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Cooperative Society

How can we the Stocksbridge & District History Society, compile a history of the Cooperative Society which will do justice to what has been written before?

The answer to this simple question is that we can’t, but perhaps what we can attempt to do here, is to bring together what has been written previously and bring the history up to date.

Without doubt the first point of contact for individuals seeking information about this subject can only be a book written by Joseph Kenworthy which is titled Stocksbridge Band of Hope Industrial Cooperative Society Ltd Jubilee History 1860 - 1910 and was published in 1910.

What a title almost as long as the Cooperative Society’s own history.

An article written by Trevor Lodge as part of a Newsletter published by the management of the local Steel Works gives a short history of this fascinating subject.

Les Walker also wrote his own version of the History of the Cooperative Society which also makes interesting reading about what is probably the second most significant business to have developed in this valley.

1860 saw the formation of the Stocksbridge Band of Hope, Industrial Cooperative Society, which first met at a cottage in Gibson Lane and subsequently at the Friendship Inn.

The first Cooperative shop in Stocksbridge opened in a property adjacent to the Friendship Hotel on Manchester road, the building is shown here in 1910, but by this time it was being used as a Pawnbrokers shop.

An interesting fact connecting the Cooperative Society and the Hunter's Shop shown next up the road from the Friendship, was related by Jack Branston in his second book about the history of Stocksbridge.

Later in its development the shop became Smith Wilkinson’s selling both Ladies and Gentlemen’s clothing, according to Mister Branston, when the Cooperative Central Grocery premises were demolished, a wrought iron spiral staircase, which had been in place since when the Central Stores was opened in 1863, was bought at scrap value by the management of Smith Wilkinson’s and installed in the shop.

As far as the writer is aware the staircase is still in place in 2012, but the premises are closed therefore making it difficult to check.

Although new to the Stocksbridge area, Cooperative Society’s had developed in other parts of the country, most notably in Rochdale.

This short newspaper article relates the origins of the local Society and the situation in 1906.

Here we show some photographs taken of the Society’s parades many of them from 1908, when floats were decorated and driven around the streets of Stocksbridge culminating in festivities for the employees and local residents.

We will attempt to relate the history from a point around 1910 up to the present day and to take the opportunity to display some of the photographs which were used in the publication of Joseph Kenworthy’s book, along with others from a more modern era.

Jack Branston in his book “History of Stocksbridge” talks about starting work with the Society and relates some of his many interesting experiences at some of the branches where he was sent in the performance of his duties.

It appears that the Society had its industrial disputes just the same as many organisations in the earlier part of the 20th century, as demonstrated in this letter to the “Co-operators of South Yorkshire” and this notification of the withdrawal of labour in the strike of 1919.

The  speaker’s notes from the mass meeting organised for the 20th of July 1919 suggests that the situation had been simmering from 1917 when Government intervention by Royal Proclamation had prevented an earlier altercation.

This analysis of the half year accounts for May 1920 suggests that the Wheatsheaf magazine was prevented from publication due to on-going labour difficulties in that year also.

The situation in 1921 is related here in an extract from the Wheatsheaf publication of July of that year.

In 1927 the funeral furnishing business of Mr Arthur Hanwell was purchased with Mr Hanwell becoming funeral Director on behalf of the Society.

At around the same time the Works Schools were purchased from Samuel Fox & Company Limited.

The Society had always taken a great interest in educational activities and when it was known that Local Authority intended to provide Library facilities, the Society Committee decided to make a gift of their extensive library to the Stocksbridge Urban District Council.

A great day in the history of the Society was the 7th of December 1929 when the Works School conversion scheme for the store was completed and opened for business, another project realised.

The following images show examples of some of the material in the form of Postcards which were issued on behalf of the English and Scottish Society’s, presumably the material was used for advertisement purposes.

The Society became famous for their window displays and indeed held competitions as can be seen from this booklet setting out the rules of the National Competition in 1935, this newspaper article lists the winners of the competition of that year.

The Society has been consistently generous in supporting all worthy institutions as can be seen from this newspaper article of 1939, when the Society and its employees contributed a sum of £500.

In July of 1937 it was decided to change the name from “The Stocksbridge Band of Hope Industrial Co-operative Society” to “The Stocksbridge Co-operative Society Limited” as it was thought that it was a better title for a modern business.

In 1956 the Stubbin branch was opened and it soon became necessary to extend the premises.

In the same year Mr Bertram Laycock was appointed Secretary-Manager of the Society, succeeding Mister Charlie Woodcock on his retirement.

For those of you who have no wish to trawl through Mr Kenworthy’s book let’s take a photographic trip around the branches which were located within our district.

The book itself goes a little further afield to places outside our district, places such as Wortley and Thurgoland, but who would want to go there?

Just joking honestly.

