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  Tickhill Co-op


The Co-operative movement was born in Rochdale in 1844, when a group of workers, known as the ‘Rochdale Pioneers’ formed a small society to operate their own shop. The movement was brought to Doncaster in 1867 by workers who had moved to the Great Northern Railway Works, (‘The Plant’), from areas where co-operative societies already existed. Their first shop opened in 1868 in modest premises on St James Street; success soon followed, and by the end of the century two large department stores had opened in Doncaster, and by 1910 there were over 20 branches operating in the area, one of which was at Tickhill.

In December 1908, the Management Committee of the Doncaster Mutual Co-operative & Industrial Society had purchased a row of cottages on the west side of Castlegate; Doncaster architects, Albion & Beck were instructed to draw up plans for a grocery shop, to include a model bakery with a ‘draw plate’ oven. Local builder, W.H.Rawson & Sons won the contract to build the new shop at a cost of 820, together that for with the manager’s house at 247.12.0. The new Tickhill Co-op was officially opened on Wednesday, November 24, 1909, followed by a tea and concert for 150 guests in the Public Library; the proceedings were presided over by Councillor Charles Wightman, JP, president of the Doncaster Mutual Co-operative & Industrial Society, who gave a short speech. The local newspapers described the new branch as ‘a spacious grocer’s shop and storerooms, fitted in the most modern style’ with ‘a model bakery …. the oven costing 230’. Mr Herbert Summersgill had been appointed manager at 32/- per week.

Business flourished and two years later, in December 1911, W.H.Rawson & Sons again won the contract, this time to build adjacent butchery and drapery departments at a cost of 840. The new departments were opened on May 8 1912; once again the President, Councillor Charles Wightman, JP and members of the Management Committee were in attendance and the official proceedings were followed by a tea and concert in the Public Library. William Brown and Herbert .H. Tuck were appointed managers of the butchery and drapery departments at 24/- and 28/- per week respectively.

Staff do not appear to have been recruited locally; the Management Committee Minute Books show that employees were often transferred from store to store. Amongst those employed at Tickhill in the early years of trading were Messrs Garbutt, H. Thompson, H. Burnett, R.J. Merriman, W Winn and A Stocks.

The Minute Books also reveal that the Society rented a plot of land adjoining Tickhill Station in February 1909 ‘for use in connection with the coal business’: the Co-op operated its own coal delivery service and was obviously taking advantage of easy access to local collieries via the South Yorkshire Joint Railway network. The following year, March 1909, the Society became a subscriber to the proposed telephone exchange at Tickhill.


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