As we enter upon the last ten years previous to the Society attaining its Jubilee, there is nothing eventful to record until the Half-yearly Meeting held on April 28th, 1902. The International Co-operative Alliance Association had been formed, the objects of which were to bring Co-operators throughout the world in closer contact, and, through the International Congress, for the members to have intercourse with each other, with a view to spreading the principles of Co-operation to every part of the world. The members at this meeting were in sympathy with this movement, and granted 10s. as membership and £1 subscription to the International Congress fund. Messrs. William Dixon and James A. Holmes were appointed delegates to the Co-operative Congress, which was this year held at Exeter.
Mr. George Henry Holroyd (the President of the Society) was nominated as a Director of the Meltham Cotton Spinning Company, ten shares of the Society being transferred to his name.
Festivities in connection with the Coronation took place in June of this year. Messrs. Samuel Lindley and Seth Brook were appointed to represent the Society on the Coronation Committee. For this event the horses and wagons were decorated and lent for the use of the children. The premises were also decorated and the shops closed all day Friday, June 27th, and at 4 o’clock on Saturday, June 28th.
The members at the Half-yearly Meeting held on April 28th empowered the Committee to erect a cart shed, which was very much needed at this time, the carts and wagons having to be left exposed to the weather. The following tenders for this work were accepted:— Mason, Mr. Tom Hirst, £11 3s. 6d.; joiner, Mr. J. M. Moorhouse, £15 12s. 8d.; plumber, Mr. J. W. Kaye, £7 5s.; ironwork, Mr. Jas. Kilburn, £18; slating, Mr. James Wilkinson, £13 10s. 9d.
The tiling of the backyards in connection with the whole of the twenty-six cottages was required to be done, and an estimate for this work was sent in by Mr. Carter on June 16th, 1902, and accepted, the cost to be 21s. per house.
In this year (1902) an organised system of boycott by private traders against Co-operative Societies prevailed in various parts of the country, and, for the purpose of defence, a fund was being raised. The Society having been appealed to, the members at the Half-yearly Meeting held on September 27th, made a grant of 1s. per member if it should be required. Happily, the boycott gradually subsided, and only two calls of 10s. and one of £1 10s. were paid to this defence fund. At this meeting shares to the amount of £10 were invested in the Bradford Co-operative Cabinet Makers' Society, and an additional £20 invested in the Huddersfield Brush Society.
The sum of £20 was granted to Captain Schofield, one of the Society’s employees, in sympathy with his being incapacitated for a long period through a serious illness.
On January 17th, 1903, a tea and entertainment was held in the Oddfellows’ Hall. Mr. J. Shillito (Chairman of the Co-operative Wholesale Society) addressed the meeting. The Baptist Choir provided the musical portion of the entertainment, with Mr. John Wood as accompanist.
At a Special General Meeting held on February 18th, 1903, was called for the purpose of considering the advisability of taking up forty additional shares in the Bent Ley Silk Spinning Company. A resolution that forty additional shares be taken up in this company was passed.
The Co-operative Wholesale Society having issued an invitation to Societies to visit the Luton Cocoa Works and the London Tea Warehouse, the President (Mr. G. H. Holroyd) and the Manager were appointed delegates to inspect these works.
On April 27th Messrs. Samuel Lindley and Ben Sykes were appointed delegates to the Co-operative Congress to be held at Doncaster in Whit-Week. The Committee were also empowered to arrange for the enlargement of the warehouse.
On June 15th a horse was purchased from Mr. White-head for the sum of £41.
At the Agricultural Society’s Show, held in July, the Society was successful in obtaining first prize for decorated horses and wagon.
