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Forum Home > Halesowen and Hasbury History. > Halesowen & Hasbury Industrial Co-operative Society.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Those of you who are regular readers of the website, will have noticed, that I very rarely include past members of my family. On this occasion I will, for it concerns the founding and management of this Co-operative, which had a big impact on the living conditions of it's members, for almost a hundred years. There were a great many of these mutual societies formed during the mid to late 19th century, all by the ordinary working class men and women, who applied the idea of banding together, in the spirit of co-operation. The movement stemmed from the Rochdale Pioneers, the history of whom you will find fairly easy on the internet. It's still going strong today, in many varied forms, indeed, my Wife and I are founder members of one such Co-operative, although we don't do a bread or milk round. Halesowens Co-op history is very hard to find, for there are very few surviving records, but what there is, makes interest reading, for the band of men who founded it, all came from either Halesowen or Hasbury, and most were just simple Nailers. Maybe you will recognise a family name or two among those listed.


On land aquired in what was then Vine Street, The Model Bakery began to produce bread in 1929.


The 1860s was a time of boom and bust in the Black Country, and in 1870, someone had the bright idea of forming a society that would allow it's members to at least buy decent quality goods, and, if things worked out well, give it's members a good discount. The start of the famous Co-op Dividend. All the founder members were men of firm religious beliefs, Methodist's to a man it appears. Led by one John Jones, a nailer and Methodist Lay Preacher from Short Cross, Hasbury, they founded the society in 1871. Among the rest, and there were at least 15 men, was James Williams, a fellow nailer and Green Grocer, who had a shop in Peckingham Street, Halesowen. It was here, somewhere just before Birmingham Street, that the Co-op set up shop, and before long, they had a paid up membership of nearly 50 people. The money this raised was the working capital, and they continued to slowly grow. This growth is clearly shown in some old co-op minutes from 1877, now in the archives of the Central England ( previously Central Midlands ) Co-operative Society, which details the cash withdrawals made by various members. ( The Divi )  These bare minutes, contain the signatures of two men, Thomas Smart, the Societies President, who may have lived in Hasbury, and Henry Haycock, the Secretary, who resided in Birmingham Road, Halesowen. The archives also contain minutes from 1878, and this time, they list all the other members of the Management Committee. John Jones, the lay preacher, James Dingley, and the already mentioned James Williams from Peckingham Street, William Hackett, and his son, also named William Hackett, both nailers from Brook Road, Birmingham Street, as were George Hancox, a shoe maker, and Ebenezer Greaves, from Mount Street, Hasbury, another nailer, and the son of my Gt Gt Grandfather, who had been a founding member, but sadly died in late 1871. ( Hancox actually lived next door to my Gt Grandfather, David Greaves in Brook Road.) ) Caleb Smith, was one of the few who weren't nailers, for he was a chainmaker, and lived in Gibbet Lane, Hasbury. The rest all appear to come from Birmingham Street, starting with Henry Hackett, William Rudge, and William Bayliss, who were all regular attenders at the nearby Methodist Chapel. From the family story I have from my grandfather, (about his own grandfather, Ebenezer ) who was born the same year as this meeting took place, it would appear that this was the group who laid the foundations of what became a quite successful little Co-op. There are no more permanant records in the archives until 1898, so if anyone has any old family documents on the subject they would care to share with me, I will try and fill in the gaps. I am particulary interested about the date when they first expanded, ( some time in the early 1890s ) when a branch was opened in Gorsty Hill, and at which time some of the old Committee names were still active. John Dingley was President, William Rudge was the Secretary, and a man called Benjamin Marsland was employed as General Manager, and who had a great influence in the future of the Halesowen and Hasbury Industrial Co-operative Society.



On the same site as the Bakery, the Co-operative also built a Model Dairy, which was opened in 1932, and processed over a 100 gallons of Milk an hour. In a few years, this had almost doubled. In later years, the loading bay aquired a cover.


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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

July 19, 2014 at 4:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

The photograph below, which was taken around 1909, shows the Bakery that existed in Birmingham Street. It has to be around this date, for the last Branch, ( No.4, Blackheath ) was opened about this time, and is shown in the paintwork on the delivery cart.



In a way. it's a bit of a sad picture, for the youngest lad, marked by me as F.G. was Ebenezer Greaves son, Frank Greaves. He was about 13 years old at the time, and had of course been offered a job as a Baker, because his father was a Committee member. ( It's a fair bet, that some of the other lads in the picture, were also beneficients of the system ) Young Frank, at 21, was killed in a battle on the Somme in 1917, while serving with Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Reserve. He had only been in France for 8 days. ( He isn't on Halesowen's Roll of Honour, because he was Navy, not Army, and if anyone can advise me how to correct the omission, I would be very grateful. ) John Dingley, together with Ben Marsland, managed to keep the Co-operative afloat through the First World War, but the financial climate afterwards, took a downturn, and for brief time. the outlook was a bit gloomy. Mr Dingley stepped down, to be replaced by the Rev. Isaac Wrigley, who in turn handed the role over to George Albert Roper in 1925, who ran a tight and profitable ship until 1952. Altogether, the Co-operative built or opened 18 branches around the area, one of the bigger ones being the branch in Stourbridge, which was also the first one to sell Drapery and Shoes. Although it was a small Co-operative by the standards of others, it looked after some of employees very well. Take the four semi detached houses, that were constucted in Vine Lane, just in front of the Dairy.



The first one was called " Lyndon ", ( they had no numbers ) which was the name of the Tobacco brand they sold, and was occupied by Mr Fred Jones, who was the foreman of the Garage and Transport section. The second, " Osmaston ", was the brand name of the Seeds they sold, and the foreman of the Model Dairy, Mr H Brettell, lived here. The name of the Butter the Co-op sold was the next house name, " Mayville ", occupied by Mr John Hill, the Wharehouse foreman and Education Secretary. The last house, " Waveney ", the name of the well renowned Cheese they sold, housed Arthur Eades, whose job was the foreman of all the delivery rounds. I should point out, that apart from the Milk, all the other products came from the Co-operative Wholesale Society, who, although based in Manchester, had production units in many parts of the Country. If you recognise a name, or have some information from the past on the Co-op, do get in touch.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

July 20, 2014 at 3:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

In response to several enquiries, The Model Bakery, was vertually destroyed by fire in late 1936. It required the efforts of two local Fire Brigades to put it out, and the water system was so poor, that water had to pumped from the brook near to Bromsgrove Street. This caused delays, resulting in damage of over £10,000, quite a sum in 1936. The building was replaced in another part of the town, and a few years ago was demolished. Lets hope, that with the loss of the local Fire Station, the fire hydrants are in better shape than they were then.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

February 19, 2015 at 4:46 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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