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The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

The Co-op in 1940s
and 1950s Britain

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There were several grocers in Edgware when I was a child there in the 1940s. All were branches of chain stores, which is notable because chain stores had not yet come in for other types of shops. Some such shops may have had more than one branch, but not enough to be called chain stores. The Co-op was one of the few grocery chain stores that still exist as I write.

Everywhere a local Co-op

In the 1950s there always seemed to be a local Co-op near where you lived, so you didn't have to go to the main shopping area of your nearest town. A Co-op was always near enough to 'send the kids' with a list for bits and pieces. I used to get threepence or sixpence (old money) for my trouble from a neighbour to buy some sweets. That of course was after they came off ration in 1953. The brass chain pulley money systems were in use in all the ubiquitous Co-op shops around us in the Birmingham area.

Marilyn Ormson

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The Co-ops other names - CWS, LCS, etc

The Co-op was variously named CWS which stood for the Co-operative Wholesale Society and LCS which was the London branch and stood for the London Co-operative Society. I am sure that there must have been other names in other parts of the country.

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The Co-op dividend

1940s sales chit for calculating dividend; LCS stood for London Co-operative Society, a division of the national Co-op.

Enlargement of a Co-op sales chit for the purposes of calculating dividend, found in the effects of my father. LCS stood for London Co-operative Society, a division of the national Co-op.

My mother went to the Co-op for non-perishable and off-ration items because it gave a small percentage back in the form of 'dividend'. Customers were 'members' of the Co-op with their own unique 'share' numbers - ours was 102154.

At every sale we were given carbon copy slips to prove purchase so that we could check that our dividend had been correctly calculated. However the chits were so tiny that many must have got lost.

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Inside Co-ops

My recollection of the Edgware Co-op is of a somewhat dark and dreary shop. So it was not surprising that my mother preferred Sainsburys.

In nearby Burnt Oak there was a Co-op department store. Co-op goods were extremely wide-ranging, as the chit for coal sales testifies.

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Dividend statements

Below are images of my father's Co-op dividend statements for the half year ending 4th March 1939 - the only year's statement that has survived.

Half-year dividend statement from the London Co-operative Society (LCS), part of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS), dated 4th March 1938, front page

Half-yearly dividend statement, front.

Half-year dividend statement from the London Co-operative Society (LCS), part of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS), dated 4th March 1938, back page

Half yearly dividend statement, back.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.