At the Half-yearly General Meeting held on October 26th, 1903, it was resolved to take up fifty £1 shares in the North Wales Slate Quarries, to grant £10 to the Continuation Classes, and £1 to the Doncaster Congress. It was also decided at this meeting that the extensions of the warehouse should be carried out. The meeting thought that the carrying out of these extensions would entail too much responsibility upon the Committee, and the following members were appointed to act along with them until the whole of the enlargements were completed:— Messrs. Wilson Sykes, F. W. Creaser, G. W. Redfearn, John Pogson, and Mark Hollingworth. Along with these new additions to the Committee there came new ideas and many complications, and the original intention of extending the warehouse only was abandoned, and ultimately the following alterations were decided upon and carried out:— The pulling down of the old warehouse and flour room in a line with the Grocery and Drapery Departments, and extending the whole of the building about fifteen yards back into the yard; excavating for crockery and grocery and corn stock rooms in the basement; flour room and warehouse and extension of drapery and boot room on ground floor, and the whole of the top room for corn storage; fixing large hoist for the use of these departments; also fixing new and up-to-date flour and sugar bins in warehouse; building engine-room and fixing engine, and erecting glazed roof shed for the loading and unloading of goods; and the fixing of warming apparatus. The costs incurred in carrying out the whole of these extensions were as follows:—
|Masonry||Fred Earnshaw, Meltham||515||7||6|
|Joinery||Garlick Bros., Meltham||263||0||0|
|Ironwork||James Kilburn, Meltham||228||8||7|
|Warming Apparatus||Tomlinson & Milan, Huddersfield||50||5||0|
|Belting, &c.||T. Pickersgill, Huddersfield||3||14||6|
|Metal for Concrete||Motley & Green, Leeds||42||5||0|
|Slating||Pickles Bros., Huddersfield||73||0||0|
|Concrete||J. E. Dyson, Huddersfield||111||4||0|
|Plumbing||J. W. Kaye, Meltham||36||17||2|
|Gas Engine||Crossley Bros., Manchester||65||0||0|
|Flour Bins||Hall & Kaye, Ashton||108||12||0|
|Bradford Fireproof Plate Wall Co.||13||4||0|
|Plastering||J. Wilkinson & Sons, Meltham||25||0||0|
|Hoist, &c.||Wm. Wadsworth & Sons, Bolton||91||2||6|
|Counter and Shelving||George Pogson, Meltham||83||15||0|
|Counter||J. M. Moorhouse, Meltham||10||8||0|
|Pavement Lights||George Wright & Co., Rotherham||10||3||8|
It was during these alterations the limit of share capital was extended from £100 to £200.
On November 23rd, 1903, Mr. Lodge was appointed as Drapery Manager, which position he still holds. Under his supervision this department has shown steady and continued progress.
Edward Brook, Esq., who had in many ways been a great benefactor to the village of Meltham, and with whom the Society had had many profitable transactions, died on January 29th, 1904. The funeral took place on Wednesday, February 3rd, and to show due respect to a generous citizen the premises were closed the whole of the day.
Some property, consisting of two shops with land and warehouse at the back and closely adjoining the Society's premises, was at this time offered for sale to the Society by Mr. Lydall, the owner. The Committee, after due consideration, concluded that this property should be secured, and although it was not immediately required, it was another outlet for the members’ capital, would pay good interest on the amount expended, and would also prove most valuable to the Society when opening new branches of business. At a Special Committee Meeting held April 7th, 1904, it was unanimously carried that the offer made by Mr. Lydall should be accepted subject to confirmation by the Half-yearly Meeting, and that the property be purchased for the sum of £1,125. This action of the Committee was approved by the General Meeting, and Mr. G. G. Fisher, Solicitor, was appointed to carry out the conveyance.
This year the Co-operative Congress was held at Stratford. Messrs. Geo. Hy. Holroyd and Stead Lunn were appointed as delegates.
Wednesday, June 8th, 1904, stands out as a red-letter day in the history of the Society to the employees. The Committee, allowed the shops to be closed all day, and granted the sum of 5s. to each employe in order that they may visit the Luton Cocoa Works and London Tea Warehouse. The visit was most enjoyable and interesting, and will ever be remembered with pleasure by every person who took advantage of it.
The first Children's Gala in connection with the Stores was held on Saturday, August 13th, 1904. The children formed in procession at 2 o’clock, and marched through the village headed by the Meltham Mills Brass Band and the officials of the Society. On reaching the field each child was presented with a packet of chocolate, and afterwards regaled with buns and coffee. Sports had been arranged for boys and girls, and prizes were given for each event. Punch and Judy performances took place at intervals, and the band played selections of music.
From this time these Gala days have taken place yearly, and have been a great success when the weather has been favourable.
On September 1st, 1904 the horse “Gilbert” was bought from Mr. John S. Lockwood for the sum of £28. 18s.
The time for the taking of stocks was altered at this period to the last Saturday in January and the last Saturday in July.
