NEWMARKET CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY
Although the Co-operative movement can be traced back to the 18th century, the real beginning of the movement as we now understand it was in 1844 with the formation of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers. Other societies had suffered from mal-administration and fraud and the view of limited financial benefit. The Rochdale Principle with its patronage dividend started a new trend and the idea spread throughout the north west and by 1860 there were over 200 societies.|
Other businesses began to worry about what they saw as unfair competition and started to bring pressure to bear on wholesalers to bycott the Co-op. This simply spurred the movement to expand into the Cooperative Wholesale Society.
The earliest record we have of the Co-op in Newmarket is the photograph above which shows the store in Market Street, the building currently (2020) a greengrocers, previously with a long history as a bookmakers. This was opened in 18th March 1899. The rent was £6-5s (£6.25) per quarter. The actual inaugural meeting of the Newmarket Co-operative Society was held on Wednesday 22nd March with Lord John Hervey as Chairman. £23 had been taken on the opening day, and the membership was already 234 and funds totalled £220. By December they had capital of £750 and were already considering building new premises.
Peter Norman found in his archives a brochure that he had come by some time ago, which was to celebrate the opening of an extension on Saturday March 11th 1933.
Perhaps the same van, before renovation and now in Ipswich Museum.
Adding a second storey to the existing shop was considered, but again the cost of stairs and lighting outweighed the advantages so they stayed single storey, avoiding un-necessary artificial lighting.
The business showed a keen interest in local affairs, as witness the following extract from the Cambridge Evening News, ferreted out by Rachel Wood.
Cambridge Daily News, Wednesday 14 July 1920, p3.
Mr. A. Challis and Mr. A. Fairweather, representing the General Committee, and Mr. C. Moss and Mr J. W. Thompson representing the Educational Committee, followed the
band, with the childrens' decorated bicycles. Then came the girls, followed the boys, and at the rear was the mare "Daisy,” with the Society's van, decorated,
taking the children who were too small to walk. The rear was brought up by the waggons from Stetchworth, kindly lent by the Earl of Ellesmere, and Mr. F. P. Harrison
for the occasion. On arrival at the grounds they found amusements awaiting them, including Thurston's roundabouts and swings. The children's sports were conducted by
a special committee, composed Mr. G. B. Poppy (chairman), Messrs. R. Baker, J. W. Thompson, A. Fairweather, W. Meekins, C. J. Moss, W. E. Carter, A. W. Leonard and
H. Holloway, and the whole programme was gone through with remarkable success, and ended with the ladies race.
The whole of the catering was done by the Society, and the wants of the 1,600 children were attended to by the tea committee, composed of Mr. F. W. Cardy (chairman), Mrs. Radford, Mrs. Jeacock, Mrs. Gillman, Mrs. Stracey, Mrs. Ashby and Mrs. Hubbard, and a large staff of Indies. The hot water arrangements were under the care of Messrs. Trigg, Jeacock and L. A. Green. The adult section was catered for by the employees, and everyone worked, including the secretary, Mr. A. Challis, with the utmost endeavour to make the event a gigantic success, which it turned out to be. It was estimated that 3,200 children and adults entered the field by ticket before 7 p.m.
From the left, general provisions, offices, drapery, bakery, confectionery.
In addition a branch was opened on Exning Road (recorded by Kelly's directory in 1933), on the site of what is now (2020) the InaSpin launderette. Only this poor photo has been found.
On Granby Street, where the yellow brick houses are now, it was menswear and shoes to the corner with All Saints Road, then along All Saints Road with the kitchenware and furnishings, followed by the butchery near the corner of Queen Street and the dairy on the corner and a short way up Queen Street. Of course over the years the various departments were moved around the site as Peter Norman's photos here show.
One aspect of each department was something seldom seen today. There were no tills, instead the sales assistant would put the sales ticket and the customer's money inside a small container, perhaps 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter, twisting each end to seal it. Then it was placed into type of hatch at the end of a tube. Then by pneumatic power, it was sucked away to the central cash office. There the staff would unload the container, and put in a receipt and any necessary change, and it was returned to the department in a similar manner. I cannot remember whether it was a twin tube or single tube mechanism, both were available. In fact I am unsure as to where the actual cash office was, but I believe it was upstairs in the offices between the drapery and the confectionery, adjacent to the bakery. The cash transit was by the Dart system..here is an advert from 1947.
The Roman Catholic Church was next to the Prince of Wales until 1966, and next to that came a petrol station which was also part of the Co-op for a time.
Later a large furniture store and enlarged dairy was built next door to All Saints Church, later to become the Willie Thorne Snooker Centre and a residential development, Bunbury Court.
The next move was to 116 High Street, where clothing, bedding and kitchenware was available. This shop facilitated entrance from the High Street and exit to Wellington Street via what was the Wellington Yard. The premises were the site of Newmarket's first supermarket "Fine Fare", which in turn became "Elmo" and after Co-Op were "Living" at the time of a serious fire in 1988. The premises are now (2020) Edinburgh Woollen Mill to the rear and, at the front, Peacocks. So far no photograph has been found of this period.
The East Of England Co-Op Funeral Services then opened an addition funeralcare department in Wellington Street, in 2017, by the car park.
The Co-op maintains its grocery presence in the town still with a store at 2-5 Elizabeth Parade on the Scaltback estate, where they have combined four units. (see next image)
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