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Coxhoe And Cornforth Co-operative Society Ltd

In 1920 William Wilson (treasurer of the Cornforth & Coxhoe Co-operative Society), wrote a brief account of its history in the form of a booklet ‘Jubilee Souvenir of Cornforth & Coxhoe Co-operative Society Ltd. 1870-1920’, published by Pelaw-on Tyne: Co-operative Wholesale Society’s Printing Works.

William Wilson

William Wilson

Men then employed at Tursdale Coke Ovens had heard about the Co-Operative in the Crook area.  They had a meeting at the Brickyard at Thinford Lane (then known as ‘Snowden’s Cabin’) with the idea of starting a store of their own.  After canvassing for support about one hundred promises were made.  Not all promises were kept but those that did gave a pound each to buy flour, tea, sugar and butter.  The society was formed in November, 1870.  Among the originators was Edward Collingwood, George Swinbank, Charles, Hunt, Thomas Bell, W Macdonald, Jos. Salmon, Jas Willoughby, William Cowburn, (Cow Close the early Years)Jnr. Coates, Robert Mowbry and William Dunn, with Charles Griffiths as secretary, and Anthony Scorer as president.  As nearly all the men lived in Cornforth and Cornforth Lane they named it Cornforth & Coxhoe Co-operative Society Ltd.

A shop or most likely a front room owned by Mr. Berriman next to the ‘Victoria Hotel’ on Cornforth Lane (now known as ‘The Cricketers’) was used when business began. Pictured below.

Coxhoe And Cornforth Co-op

Cornforth Lane Co-operative Situated Next To Victoria Hotel

The society eventually acquired more suitable premises between the ‘Tyneside Inn’ and the ‘Old Red Lion’ just below the W. Hy. Railway Station at Coxhoe , that way goods arriving by train could easily be unloaded into the store.  The manager at that time was Mr Sharp but he had to leave because of ill health.

The Old Red Lion

Old Red Lion On The Right

Membership in the society was increasing.  Balance sheets recorded  business of £60 per week, or ten shillings per member.  Usually the profits made by a store would benefit the shareholders, but in the Co-ops case any profits were shared with its members in the form of a ‘dividend’ or ‘divi’.  The profits were distributed in proportion to the amount spent in the store.  In this instance a dividend of 1s 6d was declared on members’ purchases and 1s in the £ was paid on non-members purchases.

About 1872  they moved again into a shop previously occupied by Robert Swinton and decided to have two committee members present at the quarters’ end stock taking.  John Lister and William Wilson were the society’s auditors.  They discovered discrepancies which prevented the payment of any dividend and left the society £200 in debt.  Shopmen were dismissed and a new manager was found.

Newcastle Courant Article

The Newcastle Courant reported the following court case 26th Oct 1877, which links to the Store & its founder members.

The manager of Haswell Co-operative Society, Tom Edwards recommended one of his own men, Mark Robinson as manager. The society made good progress, eventually needing bigger premises. A site next to the Primitive Chapel was bought from Mr. Morrison. The grocery department and manager’s living accommodation were on the ground floor, and the draperies upstairs. The warehouse, flour shop, stables and committee-room were found in the back of the premises. In 1887 two empty houses opposite the premises in the Long Row became the butchering department. This was later moved to the old ‘Queen’s Head’, otherwise known as the ‘Free and Easy’. The old cottages between the new premises and the butchering department were also purchased to make a continuous frontage from the manager’s house to the butchering department. The need for a field for cattle & horses were found when fifteen acres of land were offered from the executors of the late James Lockey and later from late Edward Collingwood’s (see Cow Close the early years) estate.

Coxhoe And Cornforth Co-op

Coxhoe And Cornforth Co-op

Cornforth And Coxhoe Co-operative
(Picture Taken From Brian Hall's Collection)

There was a trade depression between 1876-1878 when all collieries in the immediate neighbourhood, and Rosedale & Ferryhill Iron Company’s Works, closed down.  Some members went to other places; but nearly all wanted to withdraw their share capital in order to provide their families with food, so the committee had to enforce arule to limit the withdrawal of share capital.  Luckily some members stayed loyal and the society was able to allow withdrawals of one-half of what stood to the credit of each member, then later half of what remained.  Within twelve months the collieries were open again and members flocked back.

