South Crosland and Netherton Co-operative society

Scope and Content

This series consists of records created by the South Crosland and Netherton Co-operative Society. The records include three Directors minute books, one new members book, seven half yearly report and balance sheets and one booklet of day to day instructions from the President of the society to his secretary.

Administrative / Biographical History

After an initial, abortive attempt, to found a co-operative shop in Netherton in the 1830s, this society was successfully launched in 1840 as the Netherton Industrial Society. It started its legal existence as a trading company to avoid the prejudices of the law of the day, the shop sign bearing the name of Mr. John Ratcliffe; it was only in 1870 that the committee voted to openly adopt the democratic principles of a Co-operative society.

In 1845 the chairman of the committee was John Ratcliffe, John Sykes was vice chairman, and John Beaumont and Joseph Kaye were trustees. Other members included Benjamin Todd, Abraham Sharp, Henry Bradley, Humphrey Gledhill, Jonathon Lunn, John Bamforth, John Blakely, Thomas Bottomley and Edwin Beaumont. The shop premises were originally located on Netherton's market place. By 1855 the membership had grown to over 100 members, and by 1923, 600. In 1893 the directors voted in favour of changing the name of the society to incorporate nearby South Crosland and the society became officially known as the ‘South Crosland and Netherton Co-operative Society'.

The status of working class families in the ‘Hungry Forties', with low wages and irregular work, was the driving force behind the creation of the society, designed to ease the collective burden. Originating as a general shop, it expanded steadily throughout the nineteenth century to include a butchers (complete with slaughterhouse and cottage), grocers, drapery and cobblers, as well as holding land tenancies and a diverse investment portfolio. On the outbreak of the First World War, the society resolved to keep prices at their pre-war level, despite rapid inflation, as long as those stocks lasted. In 1916 the Society invested in farmland, Sun End Farm at South Crosland, and employed a Bailiff for the day to day running. Due to continual divisions between the directors and members regarding the direction the farm should take, the venture made no profit and was eventually sold off in 1923, at a loss of £2,440. In 1929 the society purchased additional property for a Chemists.

As well as business, the society also played a large part in public life, donating money to local hospitals and war memorials and organising social functions, such as regular tea parties, a 'Wireless Demonstration' in 1923, and an outing to a play for school children in 1937.

At a special conference in Huddersfield on 11th April, 1942, Mr. F. Mellor, president of the South Crosland and Netherton co-operative, argued against merging with other societies in the Huddersfield area. This idea had been put forward with the idea of increasing economic efficiency in the face of wartime restrictions. The proposition was widely rejected and South Crosland and Netherton continued independently until 1964 when it merged with the Berry Brow branch. Berry Brow, in turn, became part of Co-operative Retail Services in 1968.