THE purpose of
this book is to celebrate the Jubilee of the Leeds Industrial
Co-operative Society, and to set forth, for the encouragement of
others, how a few working men, with no resources save good sense and
good determination, founded the greatest co-operative store in the
world. This is a large thing to say, but it is statistically
true. To others who joined the originators, or have been their
successors in carrying the movement forward, high credit is due.
All who have organised, year by year, down to this day, the
surprising operations which have obtained such notable success are
equally entitled to the repute which belongs to the great
The Directors have done me the honour to ask me to write this
Jubilee History, from 1847 to 1897. A story which shall
satisfy the views of 37,000 members (the number actually upon the
books) is an adventurous undertaking. However much interest
the subject has for me, I should hesitate to attempt it, did I not
know the abiding tolerance of co-operative judgment. The
Directors have prescribed no course, nor have they imposed any
conditions, or qualification of opinion to be expressed; therefore,
not they, but the writer alone, is responsible for what is said.
Where the ideas of many have to be taken into account, my rule is
not to consider what I am expected to say, but what ought to be
said, as facts appear to warrant, and the wide interest of the
members and co-operative principle require.
Lancashire men are regarded as possessing solid
vigour, as the rise of the Rochdale Pioneers has shown; but the men
of Yorkshire are accounted the most adroit and impassable of the
English race. But the greater the capacity the greater the
good sense, and upon that I rely.
The attention I have had to give to the records
of the Society has given me a new conception of the character,
merits, and example of the Leeds Pioneers, who have not been
estimated as they deserve. Their incessant efforts to make
clear to the working class that co-operation meant something higher
than mere commercialism; their splendid endeavours to warm the
frozen heart of ignorant selfishness, as cold and obstructive as the
ponderous icebergs Nansen encountered on his heroic and perilous
way—have never been exceeded, and never equalled in their
continuity. Met by the charge of being "sentimental"—a term
silly people use to disparage what they do not understand, or do not
want—the leaders of the Leeds Society never despaired and never
desisted. They have always regarded intelligence as a sound
investment, and have often advocated profit-sharing as an integral
part of co-operation, as a self-acting store movement.
I knew co-operation when it was born. I
stood by its cradle. In every journal, newspaper, and review
with which I was connected, I defended it in its infancy, when no
one thought it would live. For years I was its sole friend and
representative in the press. I have lived to see it grow to
robust and self-supporting manhood. To me it is no mean
pleasure that the last co-operative work I am likely to write, is
the history of the triumphs of the Leeds Society.
As it becomes more widely known by its Jubilee
History, its remarkable distinction will be acknowledged. It
stands next to Rochdale as the foremost English co-operative
association, and surpasses it in its valiant conflicts, its
organisation, its marvellous gains, and vast army of members who
gather around its standard-bearers.
G. J. H.
Before the Society Began.
Origin of the Society (1847)
The First Committee of Organisation (1847)
The Wonderful Rules (1847)
The First Directors (1847)
The Fifty-Eight Pioneers of Leeds (1847)
HISTORICAL CHRONICLE YEAR BY YEAR.
A Novel Plan of Distribution—Co-operators in a Minority.
Trenchant Resolutions—A Forty Weeks' Levy—No Power to Buy Land—A
Timely Discovery—Deadly Adulteration—Dr. Charlie's Courage—The Peril
of Cheap Selling—Co-operative Stores a Public Necessity.
The Double Share Rule Rescinded—The First Accident—A Friendly
Miller—Bankers' Confidence—Golden Words of Counsel.
Contentiousness Creeping About—The Ideas which incite It.
"Something Wrong"—Democratic Duty in Complaint—Co-operative
Qualities—Irreconcilables Reconciled by a Real Audit—Mr. Plint's
Masterly Examination—His Wise and Bold Counsel.
A Remarkable Audit—The Trouble of Purity—Disadvantage of
Cheapness—Dividends should be Palpable—Concealed
Profits—Remunerative Prices Adopted—Care in Terms Good Policy—The
Old Man and his Three Stones of Flour.
