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.
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.