Bradford on Avon Co-operative Society

.
Bradford on Avon’s co-op, properly called the Bradford on Avon Industrial & Provident Society Ltd, grew up as part of a nationwide movement in the second half of the 19th century and came to dominate shopping in the town and beyond for a while. It died in the late 20th century.

.
9 White HillThe Co-opĀ  was founded in 1861, probably in Silver Street, but had established its headquarters at 9 White Hill (post-1904 numbering) by 1869. The present building with old shop window fronting on to the street is a rebuild dated 1905.

.

.

.9 White Hill Co-op buildingThere is a larger building behind 9 White Hill, looking like an old cloth mill, that is dated 1897, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year.

.

.

.

7 and 8 White HillThe society expanded into two buildings downhill, 7 and 8 White Hill; the latter still preserves its shop window. The White Hill properties held the bakery and butchery departments for many years.

.

.

.

Bradford Co-op billheadA fragment of a bill to John Harding of Holt, issued by the Co-op in 1864, only three years after its foundation. It bears the embossed name of the Industrial & Provident Society Limited.

.

.

.

Co-op outing, Bournemouth 1927By the 1920s the society had expanded across the river to 12 St Margaret’s Street, where the drapery department was established. The old photograph shows a works outing to Bournemouth in 1927. They were probably of staff from St Margaret’s Street with their manager (R.F. Harrall?).

.

.

Co-op Committee 1930The group photograph was taken in 1930 and shows members of the committee and officials of the Industrial & Provident Society.

They are, left to right, back: F. Hewitt, F. Stevens, W.E. Adams, Mrs J. Smith, H.G. Turtell, A. Greenland; front: H.G. Morris, G.W. [George] Viles (President), R.F. Harrall (Secretary), C.W. Rudman.

.

1 and 2 ShamblesCo-op mosaic, ShamblesThe co-op bought the premises of baker-confectioner William Summers at 1 and 2 Shambles and rebuilt them as the butchery and drapery-ladies’ outfitting departments, which opened in December 1930 (Summers moved across the road and became a tobacconist). The drapery section moved in from St Margaret’s Street, which then became the shop for shoes and men’s outfitting. St Margaret’s Street had closed by 1963 and the Shambles closed in 1968. Part of a mosaic with the co-op’s name survives as do the drawers and counters of the draper upstairs.

33 Silver StreetThe following year, 1931, the co-op bought 33 Silver Street, a fine Georgian house that had been Edwards’ butcher shop and before that a grocer. Unfortunately, the conversion involved installing large plate-glass windows across the whole ground floor and the building continues to be disfigured today. It became the co-op’s main shop, specialising in grocery and lasted as such until 1988, although modernised as a supermarket.

 

interior, 33 Silver StreetCo-op mosaic, 33 Silver StreetRefurbishment of 33 Silver Street in 2012 briefly uncovered the tiling that was carried out on the walls in 1931, including covering a chimney breast that must have come from the original house. The mosaic sign is still in the entrance.

.

1 Bath Road c1968Out of the centre of town the co-op opened another grocery department at 1 and 2 Bath Road in what had been Burgess’ and later Slade’s bakery. It was axed as part of a rationalisation in 1968 and a few years later was demolished for road-widening.

The co-op bought a general store in Upper Westwood in 1962.

.

Co-op report 1966By the late 1960s the good days of the co-op were over. The Annual Report of October 1966 led the way to amalgamation with several other co-operative societies in the region, with Bath taking the lead. Rationalisation followed, with the shops in the Shambles, White Hill and Bath Road closing, leaving only the main store at 33 Silver Street and the butcher a few doors down at 37. These too finally closed in October 1988.

.

Co-operative shopping returned to Bradford when the Southern Co-operative bought the former Nisa small supermarket in Winsley in 2009 and the larger Mace supermarket of George Stone in Winsley Road, Bradford in 2010. Since then the Winsley shop has passed to another company and the main Co-op, the former Co-operative Retail Society of Manchester, has taken over from Budgen’s in the Lamb building next to the Town Bridge.

Co-op bread tokenCo-op milk tokensBradford on Avon Museum holds a few items from the co-op: some bills, advertisements and other papers, but most numerous are the brass and aluminium tokens that were used to pay for deliveries of bread and milk; these later became blue plastic discs.

Co-op advertisement

     < Back to the previous page