Co-operative Press

Scope and Content

Comprises minutes and financial records relating to the business operations of the Co operative Press, its predecessor organisations and co operative societies that transferred their engagements to them. The collection includes minutes of board, committees and members’ meetings, annotated meeting papers, published reports and balance sheets and files relating to the sale of premises.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Co-operative Printing Society was formed in Manchester as the North of England Co-operative Printing Society in 1869 by a group of printers, some of whom had worked for the Manchester Guardian. £1 shares were made available to the public and when £1,000 had been raised, the business commenced operation as letterpress printers and stationers, also undertaking bookbinding, ruling, lithography and other printing work.

The Co-operative Newspaper Society was formed in 1871 and registered as a co- operative. Its members were co-operative societies in the UK. The Society was formed to publish the first national newspaper of the co-operative movement, called the Co operative News and published weekly from September 1871 becoming a bi-weekly newspaper in 2006. Earlier journals had been published by individuals and changed their subject coverage according to the changing interests of their publisher. This was the first time that co-operative societies had come together to produce their own newspaper, an independent periodical, not tied to any particular organisation or section of the co-operative sector. The Co-operative News has always been based in Manchester and was printed by the Co-operative Printing Society. Scotland had its own Newspaper Society and its own newspaper, the Scottish Co operator which was published from 1893 to 1974 when it merged with the Co-operative News.

Following campaigns in the early 1880s the Co-operative News began a Women’s Corner in January 1883, which is credited with leading to the creation of the Women’s Co-operative Guild, one of the oldest women’s organisations in the UK.

Following the recommendations of a Survey Committee, the English and Scottish Co-operative Newspaper Societies amalgamated in 1921 under the name of the National Co operative Publishing Society. There was a further name change in 1935 to the Co-operative Press.

The publications were, with the exception of Millgate Monthly (a cultural magazine) aimed at a co-operative public. The desire within the co-operative movement for a mainstream newspaper led to the purchase in 1929 of Reynolds News, a Sunday newspaper originally of the chartist movement and with a long radical tradition. Declining sales of the Reynolds News caused a change in name to Sunday Citizen in 1962 and the newspaper ceased publication in 1967.

In September 1971, the Co-operative Press took over Birmingham Printers, which had been registered as a co-operative society in 1902. In 1970 it was agreed that the Co-operative Printing Society would became part of the Co-operative Press, this was effective from June 1972.

Traden Publications was a joint venture between the Co operative Press and Leyden Publishing to publish a free distribution newspaper for the Greater Manchester area, formed in 1972 and wound up in 1974.


  • Bamford, W M (1921) Our Fifty Years 1871-1921: A Jubilee Souvenir of the Co-operative News Manchester: National Co operative Publishing SocietyMercer
  • T W (1930) Sixty Years of Co-operative Printing 1869 1929 Manchester: Co-operative Printing Society
  • Bonner, A (1970) British Co-operation Second edition. Manchester: Co-operative Union
  • Co-operative Press (1950) Press Power for the People: co operators in Fleet Street Manchester: Co-operative Press


Arrangement is by provenance.

Access Information

A 30 closure period applies to all records. Application to see these records can be made to the Co-operative Press through the National Co-operative Archive. Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm. Contact the Archivist at:National Co-operative Archive, Co-operative College, Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester M60 0AS.

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited by the Co-operative Press in 2001.

Other Finding Aids

No other finding aids are available for this collection.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Gillian Lonergan, Head of Archive and Learning Resources, National Co-operative Archive, April 2010. Additions made by Adam Shaw, Assistant Archivist, National Co-operative Archive, May - Jun 2011.

Appraisal Information

All records have been retained.

Custodial History

The collection was deposited by the Co-operative Press, along with the Co-operative Press Photographic Collection with the National Co-operative Archive in 2001. The deposit was formalised with a legal assignment of ownership to the Co-operative Heritage Trust in 2008.

Related Material

Collections at the National Co-operative Archive:

  • Co-operative Press Photographic Collection GB 1499 CPR
  • Periodicals of the Co-operative Press GB 1499 APC
  • W Henry Brown Collection GB 1499 WHB
  • George Jacob Holyoake Collection GB 1499 GJH

Collections at other repositories:

  • Reynolds News collection at Bradford University