We don’t appear to have any history of the Bolsterstone (Number 4) Branch, only the following photographs, so if anyone has any information about this branch please let us know.

According to Joseph Kenworthy there were two branches of the Cooperative society in Deepcar, the first was located on Manchester Road close to the junction with Carr Road, and opened in 1893, it can be seen in these photographs in its earlier days.

In the 1920’s this branch saw the start of a new venture of the making of “The Stocksbridge Umbrella” the idea was to achieve a total product made in Stocksbridge using the Fox Umbrella frame.

It proved a good venture up until the time of the Second World War, when difficulties in obtaining materials closed down the department in 1941.

Mr T. J. Brown an experienced Umbrella foreman managed the department.

To mark its Centenary the Society decided to modernise the main Deepcar Branch and here we see a photograph taken just prior to the work being started.

The branch re-opened on the 31st of March 1960, Jack Branston, who was president of the Society at the time, can be seen in this set of photographs performing the opening ceremony.

Some two months later on the 2nd of June 1960 there was a fire at the branch, the following photographs show some of the damage that it sustained.

In his book “Pennine People & Places” Mr Branston describes the modernisation of the Deepcar Branch, the subsequent fire and what caused it, as reported by the Forensic Expert who examined the scene at the time.

Today in 2011 the building is in operation as a furniture shop.


The second of the two branches in Deepcar was located at Old Haywoods further west along Manchester Road and included a Grocery section and Butchers shop.

The building is shown here in 1910; the millinery department had been using the building on a temporary basis until it was transferred to the Jubilee building on Manchester Road at Stocksbridge.

Here we have two photographs of the Stubbin branch, contact us if you have further information on this shop.

Here we see a photograph of the Central Stores in Stocksbridge when it opened in 1863 and a second one thirty seven years later in 1910, it appears from the second photograph as if the pavement walls have been removed from each end of the building and the road level had been raised.

This next photograph shows the Central Stores sometime after 1906, when Mr. D. Massey had been appointed as manager,  he can be seen here on the left of the photograph.

The following photographs show the central store and some of it‘s workers at different times in its history. The store was demolished as part of the reorganisation of the Stocksbridge centre, this video shows the demolition of the area at the time.

This is a photograph of a previous Cooperative building which occupied the site prior to being converted to other uses.

The Jubilee building seen here in these two photographs opened on May 6th 1910.

The Stocksbridge Works School was bought by the Co-operative Society in 1927 from Samuel Fox & Company Limited and converted in to a store in December of 1929.

Horner House branch about which again we have little or no details.

In September 1931 seven thousand people attended the opening of the new model Dairy in Shay House Lane.

The Dairy provided the first pasteurised milk on sale in the Stocksbridge area, at 3d per pint.

According to Phillip Gosling who worked there from 1965 until it closed in 1968 there were five people working in the building a Manager a Secretary and three Operatives, along with a further eight delivering milk around the area plus a couple of relif workers to provide holiday cover etc.

At the time of closure production was transfered to Herries Road in Sheffield.

In 1972 it was demolished to make way for an extension of the Stocksbridge School.


Here we have a photo of the Garden Village branch which opened in 1921, contact us if you have further information on this shop.

The Langsett branch opened in 1898 and closed upon the completion of the reservoir, there was also a branch at Upper Midhope which opened in the same year.

The Upper Midhope Branch was closed on the resignation of Mr Bramall and Mr H. Taylor was placed in charge of the Langsett Branch

Have you any information or photographs of the East Whitwell branch or any of the other branches that we have or have not mentioned.

Apart from the local branches, the Society also owned what they referred to as “Cottage Property” some of which are listed here.

In December of 1909 the value of the cottage property stood at a little over £8,000.

The Managers House was located towards the bottom of Victoria Street above the junction with Hope Street, on land which is now a car park.

Brook Cottages at Hawthorn Brook was used for the manufacturing of Mineral Water.

Here we have two photographs of Cottage properties at Stocksbridge.

And here three of the Cottage Properties at Deepcar.


At various times in its history the Cooperative Society has gone out to its customers in the form of mobile services.

Here we have photographs of the bread and grocery delivery services.


As of 2011 there are two branches of the Society in Stocksbridge, the first shown here is the Pharmacy on Manchester Road.

The second branch is the Food Hall, built on land previously occupied by the College of Further Education, located at the junction of Manchester Road and Hole House Lane, it opened in 2002.

Finally let’s take a look at some photographs of the management and employees of the Society over a number of years.

The first photograph is of Joseph Moxon who acted as Secretary of the Society from June 1877 to December of 1906.

The second is of John Cutts Kenworthy who held the position from June 1908 to June 1910, the third and fourth show employees and officials at the Major Oak at Welbeck on the occasion of their Annual Outing in 1908.

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