Nominated by: Chris Geliher
Where: 5 Taylor Road, Stretford
The Co-operative Society is usually traced back to 1844 and the famous Rochdale Pioneers. Co-operative stores spread rapidly, especially in industrialising towns in the Midlands and North of England. To ensure the quality and price of supplies, the Co-operative Wholesale Society was established in Manchester in 1863 and by the 1880s it had a tea plantation in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), a butter depot in Denmark and factories and farms across Britain.
Membership of Co-operative Societies reached 8.9 million by 1939 and in 1960 it was the largest retailer of groceries in the country. Since then, its fortunes have faded in the face of fierce competition from stores like Tesco and Sainsburys, but there has been a recent revival, in part based on an emphasis of Fairtrade goods.
Co-operative stores were generally quite small and sold mostly groceries and hardware, but Societies in larger towns and cities often had Central Stores, which in many ways resembled department stores in their organisation and the range of goods sold. Branch stores carried the name of the local Society and often the branch number in tiles set into the façade of the building.
By the late nineteenth century, groceries in tins and packets were being stacked high both in the windows and inside the shop. Together with posters announcing special promotions they created striking visual displays which often included many brands still recognisable today. Counter service remained important in many branches well into the post-war era, although larger stores were increasingly converted to self-service from the 1950s onwards. By this time, shop fronts were often curtain glass, but instantly recognisable from the distinctive turquoise livery and logo.
Chris writes about the Taylor Street store that:
I’ve known the shop for 65 years, it is a constant in the area. It has been a Co-op since 1903 and based on my research is actually the Co-op’s oldest surviving shop in, at least, the Manchester and Salford area. I think that serving a community for 116 years and counting deserves some sort of recognition and hope the Co-op is included in the 100