History of the Meltham Industrial Co-operative Trading Society Limited (1911) - Jubilee Celebrations

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History of the Meltham Industrial Co-operative Trading Society Limited: Jubilee 1861-1911 (1911) by A. Haigh


Before the close of the year 1910 the Committee had under consideration as to how the Jubilee should be celebrated. To arouse some interest amongst the members’ children and the members generally, it was proposed to hold an Essay Competition for members’ children under seventeen years of age; subject, “The Best Method of Celebrating the Jubilee.” Six prizes were offered, as follows:— First, 10s.; second, 8s.; third, 6s.; fourth, 4s.; fifth, 2s.; sixth, 1s. Leaflets announcing the competition and conditions were printed and distributed from the various schools in the district; the essays to be sent in on or before January 2nd, 1911.

The number of competitors was disappointing, seven papers only being sent in for examination. The task of the adjudicator (Mr. J. S. Armitage, Huddersfield) was a light one, and he had no difficulty in deciding the awards. In his remarks he stated that, on the whole, the papers were good, and that the best papers showed merit in their composition. The Committee in their deliberations on carrying out the celebrations no doubt received some help and suggestions from these papers.

After much discussion and due consideration it was finally decided that the Jubilee should be celebrated as follows:— A history of the Society to be written and presented to each member in book form. A handsome teapot to be presented to each member, and mugs to all members’ children under fourteen years of age, the teapots and mugs showing a view of the Society’s premises on the one side and on the other side a badge with the following inscription: “The Meltham Industrial Co-operative Trading Society Limited. A Memento of Society’s Jubilee, 1861 to 1911.” A Children’s Demonstration and Gala Day to take place on the first Saturday in July. On the second Saturday all members of the Society and their husbands or wives, sixty-five years or over, to be invited to tea and entertained in the evening. Preparations for these events occupied much of the Committee's time for several months, and, as the 1st of July approached, all was in readiness. The frontage of the buildings was gaily decorated with shields, flags, and coloured draperies. A white scroll, lettered in red, and extending from one end of the building to the other, declared to all who saw it that it was the Society's Jubilee, and that the sales in 1861 amounted to £3,600, and in 1911 to £48,000. Much attention and labour had been given by the assistants to the internal and window decorations, and both inside and outside had a gay and neat appearance, and the display was very creditable throughout. Three wagons were decorated with goods from the Grocery, Drapery, and Green Fruit Departments, which were much admired in going round in the procession. The stablemen also spent much time and energy in getting up their horses, harness, fittings, &c., which added very much to the brightness of the procession.

The morning of July 1st, which was the children's day, opened out very unpropitiously. Showery weather prevailed, and the outlook was dark and gloomy. The children were timed to meet at two o’clock to form into procession, and so late as one o’clock a shower of rain came on much heavier than any previous ones, and there was every appearance of a spoilt day, but happily the unexpected happened. After a shower of about a quarter of an hour's duration the sun shone forth in all its brilliancy, and from this time the day continued to be beautifully fine.

Fully three-quarters of an hour before the appointed time groups of prettily dressed children, with faces beaming with pleasure, could be seen making their way from all parts of the village to the place of assemblage at the back of the Stores. By two o'clock over 400 girls and close upon 400 boys had assembled to take part in the procession.

Preceded by the Meltham Mills Brass Band, and marshalled by the President (Mr. Holroyd) and Vice-President (Mr. Batley), the procession started off through the village by way of Towngate, Station Street, Westgate, Greensend, Calmlands, and returning to the field.

A good many of the inhabitants, and many strangers, witnessed the procession, and declared it the best that had yet taken place. At one part of the route each child was presented with a tea ticket, tea being provided at the Oddfellows’ Hall and Liberal Hall.

On returning to the field the children’s sports were commenced, which consisted of the following events:—

  1. 50 yards flat race, under 8 years.
  2. Egg-and-spoon race, 8 to 11 years.
  3. 80 yards flat race, 12 to 14 years.
  4. Potato-gathering race, 12 to 14 years.
  1. 50 yards flat race, under 8 years.
  2. Potato-gathering race, 8 to 11 years.
  3. 80 yards flat race, 12 to 14 years.
  4. Obstacle race, 12 to 14 years.

