Leicester’s Co-operative Commonwealth – Vol 1

Co-operative Workers Productive Societies

Co-operative Producers in Leicester & Leicestershire

During the 1890s, there was a steady growth in co-operatively run factories in Leicester. Nearly all were formed on the initiative of the workers themselves with the assistance of other co-operatives and trade unions. These producer co-ops represented a significant experiment in industrial democracy and by the early 20th century, Leicester had more co-partnership factories than any other town in Britain. As a result the town became the national centre of the Producer Co-operative movement.

Equity Shoes - Justice
Equity factory detail - Justice

In the late 19th century, the ideal of co-partnership productive societies found support with both the older generation of Liberal trade unionists and the younger Socialists. These co-operatives offered a small-scale, partial alternative both to conventional capitalist ways of organizing industry as well as to the idea of centralized state ownership. These societies gave their workers good wages and working conditions as well as providing an opportunity for participation, union membership, education and in some cases better housing.

The co-partnership model did not amount to straightforward workers' ownership, but rather a stakeholder model of governance. All members or shareholders had just one vote, no matter how much share capital they held. Members could be either those employed by the society, individual members not so employed or other co-operative societies. No member had any right to employment, though in practice societies tried to employ as many members as was commercially possible. The members elected a management committee which had more oversight than was normal for a company Board of Directors. This committee also appointed the General Manager. Net profits were devoted first to a 5% dividend on shares, followed by a further division between workers, customers, shareholders, educational and other funds. In the early years, some of the co-ops resisted mechanisation and defended craft skills, but in the end mechanisation was embraced out of necessity.

Equity Shoes detail - unity
Equity factory detail - Unity

Whilst the hope that these co-operatives could somehow replace capitalist production was utopian, Beatrice Webb’s view that these enterprises were feeble and doomed to failure was somewhat premature - many lasted longer than their privately owned rivals. However Webb’s views held sway and the co-operative and wider labour movement began to favour the initiatives of professional co-op managers rather than encouraging new ventures from the grassroots. This may explain the dearth of new co-ops through most of the 20th century.

Although co-partnership in Leicester was strongest within the boot and shoe trade, there was also a spread of enterprises across other local trades. Initially they all relied on being able to sell goods to co-op retail societies around Britain. This ready market enabled their growth and expansion, but it also became the cause of their eventual downfall. In the inter war period, retail societies began to loosen their ties with productive societies as they pursued more commercial goals. Post war, the demand goods from the producer co-ops declined as the co-op’s share of the retail market was squeezed by the supermarkets. By finding new markets for their products, two local enterprises, the Carriage Builders and Equity Shoes, were able buck this trend and survive into the 21st  century.

An index of co-operative producers

The Anchor factory in Asfordby Street, New Evington in 1898
Anchor Coop Advert 1915
Anchor advert from 1915

The Leicester Anchor Boot and Shoe Productive Society started production in 1893 in a workshop on Friars Causeway.  It was too small for machinery and only those machines which could be worked by hand were used. Initially the society sold its goods on the open market though it soon traded exclusively with co-operative stores.

Anchor’s first president was John T. Taylor who had suggested the formation of a co-operative to produce children’s footwear. Taylor had started his working life in the Co-operative Wholesale Society factory in Leicester and by 1892 was working at Equity Shoes and a member of its management committee.

Anchor had sold sold 27,790 pairs of shoes in its first year and this had increased to 45,253 in 1894. This growing trade made the first workshop in Friars Causeway  too small and inconvenient. In 1894 it was decided to have a new factory built in New Evington which at that time was a growing suburb of Leicester. The factory was designed by Arthur Wakerley who was also responsible for developing North Evington.

An early Anchor logo c1898

The society got possession of its new factory in August 1895  and in  the following year John T. Taylor became the factory's manager.  The Anchor Boot Society's early members were drawn, like Taylor, from the Church of Christ sect.  Taylor was also an Independent Labour councillor for a short time.

The new factory allowed for the introduction of machinery and although there were some members that opposed it, after due discussion and consultation  it was introduced. Initially, there were 80 employees and the factory adhered strictly to trade union conditions.

