for delving in the archives and giving the memorabilia an airing.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Early Co-operatives Ancoats

Alright it's not Chorlton, we're still in Ancoats in the 1860's which is where the M&SE Co-op Society opened in 1859. Seventy years of expansion later they reached Hardy Lane.

Classified adverts in 19th Century newspapers are full of property transactions and from these you find parcels of land up for sale and how much rent was payable. By order of the trustees under the will of the late James Thompson four lots of property in Salford, Ardwick and Ancoats in Manchester went up for auction in May 1862. One lot took my eye as there was a co-operative store on the land. Also the Indigo Street Independent Chapel, schoolroom, butchers, the Royal Hen & Chickens Brewery and twenty five cottages.  Cottages is describing back to back one up one down small terrace houses. All packed into 1,750 square yards with the River Medlock as the northern boundary. If the census was checked we could find how many souls resided in this block.

It is a small area. A mere 20 per cent of a football pitch, about two penalty areas and the semi-circle in front of it. I've seen plenty of football pitches so have this area of land fixed in my mind - Old Trafford is 1.82 acres and City's pitch 1.84 acres. This plot of land is 0.36 acres. I doubt if there was a tree, garden or blade of grass in sight.

But what was the co-operative store? It wasn't the Equitable Society, and I think it is the Industrial Society. "The society commenced operations on a small scale in 1856, in Bridge Street" - report by Mr. H. R. Bayley the Secretary, at the 7th annual tea party of the Industrial Society at the Free Trade Hall. Can't be sure which Bridge Street in Manchester that was, there were several before streets were renamed in the 1960's to stop confusion with postal addresses. He goes on to say "another store had been erected in Stockport Road during the last year at a cost of £1,020. " - Manchester Courier Wednesday 1st February 1865.

"There was an earlier Manchester and Salford Industrial Society before 1859. It had a shop at 519, Ashton Old Road, Openshaw, and one in Ardwick, with a stone beehive over the door. The beehive was still there in 1878, but over a toffee shop." George Jacob Holyoake in his "History of Co-operation" Chapter 16.

Still can't be absolutely certain. Yet all this is typical of the start of modern consumer co-operation, that began with the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844. On grimy back streets, in sooty industrial cities. All this area has been swept away in slum clearance, the Mancunian Way was built nearby and a small industrial estate put in place.

Photo of Indigo Street, Gable of No. 18, m11739 taken in 1901 courtesey of Manchester City Libraries Image Collection.

Earlier post on Manchester & Salford Industrial Co-op Society - here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pioneers Film 2012

Eagerly awaiting the release of "The Rochdale Pioneers" film. The trailer is online now, and the full release date is expected to be November 2012. But being shown in selected towns in September for Co-operative Members. A

"As part of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy will retell the story of The Rochdale Pioneers. Supported by The Co-operative Group and inspired by the 1944 film 'Men of Rochdale'."

Notice no top hats and massive sideburns in a still photograph taken from the trailer. That's a relief. As I pointed out in previous post - Co-Op Pageant 1944 "doesn't costume drama reflect more of our own times, its values, myths and cliches?
" It has a great picture of chaps dressing up as The Pioneers looking like they are from the cast of "Gone With The Wind" - it was a massive film released in 1939.

The Trailer - on YouTube
The Film - info, news, events.
Facebook page about the film

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Early Manchester Co-operatives

What could have been on the mind of those co-operators starting with a shop on Great Ancoats Street back in 1859 was the number previous ventures in collective enterprise that had struggled in their trading.

We know about these early co-operative stores through the writings of J.M. Ludlow (John Malcolm) who made a tour of Lancashire and Yorkshire in 1850. He was a barrister in London and a central figure in the Christian Socialists. These chaps were inspired by the co-operative producers in France and the Chartists and the most noted of them was Charles Kingsley, who wrote under the pen name of Parson's Lot and became famous with a books called "The Water Babies" and "Alton Locke".

Though J.M.Ludlow favoured producer co-operatives over consumer co-operatives his reports tracked down several Societies retailing in Manchester and Salford. G.D.H. Cole writing "The Century of Co-operation" in 1944 is a touch scathing about him thinking co-operative principles were in a few people making hats together rather than members owning shops and paying dividend.
  • Jersey Street Co-Operative Society, three stores and a bakery in Ancoats.
  • Garrett Road Industrial, a co-operative store in Miles Platting
  • Hudson Street, Salford, a co-operative store
  • Harpurhey, a new co-op society
  • Dyers' Trade Union, two stores, though he disapproved, holding them devoid of true co-operative principles
  • Central Co-operative Agency, a branch at 13 Swan Street.
  • Garden Lane, Salford, a co-op store and manufacturing with looms for some of its members.
There were others. The historian today trawls through online digitized newspapers looking for entries and finds a Chartist Co-operative Store in Hulme, or a case of embezzlement at the Flixton Co-operative and that's a small village west of Manchester near the River Irwell. The young Ludlow would be making enquiries in the terraced house districts of industrial Manchester for a small business run on co-operative principles.

