The spirit of unrest prevailing at the close of 1891 continued for several months into the year 1892. Although the General Meeting held in November decided strongly in favour of adopting the ready-money system of payment, and notwithstanding the arrangements made by the Committee for its commencement, it was again to be abandoned. The agitation against its adoption grew very strong, several special meetings of the whole of the members being held. The climax and settlement of the matter, for a long number of years, came at a Special General Meeting held in the Meltham Church Schoolroom on Friday evening, March 18th, 1892, when it was resolved that the resolutions passed at the Special General Meetings held on November 23rd, 1891, and February 17th, 1892, be rescinded, and that the fortnightly payment system be continued. There voted for the resolution, 158; against, 85. As a result of this decision many members of the Board of Management resigned their position.
In the meantime Mr. Yearsley had sent in his resignation as Manager of the Drapery Department, and the Committee decided to advertise in the Co-operative News and Huddersfield Examiner for a General Manager, one with a good knowledge of drapery preferred. Out of many applicants Mr. Haigh (the present Manager of the Society) was finally selected and installed as General Manager at this critical period of the Society’s history. After a time the turbulent spirit gradually settled down, and things again became normal.
On Saturday, July 16th, the Meltham Agricultural Society held their first show, the Society granting the use of two fields for the purpose. They also granted the use of a field free of charge to the Musical Demonstration Committee on Feast Sunday, 1893, for a sing to be given for the benefit of the Huddersfield Infirmary and Thornhill Colliery Disaster.
The employees at this time thought the hours worked by them were too long, and could be reduced a half hour per day without having any injurious effect upon the Society’s business. A petition was forwarded to the Committee requesting this to be granted. They received it favourably, and promised to place it on the business agenda for the next General Meeting, which was to be held on October 23rd, 1893. The intervening time between the presenting of the petition and the General Meeting saw many converts to this early closing movement, so that when the meeting took place there was no lack of advocates in its favour, and the following resolution was passed:—
Thus the reduction of hours granted was far in excess of what the employees asked for. This early closing of the shop commenced on December 4th, 1893, and there has been no necessity to change up to the present time.
From the commencement of the Society in 1861 to April 23rd, 1894, all those who had served on the Committee had rendered their services voluntarily. It was now thought by many of the members that this ought no longer to continue, and at the Half-yearly Meeting held on this date it was decided that the nine Committee-men and President be paid £1 each as wages for their services, making a total of £10 per half year.
The dried fruit sales which had now been held for a number of years in connection with the Co-operative Wholesale Society had not hitherto been attended by anyone in connection with the Society. It was passed at the Committee Meeting held October 1st, “that the Manager attend the fruit sale to be held on Saturday, October 20th.”
At the General Meeting held on October 22nd, 1894, on the Committee’s recommendation, it was passed to subscribe £10 to the Co-operative Congress Fund, to be held in Huddersfield in 1895; also that a General Meeting be held in four weeks’ time to take into consideration the advisability of alteration of rules and the extension of premises. This meeting was held, and the Committee were instructed to prepare plans for the alterations, and some of the existing rules were altered.
The services of Mr. William Carter, Architect, were employed for the preparing of plans for the alteration of premises. When ready they were presented to the Committee for inspection and were approved. At the General Meeting held on April 22nd, 1895, they were submitted to the members, and it was passed that the alterations take place.
Power was given to the Committee to sell at any time which they considered best any shares of the Society’s investments. A motion that we commence with one uniform dividend was defeated by 104 votes to 72. At this meeting the rate of percentage paid on share capital was reduced from 5 to 4⅙ per cent per annum, the same to commence from April 1st, 1895.
Quantities for the alterations were prepared forthwith by Mr. Carter and submitted to Meltham contractors only. The following tenders were accepted:— Masons, Messrs. J. Moorhouse & Sons, £359; joiners, Messrs. Garlick Bros., £130; plasterers, Messrs. J. Wilkinson & Sons, £26 10s.; plumbers, Mr. J. W. Kaye, £52 10s.; slaters, Mr. Jowett, £25; total, not including ironwork, £593. Butcher’s shop fittings, Mr. J. W. Lees (Huddersfield); painting and graining, Messrs. J. Preston & Sons; drapery shop fittings, Mr. John Taylor, £66 10s.; new warming apparatus and boiler, Messrs. J. W. Thornton (Huddersfield); crane and hoist, Messrs. Jackson & Ogden (Oldham), £35.
The Committee at this time purchased a horse from Mr. Joseph Greenwood for the sum of £48.
On August 12th, 1895, Mr. Samuel Wood ceased to be Cashier to the Society, and the duties were transferred to the Manager, Mr. George Cowgill being appointed as assistant.