In 1897 Anchor took pride in shortening the working day from 54 to 49 hours. The following year, Anchor introduced one week annual paid holiday for all workers. (This was later rescinded during harsher economic conditions) In 1897, there were 78 employees making a profit of £532 and by 1909 the workforce had grown to 184.

Amos Mann was also one of the founders of the Society and became the second president holding office for more than twenty years. He also became president of the Leicester Co-operative Society and was  among the pioneers of the Anchor Tenants Ltd.

Anchor provided stable, well-paid employment, under trade union conditions for a substantial workforce over a forty year period which was no mean economic achievement. In the 1920s it made the 'famous' Clef brand of ladies shoes and Fultred brand for children. All workers were required to have a £1 share and had to allow their interests and profits to remain with the co-op until they had a share capital of £100. However, Equity had twice the membership of Anchor and consequently generated more capital, making it a stronger business organization. Anchor shoes went in voluntary liquidation in November 1935. The substantially altered factory is now occupied by the Jame Mosque.

Sources: Amos Mann, Democracy in Industry, The story of twenty-one years work of the Leicester Anchor Boot and Shoe Productive Society Limited (1914), 1898, Board of Trade: Report on Workmen's Co-operative Societies, 1901 & updated in 1910 Peter Ackers: Experiments in Industrial Democracy: An Historical Assessment of the Leicestershire Boot and Shoe Co-operative Co-partnership Movement, Labor History 2016.

1902- Anchor Tenants

In 1902, Henry Vivian gave a lecture to workers at the Anchor Shoe Co-operative on 'Co-operation and Housing of the People.' As a result 45 workers began to subscribe towards their own co-operative housing venture. These workers were all keen allotment gardeners and wanted houses with a garden attached.

In 1907, the Anchor tenants purchased a 48 acre holding at Humberstone from Captain Burns Hartopp for £48,000. The sloping site was in entirely rural surroundings just east of Humberstone village. Through bulk buying and using direct labour, costs were kept to a minimum and by October 1908 the first pair of cottages on Keyham Lane had been completed at a cost of £450. They were let for 6s 3d per week. By 1910, forty-nine houses were occupied and with fruit trees bought collectively, the gardens began to take on a well-cultivated appearance. By 1912, all tenants were required to be shareholders in the Society and had to contribute to share capital until they held £50 - a sum nearly equal to the entire annual earnings of an unskilled labourer.

The memorial to George Hern (1873-1908) , at the junction of Fern Rise and Laburnum Road, 1911, Humberstone Garden Suburb. Hern had died from pneumonia. In 1970, this was removed to allow for road widening. (Anchor Tenants)

The initial layout of Humberstone Garden Suburb was undertaken by Raymond Unwin. His low density development featured houses built around the perimeter of large blocks of land. Instead of being used for courtyard dwellings or workshops, the back land was to be filled with gardens and communal facilities like the tennis-courts. Unwin emphasised that it was important to locate these within the block rather than on the expensive road frontage.

Unwin wanted to eliminate the parlour in favour of a single large living-room in his designs. This was not acceptable to the Anchor Tenants, who employed a local man, George Hern, as their architect to provide them with plans for parlour houses. As the building of the suburb progressed, they also made alterations to Unwin's original layout. Instead of Unwin's original romantic vision of a village green surrounded by terraced blocks of houses, they chose semi-detached houses and large gardens, built to a slightly lower density. Using a team of 12 assistants, Hern designed and built to the individual requirements of each tenant and no two houses were alike. The Garden Suburb provided the first local examples of rectangular semi-detached working class housing. The Anchor tenants were the first working people in Leicester to have a bathroom in a semi-detached house. In contrast to Leicester's slums, they had a water supply in the kitchen and a lavatory all to themselves. This was despite the land initially having no nearby sewage or storm drains.

Anchor Tenants Building Department in 1908 outside a newly completed house. Founder member and secretary, Sam Wilford stands on the left. The scheme’s architect, George Hern, is on the right. (Anchor Tenants)

The biggest problem the tenants faced was in raising the necessary capital. Things were made somewhat easier in 1910 when they received a loan from the Public Works Loans Board. By 1915, the garden suburb comprised 96 houses with a population of 350. In addition, a block comprising three shops, a meeting-room and offices had been built as well as tennis courts and a room for community use. Anchor Tenants was managed by a committee elected by the members. There was also an elected Estate Council which was responsible for a range of educational and social activity including a medical society, concerts, dances, whist drives, and lectures.