Remunerative Prices Produce Profit and Content—Principle at any
Price—The Field of Co-operation Enlarged—Mr. Gaunt's
Repartees—Directors Risk Misjudgment—Utopianism comes
True—Appearance of the People's Mill—Mr. Bovill's Bill—Stationary
Men and Forward Men—Wild Democrats at Large.
Violence, Want of Skill—Cat's Paw Agents—Mr. Gaunt Holds the
Floor—The Crimean War Reaches to the Leeds Mill—Advice to go Outside
the Movement Taken—Dribbling.
A Tame Year—An Anti-Adulteration Society —Lloyd Jones's Far-Seeing
Dangers of Premature Experiments—A Store Resolved Upon—Co-operative
Maxims—Complaints Taken by the Throat—An Investigation Committee—The
Accusations Disproved—A Transformation Scene—Directors Dismissed—The
New Directors Follow the same Policy for which their Predecessors
were Removed—The First Shop Opened in Briggate—A Fighting Year—A
Trustee comes to the Front—John Holmes takes the Floor—The
Parliamentary Inquiry—Mr. Emerson's Cogent Evidence.
Frogs About—Organisation of the Agents—A Penitent Agent—Conspiracy
of Agents—The Briggate Store Languishes—Victory of Ignorance—The
Briggate Store Dies—A Great Temptation—Another Vindicatory Audit.
An Amazing Announcement—Plato's Republic Terrifies the Wise Men of
Leeds—Sir Edward Baines on the Parallelogram—Political Economy
Opposed to Co-operation—Rochdale Visited—The Agents Superseded—A new
"Fangle" Pays better than the old Fangle—Mr. Prentis's Services.
The Ovens of Discontent—Revolutions of Progress—The Worker his Own
Helper—Members for the First Time Suggest a New Department—Trustees
Counsel Participation in Profit—Cheapness Means Low Dividends.
The Pamphlet of an Enthusiast—A Rival Corn Mill—The Trustees'
Report—The Warehouse over the Stables—Storekeepers' Share in
Profits—Co-operators Against Retreating before Surmountable
Obstacles—A Servant causes a Division—Letters to the "Express."
Survival of the Fittest in Co-operation—The Meat Selling
Difficulty—In Search of Prosperity in Vacant Places and Street
Corners—Garibaldi Funds Recovered.
The "Fangle" Terror Over—A Tealess Tea—A Women's Guild Wanted—The
Hospitality of Co-operation—Drapery Droops—Generous Sympathy with
the American Cause.
Smooth Water—The Clothing Ship Becalmed—Members Determine to Keep it
An Irritating Item—Intricacies of Trusteeship—The Device of Free
Ticket Meetings—Withdrawals from Necessity and Ill-Will—Offers of
Capital by Members—A New Wonder comes to Sight—Profit-Sharing
Beneficial Absentees—New Name for a Ferocious Department—Prof. F. W.
Newman's Argument—An Incredible Class of Purchasers—A Former Device
Queen Elizabeth's Sagacity—Thought for Servants—The First
Flood—Benefit of a Reserve Fund.
Discontent Divine and Different—Coal Trade Begun—Flour the Staple of
the Society's Life—Test Ordered—Disembodied Agents Walk Abroad—Why
Stores Lagged Behind the Mill.
Manager Dismissed—Storm Drums Run Up—A Cyclone nearly Blows the
Society Over—The Directors in a Maelstrom.
General Manager Proposed—Money Abounds—Large Forfeits—Sixteen Buyers
at large in the Markets—The Directors have a Plan—The Coal Plant
Bought—Credit Tried—Exploded, but not Killed.
No Independence with Debt—Associative Conferences—Advantages of a
Buying Society—An End of Bovill.
Growth All Round—Stores too Small—Customers Wait for Hours to be
Served—More Powerful Machines Ordered—Increase in Turnover and
Profits—Shorter Hours Conceded to Mill Hands.