It was decided on October 28th to take up the following shares in Productive Societies and increase the share capital in Colne Vale Corn Millers’ Society to £250:— Five £1 shares, Airedale Co-operative Manufacturing Society; five £1 shares, Keighley Ironworks Society; five £1 shares, Dudley Bucket and Fender Society; fifty £1 shares, Brownfields Guild Potteries. The Committee also received instructions to prepare a method of voting by ballot for the officers of the Society at future meetings.
Mr. William Strickland (Manager of the Boot Repairing Department) had tendered his resignation on October 21st, and on November 4th Mr. C. Senior (Dodworth) was appointed to the position.
On December 30th, 1895, the Society presented a Co-operative Annual to the Conservative Room, Liberal Room, and Mechanics’ Institute.
A most important transaction, and a very profitable one to the Society, took place in January, 1896. The Town Hall had been built in a line with and closely connecting the Stores, and it was found that the land in their possession was not sufficient to allow for a back entrance to the building. Edward Brook, Esq., the donor of the plot of land upon which the Town Hall was built, and who afterwards paid all costs in connection with the building and furnishings when completed, was acquainted with the matter. The portion of land they required belonged to the Society, having been bought from Mr. Brook in 1891. Mr. Brook made an offer to the Committee that he would transfer to the Society a plot of land consisting of 425 square yards, and closely adjoining the Society’s premises, in exchange for the small strip of land required to make the Town Hall premises complete. A Special General Meeting of the members was called to consider this offer, and it was unanimously carried that the offer be accepted, and that the best thanks of the meeting be forwarded to Mr. Brook for his generosity. Being present, along with Mr. Brook and his agent, when measuring out the ground, I found him to be most generous to the Society, and heard him state to his agent that the ground must be well fenced in by a good substantial wall at his expense. The ground in question is now occupied by the stabling, slaughter-house, and other out-premises.
The extension of the premises which was being carried out at this time consisted of making the Grocery and Drapery Departments into Grocery Department, the building of new Drapery, Boots, Crockery, and Butchering Departments, also the furnishing of a new Boardroom, completing the frontage as we see it at the present time. These extensions were now nearing completion, and it was arranged that the opening take place on Easter Saturday, April 4th, 1896. A meat tea and meeting was held, which proved a great success. Mr. Maxwell (at that time Chairman of the Scottish Wholesale Society) being the principal speaker.
A Women’s Guild was formed at this time, which existed and carried on its work for a number of years, but has now become extinct.
At the April Half-yearly Meeting it was decided to increase the share capital in the Colne Vale Corn Millers’ Society to £500, and the system of voting by ballot, as introduced by the Committee, was accepted.
On September 4th, 1896, it was passed in Committee to subscribe 10s. towards the Evening Continuation Classes held at the Mechanics’ Institute; also in February, 1897, a loan of £6 was granted for the same purpose.
Another tea party and entertainment was held on Saturday, February 27th, 1897. Addresses were delivered by George Thompson, Esq., J.P. (Huddersfield) and George Thorpe, Esq. (President of the Dewsbury Cooperative Society). The artistes were as follows:— Miss M. D. Bishop, soprano (Dewsbury), Mr. Arthur Calvert, humorist, and the Meltham Orpheus Quartette Party, consisting of Messrs. D. Wood, A. Pogson, C. Kenworthy, and J. W. Kenworthy.
Mr. Senior (head of the Boot Repairing Department) sent in his resignation on March 15th, and we again find this department without a Manager. After advertising in the Co-operative News, Mr. David Oliver (Queensbury) received the appointment.
Mr. Carter, Architect, had been instructed to prepare plans for the erecting of new stables, slaughter-house, cart shed, coal places, &c., which, after completion, were presented at a Special Meeting of the members held on July 1st, to pass the same or otherwise. It was moved and passed that they be accepted and that the Committee be given power to alter or modify as they thought best for the benefit of the Society.
For the erection of these buildings the following tenders were accepted:— Mr. James Mellor, mason’s work, £449; Mr. J. M. Kinder, joiner’s work, £165. 10s.; Mr. James Wilkinson, plastering, £13; Mr. John W. Kaye, plumbing, £46. 15s.; Mr. Alfred Bower, slating, £54. The tender of Messrs. Murgrave & Co. (Manchester) was accepted for the internal fittings.
In September of this year two coal wagons were purchased, one from Messrs. C. Roberts & Co. (Horbury), for the sum of £46, and one from Mr. James Kenworthy (Lockwood), for the sum of £55.
At the Half-yearly General Meeting held in October the sum of £5 was granted to the lecture scheme fund. A motion was also passed that any member purchasing under £5 value of goods per half year be paid interest on their share capital at the rate of 2½ per cent only. At this meeting the office of Secretary was made permanent.
On January 3rd, 1898, Mr. Fred Barker was instructed to build a two-horse wagon for the sum of £24.