Lilac Avenue, Humberstone Garden Suburb (Anchor Tenants)

The scheme at Humberstone was a success and demonstrated that the new methods of design and layout were a practicality. Nevertheless, it had taken years of hard work to build comparatively few houses. The Humberstone Garden Suburb is unique, not just because it predates both Letchworth & Hampstead, or because its original structure is still intact, but because it is the only garden suburb ever to be built by the members of a workers co-operative. It is still a co-operative.

Sources: Leicester Pioneer, 10th October 1908, Leicester Co-op Congress Souvenir, 1915., M D Forrester: An Examination of the Origins and Sources of Humberstone Garden Suburb, Leicester, (1907-1914), Anchor Tenants

c1980-1984 Blackfriars Press

The Blackfriars Press Limited was formed as a subsidiary on the National Labour Press in Manchester in 1914 to undertake work for the Independent Labour Party (ILP).. It moved to Leicester in 1918 with Walter W. Borrett as manager. Annie Maxton (the sister of James Maxton) and Emrys Hughes were both one time members of the management committee. It was a successful and privately run company. The business was registered as a friendly society in the early 1980s when the ILP gave the business to its employees to trade as a co-operative. Lack of finance and bad debts caused the company to close in 1984.

1906-70  Excelsior Co-operative Boot Society Ltd.

Excelsior's new Office and Works, King Street, Sileby, Leicestershire c1926

Excelsior began December 1906 and was the last pre-war shoe manufacturing society to be established. It was formed out of frustration with the Sileby employers who refused to recognise the union (NUBSO). Until then the union had 'failed to make any impression upon the Sileby workers, the manufacturers of that district being bitterly opposed to organised labour.' Not surprisingly, all the workers joined the local branch of NUBSO.

Members contributed £10 each in share capital to rent a two-storey factory and start production. Although they lacked business experience, Excelsior made good headway and at the end of the first year turnover was £2,593, yielding a £70 profit. Over the next two years, trade doubled to £7,640 in 1909. By then the existing premises were too small and a new factory was built at a cost of £1,159, with money borrowed from the Leicester Co-operative Society. Production commenced in December 1910 with 39 workers, when turnover was £9,582, and by 1914 this had risen to £22,190, with a profit of £918.

Excelsior clickers in 1940 (Sileby Village co.uk)

In 1918, the factory was found to be too small and a further site was acquired. A single storey modern brick building was opened in January 1925 near the railway station. As a late starter, this co-operative seems to have avoided the early adverse trading of other co-partnership producers and in its first twenty years increased its turnover from £2,500 to £70,000.  Its trademark was the "Excellon" Brand.

Sources : Howes, C. (ed), Leicester: Its Civic, Industrial, Institutional and Social Life, (1927). David Holmes: Development Of The Boot And Shoe Industry In Leicester During The Nineteenth Century, Board of Trade op.cit., Sileby Village.co.uk

1892-1959  Glenfield Progress Cooperative Boot & Shoe Manufacturing Society Ltd.

Glenfield Progress Office and Works: Station Road, Glenfield, Leicester c1926

The society was formed in 1892 by a group of shoemakers assisted by 'several prominent members of the local distributive society'. A new Station Road Factory was built in 1895 and two years later power machinery was introduced and the working week cut to 52½ hours. There were 50 employees in 1898 and the society made £184 profit. In 1901 the local consumer and productive societies merged and by 1913 had 247 members and employed 90 workers. For the half-year of June 1914, turnover had reached £10,240 creating a profit of £531.

Glenfield Progress float for the 1932 Leicester Pageant
A Glenfield Progress float for the 1932 Leicester Pageant (Brian Turner)
Machinist at Glenfield Progress in the 1940s
Glenfield Progress logo 1903

In 1915, as a matter of policy all the management committee, save one, worked in the factory. As with Sperope in Barwell, Progress helped to revitalize village employment and life.

