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Co-operative Building seen from Chapel Hill

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||| An Imposing New Building Is Opened |||

This article about the opening of the Co-operative Building appeared in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 31 May 1937.



ONE of the most imposing new buildings erected in Huddersfield within recent years, the new premises for the drapery departments and restaurant of the Huddersfield Industrial Society was opened on Saturday afternoon. The building standing as it does at the top of Chapel Hill is a notable addition to town's main street. The opening ceremony was performed by Sir William Bradshaw president of the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

Sir William said that as was the case with most Co-operative Societies the Huddersfield Society had had a humble and difficult beginning. Cooperation was started to improve the social conditions of the working classes, and it should always be remembered that Co-operation was a movement to benefit the consumer.

He had no doubt that the early pioneers of the Huddersfield society were enthusiastic and self-sacrificing. Those early pioneers were fully prepared to work hard and without thought of reward for a cause in which they believed. They were men who a deep faith Co-operative principles and carried their faith into action.

The extracts from the early minutes of the Society were very interesting and when one read them one realised what progress had been achieved in the past seventy seven years.
How the Society had progressed

The record of the society was one of which they could justifiably be proud. In 1861 the sales amounted to 12,658 and in 1936-7 to 894, 640. In 1861 the share capital was 2,567. Now it was 566,620. In 1861 the profit was 641. In 1937 it was 90,438. Today the average share capital was 16 4s. per member. The reserves and insurance funds amounted to 25,174, so that every 1 share was worth more than 20s.

The liquid assets are 61 percent of the total assets. "If you were round up today and sold your property at its depreciated value and your stock in trade and collected debts owing and other realisable liabilities you would have a balance in hand," he added.

They also gave substantial amount for education, and another benefit which the Society rendered to its members provided by the Collective Life Assurance Scheme.

"England is the birthplace of the voluntary Co-operation, and the movement started by the twenty-eight weavers from Rochdale is one which has revolutionised the conditions and general welfare of its adherents," he said. "While England has given birth to Co-operation, the continent of Europe has embraced the ides and is making rapid and solid progress. In fact there is evidence of many countries of the world turning towards Co-operation. In Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand voluntary Co-operation is thriving. Only in those countries which are under dictatorships is Co-operation not progressing.
Interest in the U.S.A.

"It is very significant that the U.S.A. is showing very intent interest in Co-operation. Last year president Roosevelt sent a Commission to Britain and the Continent to investigate their Co-operative organisations. I had the pleasure of receiving them, and was struck by the keenness of their inquiry The Commission has just issued its report to the American President. Jacob Baker (the chairman of the Commission) prefaces his views by stating that there is no reason to believe that Co-operative enterprise will not expand to considerable proportions in the United States in the next generation."

The after-war slump came upon this country quite suddenly and with disastrous effects to private and Co-operative concerns. While many private businesses were forced into bankruptcy by tremendous losses, the Co-operative movement had generally speaking withstood the test and recovered itself with great credit.

"Today you in Huddersfield are providing better facilities for your members and I congratulate you on your initiative and progress."
The result of many years' consideration

Alderman A. S. Moulton, president of the Huddersfield Industrial Society, who was in the chair said they all felt very proud that of the new building, which was the beginning of a new scheme which would ultimately include all the buildings. Up to the present time they had had little scope for display in the drapery department. When the whole of the scheme was finished all departments would be able to have the room they needed.

Since they had agreed to the extensions of the buildings (at an estimated cost of 125,000) there had been an increase in share capital and he hoped that now they would attract many new members. When the scheme was completed they would have one of the finest emporiums in the North of England.

He wanted to make it quite clear that what they saw today was the result of twenty years careful consideration of various schemes and plans.

After the opening ceremony a tea was given in the new Assembly Hall to members of the board and delegates from other societies and trade unions.

Speaking at the tea Sir William said he was glad that representatives of trade unions had been invited to the opening and he thought that this was a step in the right direction. He could not see why any trade unionists should be outside the movement which upholding conditions of labour. He felt it would not be long before they would be considering a National Society.
A word of warning

The movement was making good progress today but he felt he had one word of warning to offer.

Today we were experiencing a boom but that boom might very well finish like it did in 1929 and therefore he appealed to all of them to make every effort to "dig in" while they had the opportunity. He thought that at the present time they should create reserves so they would be able to withstand what they might come up against. A vote of thanks was accorded to Sir William on the motion of Mr F. S. Willmut seconded by Mr S Moorhouse. Mr Wilmut said that they were proud of the CWS movement and proud of the man who stood at the head of that movement. When the new scheme was completed he would like to see Sir William complete the work he had started that day and he would like the new buildings to be those of the Huddersfield and District Society.

Mr Moorhouse spoke in appreciation of the way in which the CWS had carried out the work of the new building which he thought reflected great credit on the departments concerned.

Mr. A. W. Johnson (the architect), Mr Deakin (head of the CWS Shopfitting Department), Mr. W. Berry of the Sheffield and Ecclesall Co-operative Society), Mrs G Bedford (the Bradford Co-operative Society), and a number of the delegates also spoke during the evening.


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