The Colne Vale Corn Millers’ Society had sent out invitations to shareholding Societies to inspect the mill, which inspection was to take place on March 1st. Messrs. Haigh (Manager) and Hirst (Secretary) were appointed the deputation to attend this function.
On Saturday, February 19th, 1898, a knife and fork tea and public meeting was held in the Oddfellows’ Hall. An address was delivered by Frank Ardern, Esq. (Oldham). The following artistes were also engaged:— Miss H. D. Bishop, soprano (Dewsbury), Mr. H. Land, ventriloquist (Huddersfield), Mr. Jacob Roberts’ Glee Party; accompanist, Mr. John Wood. The chair was taken by Mr. John Wilkinson (President of the Society.)
At the April Half-yearly Meeting the abolition of the office of Treasurer took place. The voting was as follows:— For abolition, 148; against, 86; majority, 62. It was also passed by a large majority that one uniform dividend be paid with the exception of butchering.
In anticipation of building cottages for the members, the Committee had for some time been looking out for suitable building land with a view to purchase. On June 27th, 1898, it was agreed to purchase a plot of ground situated at Wet Lands from Messrs. Hall and White (Huddersfield), the price being 2s. 6d. per yard. This ground is now occupied by twenty-six cottages. The whole plot contained 3,202 square yards, the cost being £400 5s.
In the early part of July the new stables, slaughterhouse, &c., were nearing completion, and on Saturday, the 23rd, the whole of the buildings were open for inspection by the members.
To make the way more easy of access to the drapery stockroom and furnishing, which were situated upstairs, it was decided to erect a spiral staircase leading direct from the Drapery Department to these rooms. Messrs. W. C. Holmes & Co. (Huddersfield) fixed the staircase for the sum of £16. A crane was also purchased from Messrs. Jackson & Ogden for the sum of £9 10s., for the unloading of hay in the stables. The new buildings were also insured for the sum of £830.
An episode of “light and air,” involving the Society in much litigation and heavy pecuniary loss, had just come to a termination. The case arose out of bad smells from a nuisance on some adjoining property entering the keeping cellar and living-room through an aperture about twelve inches square of one of the Society’s dwelling-houses. The property owners, on being informed by the nuisance inspector, did not remove the nuisance, but erected a strong wall at very considerable expense close to the Society’s building, entirely taking away the right of light and air. Although there was no real value attached to it, the Society was determined to maintain its rights, and therefore put the case in the hands of Messrs. Ramsden, Sykes, & Ramsden, Solicitors (Huddersfield). Eventually the case was tried at Huddersfield, the verdict being given against the Society. On appeal the case was tried at Leeds, and again the verdict was against the Society. The whole costs of the case amounted to £450.
The Committee, having been empowered to prepare plans for the building of cottages, had interviewed Mr. Berry, Architect (Huddersfield), and instructed him to prepare plans showing various kinds of cottage houses. After completion the plans were exhibited for inspection by the members. At a Special General Meeting held on December 28th, 1898, it was passed to build twelve cottage houses to plan No. 1, the probable cost to be about £240 per house. The successful tenders were as follows:— Masons, Mr. James Earnshaw, £1,282 10s.; joiners, Messrs. Garlick Bros., £518 10s.; plumbers, Mr. J. W. Kaye, £109; slaters, Mr. James Wilkinson, £162; plasterers, Mr. James Wilkinson, £144; painters, Messrs. Joseph Preston & Sons, £32; concretors, Mr. J. Cooke, £95 2s 6d.; total, £2,343 2s. 6d. It was also decided at this meeting that the share capital, which had hitherto been limited to £25, should be extended to £50, all capital over £25 to be paid at the rate of 3 per cent per annum.
The opening of a Small Savings Bank had been under the consideration of the Committee for some time, and all necessary arrangements had been made. The opening of this department for small investors took place on January 7th, 1899, the rate of 3 per cent per annum being paid on deposits.
In connection with the lecture scheme a lecture was delivered in the Liberal Hall on Thursday, February 9th, 1899, by the Rev. R. Roberts (Bradford), subject, “The Right to Live.”
On Saturday, February nth, the Committee received Mr. Shillito (Chairman of the Co-operative Wholesale Society) as a deputation from the Banking Department, with a view to the Society banking with the Wholesale Society. A decision to bank with the Wholesale Society was arrived at.
On June 12th, 1899, it was passed to take up five shares in the Co-operative Insurance Society.
As a result of the lecture scheme being carried into effect more attention was being given to educational matters, and another lecture was arranged to be given by Mr. Roberts on October nth, subject, “The Meaning and Worth of Co-operation.” Mr. Roberts was an ardent educationalist, and was a member of the Bradford School Board. The lectures he gave were of a highly intellectual character and were appreciated, but the attendance was only meagre.
