Halesowen and Hasbury Industrial Co-operative Society

Scope and Content

Records of Halesowen and Hasbury Industrial Co-operative Society. These records consist of Committee minute books,Superannuation Fund trust deeds and minute book and Advisory Committee minute book.

Administrative / Biographical History

Halesowen and Hasbury Industrial Co-operative Society was founded in 1871 with the first shop established in Peckingham Street, Halesowen. Little information exists about its formation. A legend exists though that the Society used the two place names in its title because it was started by the Primitive Methodists from Hasbury and the Birmingham Street Methodists from nearer the centre of Halesowen. These were rival factions that were united by trade unionism or by an interest in Co-operation and could only agree to work together if both factions were recognised in the Society's name. There also appears to have been two co-operative societies in Halesowen- the Halesowen and Hasbury Society and the Halesowen and District Co-operative Society. Halesowen and District society was founded in 1883 but was last heard of in 1896.

The first minute book for the Halesowen and Hasbury Society dates back to March 1877, seven years after the formation of the Society. At this time Thomas Smart was the Society's President and Henry Haycock was the Secretary and wrote the minutes. It was not until the early 1890s that the society first began to expand though, when a branch was established at Gorsty Hill. At this time a great deal of the running of the Society seemed to be left in the hands of Ben Marsland. The Committee discussed matters, but then left it to him to make the final decisions.

In the first few years of the 20th century the Society cautiously expanded with branches established at the Lye and at Market Street, Stourbridge. One in Blackheath then opened in 1908. No further branches opened until after the First World War. It appears as though the Society struggled financially at this time.

After the First World War the Rev. Isaac Wrigley was President, but he was followed in 1925 by Mr George Albert Roper, who was President for 28 years, until he was replaced by Thomas Head in 1952. A.J. Hayward, or A.J. as he was popularly known, also became the General Manager after the First World War and became a legend within the Society, steering the Society through the 1920s and 1930s.

The Halesowen and Hasbury Industrial Co-operative Society faced problems following the First World War though; first by the economic post-war situation, but then from being "hemmed-in" by other societies. Their biggest problem was that the areas into which the Halesowen Society most wanted to expand were areas already reached by the Dudley Society, for example Cradley and Wollaston. In March 1928 the Society managed to expand to Cradley and opened Branch No. 6 at Colley Gate. Then in August 1928 Branch No.7 opened at Hasbury. Both of these were built in a distinctive house-style that makes them recognisable even today.

In 1928 the eighth branch was opened by taking over a grocery in Kinver High Street and then in 1929 the ninth branch opened in Wollaston, followed by the tenth branch in Oldswinford. In 1930 Branch No. 11 opened in Stourbridge Road, Halesowen and was known as the Hawne Branch. Like other societies, the Halesowen Society watched the local councils building new housing estates in the inter-war period, and realised these areas ought to be served by branches of the Co-op. The Wollescote Branch, opened in 1933, was of this type. By the end of the 1930s, the Society had eighteen branches - a testimony to the Society's expansion.

Following the Second World War though, no new branches were built by the Society. The Society seemed to regain some momentum by the 1960s though and began planning a superstore to be built in the centre of Halesowen and it was opened on 21st May 1965. On 7th April 1968 the Halesowen and Hasbury Industrial Co-operative Society followed the Alcester Society, and merged with the Birmingham Co-operative Society.

Source: The Co-op. Birmingham and the Black Country, by Ned Williams (1993)