A new butchering department began in 1887, in two old empty houses in the long row, opposite the premises.  Later the old ’Queen’s Head’(better known then as the ‘Free and Easy’) was secured and Mr Lindsay, an architect from Bishop Auckland, prepared plans to alter the building.  Old cottages between the new premises and the butchering department were also purchased, so that they could if needed provide a continuous frontage from the Manager’s house to the butchering department.

The Co-op Butchery

The Co-op building can just be seen on the left of the photograph.   The bus is driving towards the Co-op butchery department with its buildings behind.

Around this time West Cornforth district had become keen to have a store for their residents.  A full meeting decided against this so West Cornforth decided to start their own society.  Around 1894 a new branch was opened at Trimdon Grange.  Ferryhill branch first opened in 1901 in rented premises, Fishburn was opened 1912 followed by the Kelloe Branch.

Fishburn Co-op

Fishburn Co-operative Branch

Kelloe Co-op

Kelloe Co-operative Branch

Trimdon Co-op

Trimdon Co-operative Branch

Ferryhill Co-op

Ferryhill Co-operative Branch

(Pictures taken from Jubilee Souvenir of Cornforth & Coxhoe Co-operative Society Ltd 1870-1929)

In 1980 and 1894 trade Directory of Coxhoe,  Mark Robinson is named as the store manager and Walter Macdonald as secretary, and according to the 1901 census, Thomas Keen was the Co-op tailor.  Isaac Berriman was the butcher then and would have used a horse and cart to make deliveries, his son Richard Berriman served on the Store Committee in the 1930s and 1940s.

Butchers Cart

Butcher and his cart

In the 1940’s and 1950’s the store departments were as follows: The upstairs departments were clothes, shoes and hardware and china, and managers offices; down stairs were carpets, lino and soft furnishings and groceries.

In what is now a cycle shop, formerly No 1 Store Cottages was the bakery and green grocery departments with Miss Bowan in charge.

At the other end of the cottages was the Butchering Department with buildings to accommodate livestock and slaughtering. Frank Heron and George Young were butchers managed by Jack Shotton (also leader of Coxhoe Silver Band).

Jack Shotton


Jack Shotton

The entrance for Jack Scorer’s cobbler department was on the left along the present drive.  Arthur Collingwood and the Griffiths family were shoe makers and cobblers. Right round the back of the store at Gatenby’s TV Repairs area were the stables and carts.

The long building near the footpath at the back of the buildings was the Store Hall, where dances and concerts took place. Vera Berriman remembers winning a prize as a clown in a fancy dress competition held there. Mr Johnson managed the store joiners and undertaker department in the building now known as Cubello’s.

Plaque On Undertakers Building

Plaque on the undertakers building

1950 Undertakers Bill

1950 bill from the undertakers

Newbottle Co-op Order Sheet

Order sheet from the Newbottle Co-op and would have been similar to that used a Coxhoe

In the 1940’s customers would have their orders taken by a Co-op agent such as Bobby Guite who came to the house.  Friday was pay-day when customers would pay for the previous week’s credit either in store or be collected by agents such as Charlie Barber who worked in the grocery department after he returned from the war. Your order delivered by the store horse and cart.

Co-operative Stores would give members dividend tokens or checks such as the one illustrated, showing the amount they had spent in store. These would be kept until ‘Divi Day’ when the stores dividend was declared, either quarterly or half yearly. Members would then take them into the store office to be redeemed for cash. If the dividend was 2/- in the pound, on £3 in purchases would result in 6/-.

Coxhoe Co-op One Pound   Coxhoe Co-op 1D Coin   Coxhoe Co-op 10/- Coin

After the WW1 colored tokens for use in the milk dept could be purchased at the Co-op and the value credited to your account.  The tokens could then be left out or given to the delivery man so no cash was involved and deliveries were speeded up.

Pint Milk Tokens

WW1 Coloured Milk Tokens

Horse And Cart At Coxhoe Gala

Store horse and cart at the Coxhoe Gala

Coxhoe Store Cart

Coxhoe Store Horse And Cart

Coxhoe And Cornforth Co-op

Coxhoe And Cornforth Co-op

(Pictures taken from Brian Hall’s collection)

The picture above shows women working in the store, but all were single and had to leave once they were married.

In 1942 the first self-service shop was opened by the London Co-operative Society.  Hetton Co-op went self-service in 1960.

Self Service Co-op

In 1942 the first self-service shop was opened by the London Co-operative Society.  (Picture taken from the Co-op Whole Society’s website)

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