CS Project - About The Cooperative Society

Research compiled by Lucy Hill, Assigned SWiB Project Coordinator (Cooperative Society Project)

The first Co-operative Society formed in Rochdale in 1844 which laid down a set of principles which still underpin the Coop movement today:

- Democratic control
- One person, one vote
- The sharing of profiles based on purchases
- Sound working conditions
- Membership
- Education

It was exactly what Plymouth wanted. In 1867 expansion began including butchery, a bakery and the opening of an enormous central premise in Frankfort Street.

The society spread its wings and by 1900 twenty premises had opened and business interest varied from farming, furnishing, insurance, building, tailoring and transport. Despite the devastating events of the war, the Coop pulled together and continued to pull the business forward, appealing to the public to look at the reality of their motto:

"Each for all and all for each".

Members of the society, as a whole, did their duty, both internally and externally. The society endeavoured not only to adapt itself to the changing circumstances but as far as possible to continue its progressive path.

1919 was a remarkable year as it was the first year of peace and the society opened its first shop in Devon outside the boundary of the three towns since 1914.

In 1920, the society celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with a parade of its stock. Past and present committee members gathered of which most had over 40 years membership.

For a while, the economic consequences of the war became visible with unemployment, the slump in trade and falling wages, but competition was never more keen and the half-yearly meetings gave indication of recovery.

The new era was an era of re-building and development. Designed to overcome the twin evils of 'Blitz' and 'Blight' it involved substantial proposals for re-development of the obliterated City Centre and the re-housing of thousands.

The opening of the central premises took place in 1952 and the development of other premises followed as the trade targets increased into millions. The expansion of the Coop played a big hand n changing the face of the City and making it what it is today.


References:

Briscoe. R., The Story of the Plymouth Co-operative Society, 1860-1960, (Manchester Cooperative Press Limited)


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