Trade

The Co-operative Movement

Marsden Equitable Industrial Society

Marsden Equitable Industrial Society building c1995

The Co-operative Movement had its origin in Rochdale when a group of 28 weavers, who were subsequently named the Rochdale Pioneers, came together to provide a fair and honest way to sell basic foodstuffs to their fellow workers. In 1844 they rented the ground floor of 31 Toad Lane, Rochdale and furnished the shop with a plank balanced over two barrels. The building is now a museum. From the outset the Pioneers adopted firm business principles based on ethical trading and the belief that the profits of the business should be shared amongst members.

All customers were enrolled as members of this unique organisation and were given a share in the profits in the form of a dividend at the end of the trading year according to how much they had spent on goods during that time. Many people will still remember their grandmother`s ‘divi’ number which they had to give each time they were sent on a shopping errand. Each member had a voice and a role in daily operations. A majority voting system was in place and all members could participate in the decision- making process. Their actions created a revolution in retailing which the Co-operative Movement maintains to this day.

Marden Self Help Co-operative Society on Warehouse Hill

Marden Self Help Co-operative Society on Warehouse Hill
Click to enlarge

The example set in Rochdale resulted in other co-operative societies starting to develop throughout the country based on similar principles. The first Marsden Self Help Co-operative Society shop opened on July 13th 1859 in a small property on Warehouse Hill.

A general meeting on the 1st August 1859 appointed Officers and Trustees. Richard Beaumont was elected President, Thomas Hirst was elected Treasurer and Joseph Helliwell, who worked as a Bookkeeper, was made Secretary and the first Storekeeper. There were a further five committee members, namely David Firth, Samuel Horsfall, Jonathan Lunn, Joseph Sykes and William Firth and three Trustees, George Carter, William Henry Firth and James Taylor.

Premises used by the Co-op on Peel Street

Peel Street and old Shakespeare building

Peel Street and old Shakespeare building. The present-day building is in the centre of the picture. Click to enlarge

In 1862 the business moved for a short time into a property which later became the first Shakespeare public house in Peel Street.

Marsden Equitable Industrial Society, Market Place

Marsden Equitable Industrial Society, Market Place, c1880
Click to enlarge

Trade increased to such an extent that larger premises became essential and the enterprise transferred to a large shop in Market Place which was rented for £30 per annum. It was managed by an enterprising Samuel Walker from 1879 to 1890. In 1897 Elizabeth Hannah Watson and Sarah Jane Sykes sold the copyhold of the property to the Co-op. The transaction was recorded in the Marsden Manorial Court Leet for that year.

Old property in Market Place

Marsden Equitable Industrial Society

Marsden Equitable Industrial Society
Click to enlarge

The present day shop was built on the same site and had its opening on 29th May, 1897. The building was fitted throughout with electric light made by the society`s own engine and dynamo along with heating apparatus. The building proudly displayed its name – Marsden Equitable Industrial Society.

It must have been viewed as an amazingly modern place in which to shop. In 1898 Derby Terrace was purchased for £2,400. The two end properties currently occupied by Mozzarellas fronted onto Peel Street. They were opened with a boot and shoe shop in one and a butcher’s shop in the other.

The butchery and boot and shoe departments fronting on to Peel Street

The butchery and boot and shoe departments fronting on to Peel Street
Click to enlarge

The Co-op was always profitable. By 1900 the business included grocery, drapery, millinery, dressmaking, boot and shoe, butchery and coal departments. Sales for the first trading year ending in September, 1860 totalled £3,388 with profits amounting to £235. By 1900 the business of the society showed takings of £38,661 in the first six months of the trading year.

Three small branch shops were opened in the village. Branch 1 was built in 1903 on Lingards Terrace, opposite the Olive Branch on Manchester Road. It closed sometime in the mid 1960s and was converted into house. Branch 2 was the Binn Road shop which officially opened on March 3rd,1911 and was described as a two storey building comprising grocery and butchery departments with a commodious corn chamber extending over the whole. It also closed sometime in the mid 1960s and was a Youth Hostel for some years. The half yearly report dated December 4th, 1911 reported that Branch 3 at Smithy Holme had opened and that 54 houses had also been built at Lower Plains. The Smithy Holme shop also closed in the mid 1960s and was converted to private housing.

Branch 1 on Manchester Road

Branch 2 on Binn Road

Branch 3 at Smithy Holme on Marsden Lane


Cavendish Court on Warehouse Hille

Cavendish Court on Warehouse Hill
Click to enlarge

At the Marsden Council Meeting of December 9th, 1911 plans were submitted for the building of a tripery and sausage room with stabling for the horses at Warehouse Hill. When these premises were sold in the mid 1960s. The buildings were converted into housing and called Cavendish Court.

The Co-op that we know today is considerably smaller than it was at its peak a hundred years ago. However, it continues to provide the village with wholesome staple foods sold at discounted prices to members.

Judi Thorpe March, 2024