Stafford and Stone Co-operative Society Limited

Scope and Content

Records of Stafford and Stone Co-operative Society including Board minute books, Members' minute books and a ledger book covering the period 1945 to 1984.

Administrative / Biographical History

Stafford and Stone Co-operative Society was founded on 4 October 1860 consisting of 40 members, one shop and a capital of £80. The aim was to offer people value for money and save in the harsh Victorian times. The bulk of its membership derived from craft workers as Stafford was not a major industrial area. Working men were attracted to the co-operative movement as it worked for their benefit and it was something they could control.

Like any co-operative the Stafford Co-operative had to build itself up on members savings. Members bought limited shares to ensure that the society would not be dominated by or become dependent on a few individuals. Expansion was slow and there were difficulties in the early years. Membership grew slowly standing at 392 in 1873. Problems included mismanagement, over-valued stock and unrealistic dividends. However, through austerity measures they managed to overcome its problems. Members firmly believed they could improve their lives through co-operation rather than competition. Over the years the society steadily progressed in numbers, capital and trade. By 1960 there were 22 000 members, various shops catering for grocery and provisions as well as butchery and poultry. The annual turnover stood at £2million.

Stafford Co-operative society established an Education Committee whose chief activity was building a library for members self improvement. In 1906 a provision was made in the rules that 1% of the net profits went to the committee. Its main activities diversified to include lectures and concerts, teaching children and education for employees.

A branch of the Womens Guild was established in 1901-2 and was designed to encourage women to take a more active part in co-operative societies as well as give them some general social and educational activities.

Stafford amalgamated with with Stone Society in 1939 after the latter experienced viability problems. Having been founded in 1875, Stone Society grew slowly and its business was further hit during the depression. It experienced a decline of sales, share capital and reserves. Amalgamation with Stafford ensured its survival.

In the years 1860 to 1960 Stafford and Stone Co-operative Society Limited grew and diversified , adapting to the changing economic and political environment over the years. By 1960 it appealed to people from all walks of life and income groups and was no longer confined to working class men.

In 1984 the society took the decision to merge with East Midlands Co-operative Society.

Sources: A Century of Co-operation 1860-1960, (1960); NACO/3/4/19- Transfers of Engagments and Amalgamations of Co-operative Societies 1984.

Geographical Names