After a few races had taken place the children were marched off to tea — girls to the Oddfellows’ Hall and boys to the Liberal Hall. Having partaken of a good substantial tea, they returned to the field and the sports were resumed. A Pelaw Boot Polishing Competition for boys and a Pelaw Liquid Metal Polishing Competition for girls had been arranged. The value of the prizes for both competitions were as follows:— First prize, value 7s. 6d.; second prize, value 5s.; third prize, value 3s. Much interest was taken in these events, which caused much amusement. A “Hermes” Baking Competition also took place, prizes being given as follows for the best loaf baked from “Hermes” flour purchased at the Stores:— First prize, ten 3½lb. bags of “Hermes;” second prize, eight 3½lb. bags of “Hermes;” third prize, six 3½lb. bags of “Hermes.” There were four entries only for this event.

Helme Church.

During the afternoon and evening Punch and Judy performances and ventriloquial entertainments were given at intervals, and the band played various selections of music, and at dusk played for dancing. Permission had been obtained from the vicar and warden to have the church bells rung by hand. A set of competent ringers were engaged specially for the occasion, and merry peals were rung throughout the day, giving pleasure and enjoyment to all who heard them. All the arrangements were got through very satisfactorily, and nothing occurred to mar anyone’s pleasure. At the close of the day’s proceedings both young and old appeared to have had a day of thorough enjoyment, and from commencement to finish the first day’s celebrations were a great success. On Wednesday and Thursday, July 5th and 6th, teapots and mugs were distributed to the members and children.

Saturday, July 8th, was the day fixed for the Old Members’ Treat. Over 200 tickets were issued, with an invitation to the Oddfellows’ Hall to partake of tea and to be entertained in the evening. With a few exceptions, all put in an appearance. The time announced for tea to take place was 4-30, but long before this time the tables were filled up with happy old folks, who chatted away gaily until all was in readiness. The tables were well laden with good things, and artistically decorated with art muslin and plants, and at the time of commencement the scene presented a picture not easily forgotten, the expressions on the old people’s faces denoting they were in for a good time.

For the entertainment in the evening the following artistes had been engaged:— The Crosland Moor Public Handbell Ringers, Mr. John Drake, humorist (Meltham), Mr. and Mrs. H. S. Kaye (Meltham), Mr. John Mellor, accompanist (Meltham). An abundant supply of tobacco and pipes, aerated waters, and fruits of all kinds were provided to be partaken of during the entertainment.

At 6-30 Mr. G. H. Holroyd (President) opened the meeting by giving a hearty welcome to the old folks, touching briefly upon the conditions they had passed through and the conditions of the young folk of to-day, also relating to various phases of the Society’s history. He hoped everyone would partake of the good things provided for them, and that they would have a most enjoyable evening.

The various items in the programme were gone through and much appreciated. One item, “The Holmfirth Anthem,” given by the handbell ringers, received special applause. Being a well-known refrain, the audience joined in singing at various parts of the performance.

As the evening was drawing to a close, the Chairman expressed that he thought a word or two from one of the audience would be very much appreciated, and he called upon Mr. John Wilkinson, who at various times had occupied the position of President of the Society for fifteen years. Mr. Wilkinson stated that he was present at the inaugural meeting in 1861 at Royd Edge Mill. He spoke of Mr. Hirst as an ideal employer, and the deep interest he took in his workpeople. He referred to the early days of the Society and its difficulties, and paid a high tribute to the Co-operative Wholesale Society as a purchasing centre. His remarks throughout were very well received, and he expressed himself as being proud to have been called upon to say a few words.

Immediately afterwards the meeting terminated, and, on leaving, the old folks expressed themselves as having been well entertained, and wished they could have it repeated every year and never mind the dividend. Thus the Jubilee celebrations, which had been carried out most successfully, were brought to a close.