Records of the Manx Co-operative Society Limited

Scope and Content

The content consists of minutes of meetings 1919-1993, correspondence to society members regarding payment of dividends and interest 1933-1940, quarterly and half-yearly reports and balance sheets 1924-1991, an interim report (1979) and a statement of accounts for the 14 weeks ending 26 January 1946. Further material includes Co-operative Congress Programme booklets 1963 & 1967, an efficiency audit by the economic and research department of the Co-operative Union Limited 1981, three rule booklets for the Manx Co-operative Society Limited, a press release regarding the society's Diamond Jubilee celebrations 1980 and one copy of the Co-operative Review (the monthly Journal of the Co-operative Union Limited) 1980.

Administrative / Biographical History

The co-operative movement occurred in the British Isles in the nineteenth century, motivated by the extreme poverty witnessed throughout the industrial revolution period. Creating co-operatives allowed groups of people to work together to meet the common needs (addressing social and economic issues) and aspirations of their members and to share ownership while making decisions democratically. Creating a non-profit community business was appealing and: numerous co-operatives were founded throughout the early 1800s, although many eventually failed. By 1844 the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers had been created which in turn established the ‘Rochdale Principles’ upon which the successful ‘modern' co-operative movement was based. The principles are a set of ideals for the administration of co-operatives which calls for open membership, democratic control and a distribution of surplus in proportion to the trade. It also instructed that there must be a payment of limited interest in capital, political and religious neutrality, cash trading (no credit extended) and a promotion of education.

Co-operation in the Isle of Man dates back to the 1870s but the Manx Co-operative Society Limited’s story doesn’t begin until the twentieth century. In May 1919 members of the Manx Labour Party conducted a meeting and the Manx Co-operative Society Limited was established. Many founding members were also active members of the Workers’ Union, whose objective was to organize the general workers with a view to improving their social conditions. More than £3,000 worth of capital was raised and the first shop opened 7 July 1920 at 14 Duke Street, Douglas. In October of that year a branch shop was opened in the northern town of Ramsey and another followed in the west coastal village of Peel. By November a branch had opened in the south coastal village of Port St Mary. In 1924 however, management committee power was allocated to the Liverpool Society as a means of improving the business footing. 1946 saw the Manx Co-operative’s finances and management placed under the supervision of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS), an agreement which was extended in 1956 when it was resolved that the CWS be authorized to advise the society on management matters. In 1980 they celebrated their Diamond Jubilee, boasting over 16,800 members, a turn-over of over £4 million and 13 grocery shops around the Island. By August 1993 a transfer of engagements took place and the Manx Co-operative Society Limited became a subsidiary of the Co-operative Retail Service Limited (CRS). Today the co-operative has ten branches on the Island situated in Onchan, Douglas, Castletown, Port St Mary, Port Erin, Peel, Ramsey and Laxey.

Access Information

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Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from MS 09275's deposit file.

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), January 2016.

Related Material

Related material held at Manx National Heritage includes numerous library and archival resources and photographs of the Manx Co-operative Society Ltd. Reference number: PG/7977.