An Honourable Vote—Singular Education Contest—Vocal Worms Crawl
Out—Eloquent Figures—A Prophecy comes True deemed a sign of Insanity
A Year of Principle—Stores Arise Around—Ready-Made Clothing
Begun—Boot Manufacture Commenced—Storekeepers Accorded
Profits—Support given to Co-operative Workshops—Large Grants—House
Building for Members—Producers more Meritorious than Consumers—A
Consistent Co-operative Resolution — Striking Report of the
Educational Committee —"Leeds Mercury" Office Bought—Financial
Prosperity and Speculation—Demonstrations Tell—A Memorable Opening—A
Splendid Procession—Notable Speakers at Night—Increase in Members
and Profits—The Tallerman Resolution—Amazing Investment in the
Tipton Green Colliery—£19,000 Lost—The Morley Colliery a Candidate
for Surplus Money—A Prudent Amendment—A Convalescent Home
Proposed—The Credit Snake still Crawling About—A Further Education
Vote—Mr. Fawcett becomes Cashier.
New Orleans Company Floaters come Leeds way—Profit-Sharing
Suspended—The Mill Enlarged Again—More Land Bought—Fifty-one
Cottages Built—Carlton Hill Estate Bought—The Convalescent Home
"Inopportune"—The Lion Estate under Consideration.
Dolour in all the Stores—Directors Check the Panic but not the
Weeping—The philosophy of Investment—Another Education Tumult—The
Mistake that Ignorance is Harmless—Increase of Stores, Houses, and
Land—Handsome Consideration for Distressed Members—New Machinery
Costs £4,000—Official Shyness of the Meat Trade —Directors Better
Paid—A General Store Visitor Appointed—His Multitudinous Duties.
Another Educational Battle—Ignorance Wins—More Stores Opened—Flour
Mill Machinery again Increased —Its Producing Power Doubled.
Further Battle for Education—The Propagandists Defeated—An Indignant
Night—A Sagacious Motion—Thieves Discovered—Generosity of the
Society at Home and Abroad—Barebone Reports—Growth all Along the
Line—Foundation of an Annual Holliday.
Generosity a Form of Progress—List of Grants to Charities—A Bakery
Springs Up in a Night—Its Previous Tardiness—The Prudence of taking
in the "Co-operative News"—Non-buying Members Disappear—A Wise
Device—Death of a Valued President—The Business of the Society
Running on Castors.
Services of Directors Recognised—Congress invited to Leeds—A Library
and Newsroom Established—Mr. Fawcett Appointed Secretary and
Cashier—A Board Clerk Elected—Another Asperser Extinguished by
Facts—The Composition of Pure Butter—Meat Selling still
"Inopportune"—The Great Snow Night—Loss of Two Leaders—The Society
The Great Conflagration—Costly Eccentricity of the Town
Brigade—Singular Origin of the Fire—The Process of Flour Making—An
"undesirable" Motion —Building at Carlton Hill—Report in Favour of
the Wholesale—A Full Dress Debate—An Amalgamated Manager—Forged
Checks—The New Bakery Opened—An Inundation of Money—Co-operative
Watches—The Thirteenth Co-operative Parliament Meet in
Leeds—Testimony of a Member of Congress.
The Monthly Record—Idle Capital in an Active Store—Profitable
Suggestiveness—Drapery and Clothing Clubs Devised—Rapidity of
Restoration—Friendly Millers—A Splendid Procession—Career of a
Drayman—Effect of the Demonstration—Participation with Industry
Still in the Air.
The Law of Circumspection—A Tribute to Mr. Tabbern—Success of the
Mill—A New Keel on the Water—The Leeds Old Post Office Bought.
Cost of the Central Stores—The "Co-operative Traveller
Abroad"—Description of the New Building—Its Fairy Scene at Night—The
Locomotive on its March—Discussions on the Sky Line—Then and Now—The
Oldham Example—Purchase of the Victoria Bridge Coal Wharf—Scenes on
the River and on the Bank—How Profits are Appropriated.
Activity of the Fundless Educational Committee—Co-operation among
Creatures of Land, Water, and Air—The Long-looked-for Motion—Mr.
