Co-operative Women's Guild, Lancashire Region

Scope and Content

The collection consists of records relating to the Lancashire Region of the Co-operative Women's Guild and its districts and branches. The records include minute books, account books, Guild events programmes, press cuttings and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Co-operative Women's Guild is a national organisation. The women's League for the Spread of Co-operation was established in 1883, changing its name to the Women's Co-operative Guild in 1885 and the Co-operative Women's Guild in the mid-1960s. The Guild is run at a national level but organised into regions, districts and local branches. Annually, districts and branches from different parts of the country meet at congress. The Lancashire region includes the following districts: Manchester & Salford, Birkenhead, Rochdale, North East Lancashire, North Lancashire, Wigan, West Lancashire and Lancashire.

The branches within the Manchester & Salford district included Altrincham & Broadheath, Broadheath, Cheadle, Daisy Bank, Eccles, Eccles & Prestwich, New lane Eccles, Failsworth, Higher Irlam, Hollinwood, Irlam, Knutsford, Middleton, Middleton & Tonge, New Moston, North Manchester, Rusholme, Sale, and Weaste.

The branches within the Birkenhead district were Bromborough, Birkenhead, Chester, and Moreton. The Rochdale District included Rochdale Central. The North East Lancashire District included the Haslingden branch. The North Lancashire district included the Chorley branch. The Wigan District included the Park Lane branch. The West Lancashire District included the Newton-Le-Willows branch.

Co-operative Women's Guilds were set up to provide women with a voice within the movement. Many of the societies would only allow one member per family and as such it was generally always the man that attended meetings. Some societies refused to accept women as members without their husband's consent. The Women's Guilds started when Alice Acland began an article called 'Women's Corner' in the Co-operative News. The aim of the article was to link Co-operative Women together and discuss subjects such as cookery, childcare, and needlework. It was then suggested that an independent guild of women be formed that would hold recreational and instructional classes for women. The first Women's Guilds were formed in 1883 and by 1889 there were 51 branches.

A Joint Guild Committee, for branches in Manchester and Salford, was started on 1 Jun 1916 to discuss ideas and resolve any problems arising in each branch Guild. At branch meetings, a representative was nominated to attend these meetings and report any matters arising back to the branch. The branch at Knutsford was started on 6 Jul 1923, the Rochdale branch began in 1884 and the Wigan Park Lane branch in 1906.


The records are arranged into districts and branches.

Access Information

National Co-operative Archive Co-operative College Holyoake House Hanover Street Manchester M60 0AS

All open materials, can be viewed by previous arrangement, Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm. Contact the Archivist at:,

Acquisition Information

Elsie Reeves, Glenda Gill, Jean Thomasson, Mathilda Morris, Jo Parker, Co-operative Union Archive.

Other Finding Aids

A deposit box list is available

Archivist's Note

Description compiled Jan 2010 by Menyen Lai, volunteer, National Co-operative Archive.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied for research purposes, subject to the completion of a declaration form. Please consult the Archivist regarding copyright issues.

Custodial History

The collection was brought together from several individual deposits of material. These include deposits from Elsie Reeves (Mar 1999); Glenda Gill, daughter of Mathilda Morris (Oct 2005); Jo Parker (Sep 2005); Jean Thomasson, Knutsford branch Secretary (Nov 2004, Jun 2006, Aug 2008, Feb 2010) and records transferred from the Co-operative Union Archive (2000).


Additional material may be deposited.

Related Material

LVWG- Co-operative Women's Guild, Lea Valley District Papers- held at National Co-operative Archive, Manchester, UK

YCWG- Co-operative Women's Guild, Yorkshire Region District Papers- held at National Co-operative Archive, Manchester, UK



  • Birchall, J., Co-op The people's business (Manchester University Press: GB, 1994)
  • Salt, C., Schweitzer, P., and Wilson, M., Of Whole Heart Cometh Hope. Centenary Memories of the Co-operative Women's Guild, ((Co-operative Wholesale Society's Printing Works: London, 1983)
  • Webb, C., The Woman with the Basket. The History of the Women's Co-operative Guild 1883-1927, (Co-operative Wholesale Society's Printing Works: Manchester, 1927)

Geographical Names