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Article researched by John Langley 2006

Burton Latimer Co-operative Society
Before and After World War II

Introduction Early Years Before and After WWI Years of Expansion Beginning of the End Photo Gallery

During the 1939-1945 war, the left-hand side shop in Duke Street which had been the grocery became the British Restaurant and the Co-op transferred to the former furniture shop.

Edgar Watson

In 1946 Edgar Watson (left) became the Mutuality Agent, selling mutuality cheques. These were vouchers which were sold to the households at the door to save for more expensive items; they could also be purchased at the cash office

As well as being the Mutuality Agent, Edgar Watson also became the insurance agent for the Co-operative Insurance Society [C.I.S] in 1952 until he retired in 1964.

The late 1940s to the end of the 1960s saw a period of change and expansion. There were closures in Duke Street, but elsewhere a large increase in amounts and types of trade with new building and the purchase of other businesses, which peaked in the 1960s.

From 1947 to 1949 the large garage on the right of the entrance to the yard at the High Street Central Stores was converted to an open-fronted wet fish and greengrocery shop, the sliding door was retained to secure the shop when closed. The hardware shop which had been owned by A.J. Wittering for more than 30 years was purchased and became the Co-op Hardware Dept.

In 1950, two electric battery powered mobile grocery shops were purchased. They were large vehicles, almost the size of a single deck bus, their battery pack weighed about 8 tons and when fully loaded they probably weighed as much as 15 tons. They traded around nearby villages and Barton Seagrave.

The tobacconist shop owned by Alf Coles adjacent to the main store became the Electrical Department when Alf retired c1953. This allowed a full range of electrical goods to be sold. Previously televisions had been sold from the furnishing department.

The 1950s grocery and butchery store.
The new grocery and butchery store
built in the High Street in the 1950s

Between 1952 and 1954 a new grocery and butchery store was built in the High Street and at about the same time the grocery shop in Duke Street was closed.

In 1955 and 1956 the abattoir in Duke Street was closed and the bakery ceased baking. The bread was now supplied by the Northampton Federal Bakery which delivered to the bakehouse. The butchers shop here was closed; the animal pens were converted to a garage where the four vans were kept, by now these were one battery powered bread van and three Morris Commercial J1 vans. The last horse was retired and all the milk delivery was now done with two battery powered floats, which were about the size of a small van, the milkman walked in front, control was similar to a motorcycle with a twist speed grip with a long handle which, when released, applied the brake and switched off the power. When these first appeared a number of the elderly residents in the town commented that “the Co-op was cruel to make those poor men pull those heavy trucks!"                                                

In 1956, alterations were made to the electrical shop when it was combined with the two remaining cottages on either side, the one on the right was already a furniture showroom and it all became the furniture shop. The electrical shop moved to the previous furniture shop.

To read John Langley's memories of working at the Co-op during this period, click here.


Introduction Early Years Before and After WWI Years of Expansion Beginning of the End Photo Gallery

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