Fawcett's Calculations—Extension of Depreciation—No Falling Off in
No Sun of Freedom Shines on Ignorance—An Educational Levy Carried at
Last—The Contest of the Fractions—The Lowest Adopted—Mr. Herbert
Spencer's Judgment—An Ignorant Son Fetches less per lb. than one
Educated—Intelligence a Paying Investment—Meat Sales
Re-commenced—All Sorts of Progress being made in this Triumphant
A Year of Light—Two Temples—The Stores Manager Succeeds—A Perilous
Investment Rejected—A Golden Item in the Balance Sheet—Forty Years
in the Wilderness—A Splendid Retrospect.
The Dawn Visible Now—Leeds Far Ahead of Rochdale—Death of Mr.
Teasdill—Presentation to Mr. Prentis—Story of Hebden Bridge—Capital
to Spare— Amenities to Labour—Good Results all Round.
Peculiarities of the Plum Mind—Nine Advantages of Local
Co-operation—Commencement of the Women's Guild in Leeds—Their Nine
Branches—Social Effects of Profit-Sharing—New Stores Arising in all
Directions—Budget Difficulties of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of
the Society—Good Items.
The Abattoir Year—The Foundation Stone Laid—Its Opening in
October—Unsurpassed in Completeness—Its Amazing Business—A Small
Fire at the Corn Mill—New Premises to be Purchased in Albion
Street—New Enterprises, New Alterations, and New
Investments—Indifference to Prosperity.
The Pleasant Monotony of Success—Government Report on Co-operative
Profit-Sharing —Meadow Road Buildings—The Cricket Field, Camp Field
Mill, and other Purchases—Balance Sheets Enlarged—An Old Prophet
The Leeds Ship and its Tonnage of Dividends—The Farming Problem
Debated—Conditions of the Leeds Education Rate—Participation, a New
Sense—The Wholesale, the Two Sides of the Question—Yeast and Eggs
commenced to be Imported—The Spiral Store of Elford Grove—Pleasant
Caprices of Profit.
Perplexity of the New Zealander in Leeds—The Street with the
National Name—Public Taste in Stores—Death of a Foremost
Advocate—Fire and Flood Cricket Field Habitations—The Leeds
Musicians at the Crystal Palace—Trade Depression but no Profit
The Auxiliary Stores—Architectural Taste Economy in Business—Two
Essentials of a Co-operative Store—Obliviousness of Architects—The
Distinction of the Day—Peripatetic Shops—What Mr. Maxwell "Has Never
Been"—The Strawberry Store—A Meat Employees' Union—A Clearing House
for Latent Members—Lucid Balance Sheets—Great Growth of the
Society—No Educational Insolvency Now.
Constitutional Dissatisfaction—Responsibilities of popularity—"The
Leeds Resolution"—Dies by its Own Hand—Distinction of the Leeds
Musicians—New Stores Opened—New Memorial Stones Laid—Another
Revelations of Industrial Photography—The First Flour Shop—Half a
Century of Progress—A Jubilee Contemplated—Marshall Street
Buildings—The Parallelogram Come at Last—New Factories Began—The
Debating Classes in Operation—Additions to Mill and Abattoir—New
Estates Being Purchased—New Streets and Terraces Being
Built—Prodigious Business—Another Marvellous Year.
Looking Backwards—The Famous Past—Disadvantages of Pioneer
Times—Triumphant Days—Opportunities of Rule Revising—Business and
Progress the Order of the Day—Loss of an Old Leader—Generosity of
the Society—Its Support of Co-operative Workshops—Field Club
Studies—Scenic Changes Produced by Co-operators in Leeds—Six Hundred
and Fifty Houses Built—The City Within a City—What 37,000 Members
Mean—The Distinction of Leeds—What Co-operation Really
Does—Marvellous Results— A Million of Trade—One Hundred and Fifty
Thousand Pounds of Profit—The President of the Jubilee.
The Leeds Record.
Changes in Leeds During Fifty Years.
The Society's Productive Operations.
Characteristics of the Society .