'This is surely an instance of how a village population can be kept at home, and how the blending of rural life with manufacturing activity can be brought about'. (?)

The factory in 2011 before it became a gym.
The logo above the entrance. Unfortunately the the image of a boot and the words 'Production Boot and Shoe Society' have been chiselled off. (Google)

The original founder, manager and secretary, Mr J.H. Brewin was still in office twenty-one years later, when he received a special watch, as a symbol of his good relations with the workers. Brewin chaired the Parish Council too, and was Secretary of the local Liberal Association and active in the Adult School movement. Like Anchor, the society also became involved in workers' housing, creating another, 'Garden village, affording to the workers the change of allotment or other kinds of garden in their daily employment’. In 1949 Progress became part of a Co-op group with Leicester Self-Help Co-operative and Leicester, Sperope Boot Manufacturers. The Glenfield Progress Co-operative closed in 1968 and factory building was then used by S. C. Healey Ltd printers. It is now the Progress Works Gym.

Sources: Howles  op cit; Leicester Co-operative Congress, Ackers op.cit, Leicester, Halstead, The Story of a village industrial democracy; Wilshire, Glenfield, 15. Board of Trade op. cit.

1889-? Hinckley Boot Productive Society

This Society was started in 1889 by ten men following a nine weeks’ strike of finishers in the boot and shoe trade. Having raised £200 capital, the society was begun: “with the intention of employing themselves and others, and also to further the interests of trade unionism.” It was registered in 1890 but in September 1891 it suffered from a disastrous fire. The building on New Street was gutted and although the building and stock was insured, no work could be done until the business was relocated. The press report of the fire mentions a Co-operative Hosiery society in the adjoining building.  A recovery was made and the society was able to report in 1894 that:

We have found it difficult and hard uphill work to establish a trade, but by perseverance and giving good value for money, by using nothing but the best material, we have succeeded in opening accounts with 150 societies. Our capital has not, however, increased sufficiently with our trade, and we are, therefore, much inconvenienced by not having sufficient capital to work with. We however confidently hope that societies will help us in this matter. 

Folkestone Co-Operative Society was one of the societies that did invest and the society was able to move of of its old New street workshop. In 1895, the Society received planning permission for a new factory which  was built on John Street. It was described as light, roomy and convenient. No further evidence of activity can be found and it can be assumed that the society went out of business during the late 1890s.

Sources: Leicester Chronicle 3rd October 1891, Leicester Daily Post, 19th September 1895, Historical Sketches of Our Productive Societies, Leicester 1894

1908-1910 Ideal Basket Makers

This society started out with a workforce of 12, but failed to make a profit. Amos Mann was the president of this society, but his special knowledge and his experience from Anchor did not stop the basket makers’ society from going under. This co-operative closed its doors in 1910 and the stock-in-trade was bought by a Lancashire firm.

Sources: Board of Trade op.cit.

1896 - 1906  Leicester Builders Ltd

Leicester Trades Hall was the headquarters of the National Union of Boot and Shoe workers was built by Leicester Builders Ltd in 1903
Logo 1898

Leicester Builders Ltd was formed on 18th April 1896. Among those present at the founding meeting was John Potter of the Co-operative Productive Federation. A small workshop was taken on Myrtle Road and work on the first contract began in August 1897. The Society secured work jobbing work for Leicester Printers as well as building an extension to Equity and an addition to a local foundry.

In 1898, the society was building 11 houses in Western Road Extension, plus 19 houses in Oakley and Humberstone Roads, two houses in St Dunstan’s Road and four houses in Stuart Street. It is likely that some of the latter were for Equity. The society also acted as a speculative builder offering some houses for sale. In 1898, they had their office at 5, Paton Street, Narborough Road and advertised as builders and shop, office and warehouse fitters. There were 40 employees and 55 shareholders in 1898 and made  £316 profit.

Leicester Builders Committee c1897
Leicester Builders Advert 1898

In 1903, Leicester Builders completed the prestigious Shoe Trade Hall for the Boot and Shoe Union. The Union had previously helped boot and shoe workers set up their own manufacturing co-operatives and the Union chose this co-operative enterprise to build their hall. The Shoe Trade Hall was its largest project to date. The union was very proud that the building work was wholly undertaken by trade union labour and under the best trade union conditions. In the 1900s, the local building boom came to an end and Leicester Builders went into liquidation in 1906.