In the balance sheet for the eighteen weeks ending January, 1905, there is a report given of the half year’s work of the Women’s Co-operative Guild. During the last half year the Guild has held some very successful meetings and lectures, the first of the series being a lecture by Miss Gration (Leeds), subject: “How to Make Life Worth Living;” also one by the President of the Society (Mr. George H. Holroyd) on “The Balance Sheet.” We have also had two by Dr. Gellatly (our medical officer) on “Health;” also one each from Mrs. Shillito (Halifax), Miss Goodall (Leeds), Mrs. Knowles (Cleckheaton), and Messrs. W. Dixon and S. Lindley (members of the Board).
The question of Collective Life Assurance was freely discussed at the Half-yearly Meeting on October 24th, 1904, and it was decided that a Special General Meeting of the members be held to consider this scheme. The meeting took place, and a representative from the Insurance Society attended to explain all details relative to the scheme, but failed to make a favourable impression upon the majority present, and the question was allowed to drop for the time being.
An interesting ceremony took place on Thursday, June 22nd, by way of christening the new gas engine. This performance was enacted by the President (Mr. G. H. Holroyd) in a manner worthy of the event, and he proclaimed that henceforth the engine should be named “Unity.”
The Committee had been engaged for some time in making inquiries respecting the greengrocery business, and making all preparations for commencing this branch of business as a department, separated from the grocery, with which it had hitherto been connected. The shop belonging to the Society occupied by Messrs. Wallace, had been fixed upon as suitable for this business. Having had due notice, Messrs. Wallace removed by the time the notice expired. All necessary alterations were made to make it as attractive as possible for carrying on a good business. Suitable wagons for the display of green fruit were purchased. On August 14th, 1905, Mr. Walter Ingham (Batley) was appointed Manager, and the department was opened for business on August 21st. The carrying of these commodities to their doors a few times per week has proved a great boon to the members.
At this time Mr. George Cowgill, Assistant Cashier, who had acted as Minute Secretary to the Committee for a few years, left the Society’s employment, having received an appointment as Manager of the Disley Co-operative Society, which position he holds at the present time.
The elaborate extensions to the premises previously mentioned were now nearing completion. The additional Committee appointed in October, 1903, had been suspended, and arrangements were being made for a formal opening to take place on Saturday, November 18th, 1905, in the shape of a Public Tea and Meeting. Mr. Philip Snowden addressed a splendid meeting of the members, and the following artistes contributed to a most successful entertainment: The Crosland Moor United Handbell Ringers, and the Meltham Orpheus Quartette Party, consisting of Messrs. D. Wood, George Singleton, Earnshaw, and M. Watson. The President (Mr. G. H. Holroyd) occupied the chair.
When the whole of the alterations and fittings were fully completed, the question of insurance arose, and, after due consideration, it was decided to insure the buildings and fixtures with the Co-operative Insurance Society to the amount of £11,000.
On February 26th, 1906, the Half-yearly Meeting granted £1 donation to the National Lifeboat Institution and 10s. 6d. to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
The old question as to whether the Society should commence on the ready-money payment system was again brought to the fore at the Half-yearly Meeting held on August 27th, 1906, and a decision was come to that a ballot be taken of the whole of the members.
On September 19th it was moved: “That we send out a voting paper to each member for or against ready-money payments, and whether we shall sell exclusively C.W.S. soaps,” The result of the voting on these questions was as follows: For ready-money 405, against 323, majority in favour 82; for the sale of C.W.S. soaps 241, against 405, majority against 164. Ready-money payments commenced February, 1907.
In November, 1906, two fields situated at the back of the Stores and consisting of about 2½ acres of land were purchased from Charles Brooke, Esq., for the sum of £885.
The Employers’ Liability Act having become law, it was decided on July 22nd, 1907, that all the Society’s employees be insured with the Co-operative Insurance Society.
Having been selected from a number of applicants, Mr. Charles Eastwood was appointed Manager of the Boot Repairing Department as successor to Mr. William Hinchliffe, who had resigned the position on October 14th, 1907.
On November 25th, 1907, all railway wagons belonging to the Society were insured with the Co-operative Insurance Society.
In December, 1907, a Window-Dressing Competition was arranged in connection with the Huddersfield Branch of the Co-operative Employees’ Union, open to all the Societies in the Huddersfield district. The Society’s employees entered this competition, and the Committee placed the window at their disposal. They were successful in obtaining second prize, and the Committee granted 10s. to the prize given by the Union.
At the invitation of the Co-operative Wholesale Society to visit the productive works at Pelaw the Manager and Mr. J. W. Kenworthy were appointed as the Society’s representatives on Monday, May 4th, 1908.
