was born in Bury about the year 1850, although the present Society
did not see the light of day until five years later. The
movement has increased with a rapidity which must fill every
thinking man with astonishment. It has advanced by leaps and
bounds, until contemplation of what it is and what it has
accomplished fills one with amazement. Great as its
achievements are, its possibilities for future usefulness are still
greater, and its ultimate development can scarcely yet be foretold.
During the past fifty years many arbitrary laws, which tended
to hinder this progress, have been swept from the Statute Book, and
many others, more salutary in their bearing, and having as their
avowed object the encouragement of the growth of social
combinations, have been enacted.
Trade Unions, Friendly Societies, Building Societies, and
other kindred organizations have sprung up all over the country, and
the people of Bury have seen a fair number of such institutions
established in their midst, all tending in the direction of mutual
self-help amongst the people.
Whilst we gladly welcome all institutions having these
objects in view, we must give first place to the Co-operative
movement, among the agencies which have wrought for improvement.
Beginning it did in a small way, and having to fight for very life
against all sorts of opposition, it is found to-day occupying an
impregnable position. Philanthropists and political reformers
alike are staggered at its vastness, and at the possibilities which
still open out for its future developments. Built on such a
wide and safe foundation, its onward march has been regular and
consistent, and we may well ask to what heights may not prudence,
honesty and energy raise the superstructure. Dangers in the
future must arise from within; the strife against outward foes has
been fought and won. If Co-operators to themselves are true,
the complete success of the movement, and with it the complete
emancipation of the workers of this country, is assured.
Personal selfishness and neglect of the common good alone can
do much damage to the cause. The members have now a great
lever within their reach, and may look forward to the day when true
brotherhood will be a real force in the world, and when all
distinctions, except those of merit and high attainment in the cause
of progress, shall be abolished.
In conclusion, I beg to tender my thanks to all who have
aided in the production of this book. Especially would I
mention Mr. George Yates for the loan of an interesting book on the
Society, compiled from a report made by him in 1884, and containing
valuable information of the working of the Society up to that date;
to the History Committee for many valuable suggestions and facts; to
Mr. Lonsdale, the cashier, and Mr. Wild, the manager, for their
willing and efficient help in many ways; and also to the old friends
still with us who were amongst the pioneers of the movement, and who
seemed to enjoy recounting their early trials and victories for my