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Article researched by John Langley 2006

Burton Latimer Co-operative Society
The Early Years

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The Society was established in May 1888 and registered on 9th November 1888.

Signatures on an early set of rules - 1867

There is evidence that the Co-op was in existence in some form up to 20 years earlier, because a set of rules were drawn up at the formation of an earlier society, as can be seen from a document (left) dated April 1867 the original of which is held at the Public Record Office.

The members who signed this first set of rules were James B Mee, William Wittering, Henry Ayres, Joseph Hobbs, Charles Patrick, William Downing, Joseph Northern and Edward Eady, Secretary.

Obviously, this early society did not survive for the new society was formed twenty years later

The First Store

The shop, or store as it was referred to in the early years from 1867, I now believe to have been in the building which was quite large on the right hand corner of the High Street and Bakehouse Lane, which in later years was 1, High Street. All the likely buildings at that time have been considered and with research this seems to be the one.

From working in the building in the 1950s, which became the co-op hardware shop in the late 1940s, I remember the internal layout. The front part of the shop with the door on the High Street was connected to the rear by an opening in the rear wall of more than half a metre thick, with one step up. There was also a pair of double doors in the rear half of the building, opening onto Bakehouse Lane which in the 1950s were fixed closed and not used. The stairs to the 1st floor were at the rear and there was a door that opened onto the garden also in the rear part. This indicates that this building was once in two separate parts, and it seems more likely that the front part was the first co-op store, as it would have had the shop door and windows on the High Street and no other access. The first recorded store manager was John Wittering in 1869. He may have been related to William Wittering one of the first members of the board in 1867, possibly his brother as they were of similar age. In the 1881 census John Wittering’s address is given as Bakehouse Lane, [earlier census’ have no addresses,] most likely in the rear of the building, and living on the 1st floor. In 1874 John Wittering appears in directories as a grocer and could have operated from the rear part of the building apart from the co-op. Joseph Mason was the co-op store manager in c1874, George Buckby in c1876, and Alfred Tailby in c1890. Whether this store continued with the co-op after the opening of the Duke Street shops in 1891 is speculative. A High Street shop is listed in co-op directories in 1905 and 1910, but not in 1893, [these are the only ones we have of this period] and the new High Street shops were not built until 1912/13.

After registration at a committee meeting on 18th December 1888 the committee members were listed as follows.

Secretary:  Ted Freestone, Treasurer:William Freeman. Committee Members:  Lewis Mason, William Ball, Charles Stokes, Joseph Gale, William Reed, Joseph Eady and Jos Blaxley.

At the meeting held on 24th January 1889 Charles Stokes was elected Secretary and the following proposals were made:

  • That each committee member would be paid 2d [two pennies] for each attendance.
  • That a bank account be opened with Northamptonshire Banking Ltd.
  • That they should join the Central Board of Co-operative Societies.

The meetings were held over the next two years at three different locations, the Parochial School rooms, the Boys School rooms and the Baptist School rooms.

On 19th September 1889 the Penny Bank was established.

The location of the store before 1891 is presently unknown, but in 1890, land was purchased from a Mrs. C Jolly, each of the committee members investing £100 towards the project, and new stores were built in Duke Street. They were opened on 30th July 1891 and from then onwards, until the new stores were built in the High Street, the committee meetings were held in the offices there.

Extract from Northampton Mercury – Friday 8 May 1891


The co-operators of Burton Latimer opened their new stores last week; and to celebrate the event they held a tea and soiree in the Assembly Room, which was largely attended. Previous to the tea the Temperance Brass Band (under the conductorship of Mr E Roberts) paraded the streets and played several selections. Before the tea an inspection was made of the buildings, and Mr Evans (a member of the Central Board) spoke a few words of encouragement, and urged the committee to do their best to keep the building up. After the tables were removed, a meeting was held, which was presided over by Mr C Stokes, who said that he expressed his pleasure at being present, and congratulated the members upon the opening of their new premises. The Chairman read a letter from Mr D B Slater (one of the auditors for the society), regretting that he could not be with them that evening, and wishing them every success. Mr Evans afterwards congratulated the society upon building such a place. They could look at the handsomest place in the village, and say that it belonged to the working men of the village. Now that they had put the wheel there, they must place their shoulders to it. Mr Meadows also spoke at some length on the work of co-operation.

Alfred Tailby first manager of the Duke Street store.
Alfred Tailby, first
manager at the Duke
Street Stores.

Alfred Tailby was the store manager during this period continuing into the 20th century. For the next few years there were several changes of officers until 1896 when Charles Stokes became General Secretary, a position he held until his death 1923.

Edward Bailey became President in 1899, and held the post until the early 1920s

The premises built in 1891 in Duke Street consisted of two shops fronting on the street. They consisted of a grocery and general goods shop on the left, and on the right, a drapery and furniture shop. The office was on the first floor above the grocery and drapery shops.

Burton Latimer Co-operatives Society's first store in Duke Street openeed in 1891
The first shop opened in 1891 by
Burton Latimer Co-operative Society in Duke Street

To the left of the grocery was the opening to the yard at the rear, large enough for the horse drawn drays [carts] that delivered the milk and bread to pass. On the left of the opening was the bakehouse, the entrance to this was at the side within the opening with windows on the street, there was an opening on the first floor with a hoist so that lorries delivering sacks of flour could reverse into the opening and it would be lifted and stored there. On entering the yard the butchers shop was on the right. At the top of the yard facing the entrance was the abattoir. To the right were the animal pens and to the left were the stables for the horses with space to park the drays. The Co-op also owned a field in Finedon Road, just to the south of the town, where the horses were kept when not stabled.

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

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