Allendale Co-operative Society was established in 1874 as Allendale Industrial and Provident Society. It was not the first ‘co-op’ in the area, that honour going to Whitfield Society which was founded in 1862.
The first shop at Allendale was near the Dale Hotel, but within a few years had moved to the area of its present premises. Over the years various buildings were used and there were a number of rebuilds and redevelopments.
In the first year sales were about £2000; by 1876 this had risen to just over £3000 and there were 86 members. Business continued to expand and membership to grow; there were 250 members by 1900.
From the first, the elected Committees were all working men, with familiar Allendale names being recorded over the years, – Ridley, Bell, Philipson, Short, Fairlamb, Keenleyside, Jackson, Glenwright, Shield and many more. Annual meetings were large affairs, with suppers and entertainment for members and guests following the business part of the meeting. As an example, in 1887 over 300 people sat down to a meal accompanied by music from the Allendale Brass Band.
Deliveries started during the 1890’s with horse and cart (the Society also took the opportunity to sell the manure created!). By the 1920’s deliveries by motor van began; a later addition being a mobile shop. The mobile shop may be no more, but free deliveries are still part of Allendale Co-op services.
Over the years various properties were purchased by the Society, some for business expansion, some as homes for managers and staff, and some as investments.
The 1920’s seem to have been a particularly active time for the Society. There were now over 700 members and 14 employees. Branches were opened at Allenheads and Catton; a butchery department was established and buildings were purchased which allowed for expansion of the Society’s main premises.
Some of this expansion extended into the 1930’s when the present site of the store was created after a house, West View, was demolished. The new premises were developed as drapery department, garage, greengrocery and offices. The general grocery, and other parts of the shop being in Curtain (or Kirton) House. The butchery was in Shield Street where the Co-op’s logo can still be seen.
During the mid 20th Century links were established with other local Co-op Societies. Presumably to try and increase group purchasing power an association of local co-ops was set up involving Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle, Alston, Fourstones, Nenthead and Whitfield. There was even a proposal in 1945 to merge Allendale and Haydon Bridge Societies, but nothing came of it.
Business continued to grow; turnover reached £100,000 a year by the 1950’s, and £1,000,000 by the early 1990’s when the present supermarket was developed. Membership had reached 1,000.
The minute books show that over the years Allendale Co-operative Society has always been dedicated to serving the community and supporting local organisations; a tradition we are proud to continue.
There were many attempts to establish consumer co-ops in the early 19th Century to ensure good and wholesome food for working families. Most, but not all, failed after a few years. In 1844 the ‘Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers’ was founded, and flourished. This society ran their co-operative by the ‘Rochdale Principles’, which became the basis for the development and growth of the modern co-operative movement.
The Rochdale Principles
1. Voluntary and open membership
2. Democratic member control (one member, one vote)
3. Members economic participation
4. Autonomy and independence
5. Education, training and information
6. Co-operation among co-operatives
7. Concern for the community
Over the next 150 years these were adapted and changed slightly but still formed the guiding principles of all co-operatives.
By the beginning of the 20th Century there were over 1,500 separate consumer co-operative in Britain, and many more thousand world-wide. However, in Britain, through amalgamation and merger, the number of societies has been reduced to about 40, varying in size from the nationwide Co-operative Group; to small societies such as Allendale.
The above refers to consumer co-operatives; but across the country there are many others; farmers co-operatives; fishing co-operatives, arts, housing, finance. Pub, phone, wind turbine, community cooperatives etc. The list is almost endless.