At the Half-yearly Meeting held on October 23rd, 1899, a motion to take up five £1 shares in the Huddersfield Co-operative Brush Society was carried, and motions to take up 100 £1 shares in the Co-operative Insurance Society and to increase the shares in the Dudley Bucket and Fender Society to £30 were negatived.
On February 3rd, 1900, Mr. David Oliver (Boot Repairing Manager) left the employment of the Society, having obtained the management of the Holmfirth Co-operative Boot Society. Mr. A. Bowker (Crosland Moor) was appointed to the position, but only held it for about two weeks. On the recommendation of Mr. Bowker Mr. William Hinchcliffe (Huddersfield) received the appointment.
A lantern lecture was given on March 1st by Mr. T. Moorhouse (Director of the Co-operative Wholesale Society) on “The Productive Works.” There was a crowded audience, and the lecture was a great success.
At about this time a movement was on foot amongst Co-operators to commence coal mining. The movement emanated from the West Yorkshire Coal Federation, who advocated very warmly that this was the time for Co-operators to become owners of their own collieries. An estate near to Wakefield, called the Upton Hall Estate, and on which it was the opinion of experts that a good quality of coal existed, could be bought, and this was the opportune time to purchase. Meltham Society was in favour of the scheme. Bills were posted and handbills distributed to the members announcing a Special Meeting to be held in the Oddfellows’ Hall on April 6th, 1900, to consider the advisability of taking up shares. At this meeting a motion to take up sixty £5 shares was carried unanimously. The support required to carry out this scheme was not forthcoming, and for lack of capital to enter upon a hazardous venture of this kind the scheme was allowed to lapse.
On April 23rd the General Meeting decided to increase the capital in the following Productive Societies to £50:— Dudley Bucket and Fender Society, Keighley Ironworks Society, Leicester Hosiery Society. Loan to the amount of £300 was also placed with the Colne Vale Corn Millers’ Society, and it was passed that we join the West Yorkshire Coal Federation and take up five £1 shares. This meeting also decided that the Society commence in the millinery business.
The annual Co-operative Congress was to be held this year at Cardiff, and Messrs. Joe Dixon and Thornton Wadsworth were appointed as delegates. Not being able to secure a suitable building for the holding of the exhibition of Co-operative productions, which is held in connection with the Congress, a temporary building had to be erected, and the Society subscribed £1 1s. for this purpose.
At a Special Meeting held on June 28th, 1900, it was decided to have the back yard paved with setts. The tender of Messrs. George Hirst & Son for £29 10s. was accepted.
The loan of £6 standing against the Evening Continuation Classes was at this time presented to them by the Society.
Preparations for the commencement of the millinery business were being pushed forward. Plans for the erection of a showroom had been sent out, and Messrs. Garlick Bros’, tender of £92 10s. was accepted for the joiner’s work, and Messrs. J. Preston & Sons for the decorating.
The building of more cottages on the vacant land at Wetlands had been under contemplation for several months. The Committee had been empowered to get plans prepared, and the work had been given to Mr. Carter, Architect (Meltham). At a Special General Meeting held on January 17th, 1901, plans were submitted for inspection, and it was decided to build fourteen cottages to plan known as No. 1. The successful contractors for the erection of the cottages were as follows:— Masons, Messrs. J. & J. Mellor, £1,525 14s.; joiners, Mr. J. M. Kinder, £631 9s. 6d.; plumbers, Mr. J. W. Kaye, £247 18s.; plasterers, Mr. Samuel Wilkinson, £143 18s; painting, Mr. L. Armitage, £33 12s.; ironwork, Mr. James Kilburn, £11 12s.; slating, Messrs. Pickles Bros., £164 5s 7d.; tiles, Messrs. Armitage & Armitage, £8 15s.; Mr. Edgar Lockwood, £2 9s.; gates, Mr. T. H. Raynor, £15 11s. 6d; total, £2,785 4s. 7d.
At the April Half-yearly Meeting the share capital in the Huddersfield Co-operative Brush Society was increased to £20, and a loan account was opened to the limit of £50 per member, the rate of interest to be 3 per cent per annum. It was also passed that the remuneration of the Committee be advanced £1 per member per half year. Messrs. J. Wilkinson and Wilson Brook were appointed as delegates to the Co-operative Congress to be held at Middlesbro’ in Whit-Week.
On June 15th a horse was purchased from Messrs. Clarke (Chesterfield) for the sum of £64.
At a meeting held on August 23rd for the purpose of receiving tenders for the painting of fourteen new cottages Mr. Lewis Armitage’s tender for £29 8s. was accepted.
No further event of importance being recorded to the end of 1901, we drop the curtain at the close of another ten years of the Society’s history.
The October report states that the membership had reached to almost 1,000, the exact number being 980, and the sales to the amount of £20,523.