In 1851 there was a Co-operative Conference in Bury in the April with 44 north of England co-ops attending, with 80 delegates, most of them from stores rather than workshops. Later in September there was a meeting of Associative Labour in Manchester with trade unionists, co-operators and sympathisers. The Rochdale Pioneers attended both meetings.

Small organisations only get their history written about if they survive long enough and grow big enough. Who knows anything about the Manchester Equitable Pioneers Co-operative attending the Bury conference? What happened to the Jersey Street Co-operative? Then the oldest in Manchester said their delegate Mr. Knight. "It started by offering 10s. shares (50p) with about 80 or 90 taken up. A capital of £400 and business of £120 weekly."

The success of the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-op wasn't assured when they started in 1859 but would have learnt that lack of capital and not attracting members would mean ultimate demise.

Photograph courtsey of Manchester Libraries Image Collection. It is Jersey Street in 1967, m10166, and looks like it hadn't changed since the start of the century. Don't know which building on Jersey Street was occupied by a co-operative store.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sanatogen Story

Late Sunday afternoon, in the Hardy Lane Co-op for some bits and bats shopping and spotted some Sanatogen wine. It had two faces (that's rows of bottles to you but in grocery school they are called faces 'cos they face the customer. Almost certain these are a new addition, albeit it might be a temporary one.

Tonic wines still enjoy some popularity. Buckfast is the most popular these days but mostly bought by those who want a cheap alcohol and caffeine hit. Wincarnis rarely seen in shops, is still available, and is one from the 19th Century. Originally back in 1881 it had meat extracts in it hence the name literally Wine-Carnis (from Latin for meat).

The display advert is from 1939, which makes it over 70 years old. Not the 50 years old as quoted all over the web. However Sanatogen as a powder in a bottle has been on sale since at least 1904. Sold by chemists a nerve tonic and pick-me-up. The active ingredient is Sodium Glycerophosphate - which in small quantities is reported to have health benefits. Mixing it with fortified British Wine (not English Wine) came later. British Wine is made from imported grape must, or grape juice concentrate and fermented here. It attracted less tax that imported wines from wine producing countries. It was thus cheaper, and its taste appealed to a British palate that liked heavy sweet sherries, ports and ginger wine - QC Cream, Enva Cream Sherry (actually the queen of Cyprus Sherry), and VP Cream are some examples.

Anyway passed on the 15% strength Sanatogen for the time being, and went for the Sainte Martha, a very quaffable Languedoc. A French red is more to my taste and the past purchases haven't failed to please.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


A long time ago there were two co-operative societies in Manchester - the Equitable that eventually came to Chorlton and Hardy Lane, and the Industrial. Whilst the Equitable went onto greater trading the Industrial went into liquidation.....

"The Society was voluntarily wound up and liquidators appointed in September 1870 following meetings of the members at their offices in Upper Medlock Street, Hulme. "
London Gazette 8th October 1870; page 4358

The Industrial was centered in Hulme, a working class district south of the centre of Manchester. In the 1840's it was fields. When Augustus Pugin built a church here 1845 with the Earl of Shrewbury's money, it was known as St. Wilfred's-in-the-fields. Ten years later it is surrounded by dense housing and thousands of inhabitants.

The Industrial started in a small way in 1856, and became an Industrial & Provident Society in 1859 with a capital of just £13, sales of £2,045 and 28 members. Humble and hopeful beginnings that grew to six grocery branches, two draperies and two butchers in 1864. Membership was then around 1,274 and sales were £27,442. Central Stores were on Upper Medlock Street, Hulme. I've been trying to piece together their history from newspaper reports of the annual meetings. Besides speeches from the Mayor of Manchester, and Ernest Jones the noted Chartist, the meetings ended with two hours of dancing. No mention of any alcohol so they might have been 'dry' occasions.

It will take some time to solve why the finances came crashing down. There maybe a clue in a court case at the Manchester County Court : Walker v. M&S Industrial Co-op Society on Wednesday 13th April 1870.  Dr. Richard Pankhurst represented the Society. Much later he married Emmeline Pankhurst, yes the famous suffragette, but she'd only be a 11 year old lass in Moss Side when this case was heard. The plaintiff thought he'd lent money for interest to the society and wanted it back. The society said he was a member and no withdrawals could be made because many other requests were being made to withdraw capital. The case was lost when the judge ruled there was insufficient documentation for him to be a shareholder.

Sales did decline and membership shrunk in 1869, the last year of reported finances...maybe it continued. I'm sure further digging will reveal more and maybe a relevant photograph.

Was there rivalry between the Equitable and the Industrial? Well both operated in different parts of Manchester and the directors of both societies attended each others annual meetings. "Though there might be emulation, there was no opposition; that there was rivalry, but it was devoid of ill-feeling" said the Chairman at the 7th annual soiree as reported by the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser Wednesday 1st February 1865.
The picture above is m77988, courtesy of Manchester Libraries Image Collection and is of Wooden Bridge Street, Hulme in 1909,  Chosen because it has an atmospheric quality.

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