Halifax Co-operative Society

Scope and Content

This series consists of records created by Halifax Co-operative Society. Including records of the General Committee, records of the Education Committee, records of the Buildings Department, members' records, employee records and legal records.

Administrative / Biographical History

The first meeting regarding Co-operation in Halifax took place on 15 Jan 1849 when 40 persons met to form the 'Halifax Co-operative Trading Society.' They began by selling soap and sugar. However, this scheme was unsuccessful and folded after five months.

In Sep 1850 a second attempt at Co-operation was started. This time under the name of 'Halifax Working Men's Co-operative and Provident Society.' The first meeting took place at the home of a Scottish Weaver, Richard Horsfall, at Back Foundry Street. The first name on the members' list was Mr Benjamin Aaron. The Society started by buying items in bulk and distributing them in small quantities amongst their members. In Jan 1851 the Society moved to a shop in Cow Green. Its first President was Mr John Swift; treasurer Mr John Dennis; trustees Messrs Ben Aaron, N Dobson, and John Chaffer; auditors Messrs C Barker and JOhn Dobson; and board of management Messrs Kendal, Collins, Buckle, Ewan, and Wood; secretary Mr John Culpin. The storekeepers were Mr Dan Coton and Mr Joseph Foreman. In 1851 there were 231 members.

The Society struggled for the first 9 years but after 1860 the membership started to rise steadily. In 1860 membership was 1374. Around this time the society began opening branch stores, the first being at Northgate and by 1863 there were eleven branches. In 1861 the Society was registered as the Halifax Industrial Society. By 1870 membership was 6600. The Society went into butchery and acquired High Sutherland Farm. In 1874 the Co-operative Congress was held in Halifax and was attended by prominent Co-operators such as Thomas Hughes, Edward Vansittart Neale, G J Holyoake, and William Nuttall.

By the time of the society's golden jubilee in Feb 1901 there were 11,400 members. In 1930 Siddal Society amalgamated with Halifax Society, as did the Luddenden and District Society in 1933 and the Illingworth Society in 1938. In 1949 the society opened premises at the Arcade Royale which fronted on Commercial Street, King Edward Street and Southgate. The arcade included over twenty shops, offices, and a billiard hall.

In 1946 the Society changed its name to Halifax Co-operative Society. In 1964 the Society transfered its engagments to the Co-operative Retail Services.

Sources: 'The Path of Progress', by Desmond Flanagan (1951); 'Halifax Industrial Society Limited Jubilee Souvenir', by Montague Blatchford (1901).