Did you shop at this old Co-op? Mu­seum wants your mem­o­ries

Black Country Bugle - - NEWS - By GAVIN JONES

THE Black Coun­try Liv­ing Mu­seum is ap­peal­ing to Bu­gle read­ers for their mem­o­ries of the Hale­sowen and Has­bury Co-op­er­a­tive Shop.

The Tip­ton Road at­trac­tion plans to recre­ate the num­ber 11 ‘Hawne’ branch of the Hale­sowen & Has­bury In­dus­trial Co-op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety as part of its am­bi­tious new devel­op­ment pro­ject ‘Forg­ing Ahead’, which is due to be com­pleted in 2022.

Com­ple­ment­ing the ex­ist­ing late Vic­to­rian and 1930s streets, the new street will recre­ate the pe­riod from the 1940s to the 1960s, with many build­ings from across the Black Coun­try al­ready ear­marked for re­build­ing at the site.

The pro­ject’s or­gan­is­ers are cur­rently call­ing out for any mem­o­ries of the Hale­sowen and Has­bury Co­op­er­a­tive Shop prior to 1969.

Co-op shops were once very pop­u­lar right across the coun­try, with dozens of out­lets in the Black Coun­try, stock­ing house­hold names as well as their own brands.

The mu­seum seeks to recre­ate this par­tic­u­lar shop as an early ex­am­ple of self ser­vice shop­ping, a con­cept that Co-op shops were at the fore­front of.

When the Hawne branch be­gan of­fer­ing self-ser­vice the con­cept was in its in­fancy in this coun­try and pro­moted as mod­ern, but many com­plained about the loss of per­sonal con­tact.

The Co-op­er­a­tive move­ment was founded on the prin­ci­ple of mem­bers shar­ing in the prof­its of each so­ci­ety and this came in the form of the ‘divi’ or div­i­dend, based on the amount of pur­chases made by each mem­ber. These pay­ments were pop­u­lar with cus­tomers and most knew their divi num­ber off by heart.

Novel

Claire Weston, cu­ra­tor at the mu­seum, told the Bu­gle:

“This is a par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant build­ing as it marks a huge step change in the way peo­ple from the Black Coun­try shopped. This type of shop­ping was a com­pletely new and un­known way to pur­chase gro­ceries and while it seems or­di­nary to us now, would have been rather novel in 1949. Peo­ple were used to pick­ing their gro­ceries from be­hind a counter.”

Did you or any­one in your fam­ily shop at the Stour­bridge Road shop? Do you re­mem­ber your Hale­sowen & Has­bury ‘divi’ num­ber and where you col­lected your share from? Did you shop at other Hale­sowen & Has­bury Co-ops? Please get in touch with the Black Coun­try Liv­ing Mu­seum by email­ing col­lec­[email protected] or call 0121 557 9643.

The Num­ber 11 Hawne Branch of Hale­sowen & Has­bury In­dus­trial Co-op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety

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