On Wednesday, October 28th, the Manager and Mr. J. Wilkinson (President) visited the productive works at Silvertown, London.
The system of ready-cash payments had now been in operation twelve months, and the results were not satisfactory, the sales having decreased with great rapidity. As a consequence, at the Half-yearly Meeting held on March 1st, 1909, it was moved: “That a ballot be taken of the whole of the members as to whether the Society shall again adopt the system of fortnightly payments.” This ballot resulted in the fortnightly payment system being again established, the voting being as follows: For fortnightly payments, 383, for cash payments, 334, majority 49.
At this meeting a notice of motion: “That the Grocery and Drapery Departments remain' open on Friday and Saturday until 8 p.m. was passed over without comment.
Mr. Thomas Hirst, who had been Secretary of the Society from the year 1874 (a period of twenty-five years), was at this time in a state of very indifferent health, and could not fulfil the duties which the office demanded. Having reached the age of seventy years, he decided to resign the position and give place to a younger man.
Mr. H. S. Kaye, who had been in the employ of the Society for nineteen years, was selected out of a large number of applicants, and appointed as Mr. Hirst’s successor.
The retirement of Mr. Hirst meant that the line of veteran Pioneers counted one less for active service. Joining the Society in 1865, he had rendered yeoman service and been a faithful servant. Deeply interested in the Society’s welfare, he had worked for its success with untiring determination, both as member, Committee-man, and Secretary.
Alterations had been made to the vacant rooms over the Greengrocery Department, making them suitable for boot repairing and clogging, and were occupied at the end of December, 1909, by this branch of business. The cottage in the yard, which had been used for this purpose, was to be converted into a dwelling-house. At the Committee Meeting held on December 30th, 1909, the following tenders for alterations were accepted:— Masonry, J. Moorhouse & Co., £8 10s.; joinery, J. M. Moorhouse, £22 18s.; plasterers, J. Wilkinson & Sons, £7 19s.; plumbing, J. Canney, £5; painting, F. Snowden, £3 15s.
Voting for Officers of the Society previous to the Half-yearly Meeting took place for the first time in February, 1910.
On June 27th, 1910, the following tenders were accepted for the erection of piggeries, which had been contemplated for a considerable time: Masonry, J. Moorhouse & Sons, £45; joinery, J. M. Kinder, £15 10s.; slating, Alfred Bower, £10 15s.
At the Half-yearly Meeting held August 29th, 1910, a resolution was passed: “That a ballot of the members be taken to ascertain whether they are in favour of adopting or otherwise the Collective Life Assurance Scheme, the result to be declared at the next Half-yearly Meeting.” During the intervening time handbills advocating and explaining the scheme were distributed to the members. The result of the ballot was in favour of adopting the scheme, which is now in operation. Many deaths have taken place since its adoption, and various sums have been paid to families of deceased members, who have felt it a great help to them at a time when much needed.
It was also decided to grant the sum of £4 as a subscription towards the expenses in connection with the Co-operative Congress to be held at Bradford in Whit-Week; also to give a donation of £20 to the Huddersfield Infirmary and £5 to the Meltham Sickness and Accident Aid Association out of the Jubilee Fund.
The Manager of the Greengrocery Department (Mr. Gladstone Turton) tendered his resignation on March 13th, 1911. On March 27th Mr. Fred Leader (Brighouse) was appointed his successor.
Having now recorded all the principal events which have transpired during the fifty years of the Society's existence, my writing, like most things in this world, must come to an end.
Preparations for the Jubilee Celebrations are well in hand, and are being pushed forward. A record of the proceedings being given in a later chapter completing this history.
If we confine our remarks to the progress which has been made during the past fifty years to the Meltham Co-operative Society alone, we exclaim: “How marvellous has been the growth, considering the limitations of its operations.”
But if we extend our vision to the whole of the Co-operative movement, and still beyond to Science, Art, Industry, Invention, and Education, we are amazed at the marvellous advancement that has been made. This means that the young Co-operators of to-day have facilities within their reach which did not exist, and which were impossibilities, with the old Pioneers.
The Co-operative movement, like science and invention, is only on the fringe of its possibilities. Let each Co-operator gird on the Co-operative armour and fight for the extension of the great principle, “Each for all, and all for each,” also to adopt the well-known maxim of the movement, “Labour and Wait.”