Leigh Friendly Co-operative Society

Scope and Content

This series consists of records created by Leigh Friendly Co-operative Society including specifications for work to be done in the erection of new central premises, a bill of quantities contract and correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

Leigh Friendly Co-operative Society was started in Jun 1857 by a group of men who had been meeting for around two years as a mutual improvment class. They met at the corner of Sugar Street and Newton Street. The first 9 members of the Society were Enoch Holt, Richard Jackson, Robert Wainwright, Thomas Dickinson, William Dickinson, John Longton, George Wilkinson and William Ridyard. They began by selling coffee and tea amongst the members that they purchased from the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society.

When they had gained more capital they began selling additional groceries and opened 3 nights a week. By the end of the year they had 78 members. They quickly outgrew the origianl premises and began looking for a shop to rent. However, they found this very diffiuclt due to opposition from other local tradesmen. In 1858 they secured a shop in Bradshawgate. The rules of the Society were enrolled on 18 Jan 1858 at which point they had 98 members. By Mar 1858 they had begun opening the shop during the day and later that year opened a reading room and an additional grocery store higher up Bradshawgate. By the end of 1858 they 280 members.

Progress was rapid and in 1859 the Society opened branches at Albion Street, Astley and Lowton. In 1860 branches were opened at Bedford, Glazebury and in 1861 Golborne. Further branches were opened in 1862 in Atherton and in 1863 at West Leigh and Newton le WIllows. 1863 also saw the opening of the newly built corn mill with warehouses and a retail shop adjoing it. In 1866 the Society took over several stores in Tyldesley. At the time of the Society's ten year anniversary in 1867 they had 2205 members. On the 2 Jun 1899 the Society opened its new central premises at Bradshawgate and Albion Street.

By 1957 the Society had 22,588 members and premises in Leigh, Abram, Astley, Atherton, Boothstown, Culcheth, Glazebury, Golborne, Hindley Green, Lowton, Newton le Willows and Tyldesley. In 1962 the Society transferred its engagements to the Co-operative Retail Services.

Source: 'Leigh Friendly Co-operative Society Limited Jubilee History 1857-1907', by Thomas Boydell (1907).