Sources: Leicester Chronicle 29th April 1893, 13th January 1907, Leicester Mercury 22nd November 1898. National Labour Party Conference Souvenir, Leicester 1911. Henry Demarest Lloyd: Labor Copartnership, (sic) 1898, Co-operation in Leicester, 1898.

1903-2016 Leicester Carriage Builders & Wheelwrights Ltd.

This unusual co-operative enterprise was founded in 1903. It was a bold venture and the only society of its kind in the co-operative market. It began trading from premises on Thornton Lane and as the business expanded it moved to Highcross Street and later East Bond Street. It had a workforce of 16 in 1909.

In 1913, the Carriage Builders moved to purpose built premises on Marlow Road with offices, workshop and wood mill with a blacksmiths shop at the rear. For many years the society was governed on democratic lines with the profits being divided between capital, custom and worker. By the 1930s, it had an established reputation for building: bakers’ vans (on pneumatic tyres), travelling butchers' and grocers’ shops, drapery and hardware vans, and all kinds of vehicles for co-op dairies. These could be built on to any make of chassis.

Leicester Carriage Builders Mercedes-Benz Varios (Coach & Bus Week)

In 1971, the Society began its association with the Leicestershire Co-operative Society and continued to convert vehicles for many purposes including mobile libraries, welfare vehicles and mobile 'walk in' post office vans. It is probably at this stage that it ceased to be a co-partnership. In 1995, Leicester Carriage Builders became part Midlands Co-operative Society through the merger of the former Leicester and Central Midlands Societies. In 2002, Leicester Carriage builders became a private incorporated company run by the Central England Co-operative Society. In January 2016 the Society closed Leicester Carriage Builders down as “part of a wide ranging review of its business portfolio.” Subsequently the Society provided some support and assistance to enable Steve Stones (a former senior manager) to establish Multi Vehicle Technology Ltd as a totally independent and unrelated successor to Leicester Carriage Builders.

Sources: Howes op.cit., Board of Trade op. cit.

1876-1903 Leicester Co-operative Hosiery Society

The First Co-operative 1867-1875

The first Leicester Co-operative Hosiery Manufacturing Society began in 1867 with no more than 60 members and operated from premises in Friday Street where T.P. Bailey a leader of the framework knitters lived. The society became known as ‘Mr Bailey’s Society.’ However, it suffered from under investment and in 1873, it was described having departed from its first principles when, instead of manufacturing hosiery, it was buying and selling boots and drapery having taken over a retail shop. Its largest turnover was £573 in 1874. In 1875, the Leicester and Leicestershire Framework Knitters' Union bought out the failing co-operative. The union members were not unanimous about running a workshop and the venture did not prosper.

Linkers in 1898

The Second Co-operative 1876 - 1903

George Newell was the secretary of the Leicester and Leicestershire Framework Knitters' Union and an enthusiast for co-operative production. In 1876, a second hosiery manufacturing co-operative was started and Newell was appointed its general manager. This second co-operative began using hand frames, then in 1882, it expanded and moved factory premises where powered machinery was introduced.

The founders of the Leicester Co-operative Hosiery Society c1897

In 1890, the co-op moved to the Cranbourne Street Mills. Newell worked as manager until his death and contemporary reports speak of the very congenial working conditions in the factory. The factory supplied distributive co-operative societies all over England, Wales, and Scotland and as a result employment at the factory was very regular as there was nearly always work on hand. Newell told H.D. Lloyd that “Workers come here and do not go away,” and added that he would not buy from non-union suppliers. He also said that if there was no order on the books, it was nearly always safe to work to stock.

Cranbourne Mills c1898

The men and women were all shareholders and received none of the profits in cash until £10 has been accumulated for the purchase of his stock. Of the nine directors, two had to work at the factory. There was a room set aside for education which could hold 400 people for lectures, concerts and meetings. In 1897 1½% of profits was given to education and 5% to an old age pension fund and in 1899, 224 people were employed in the factory with a profit of £6,188. The success of this venture was to prove the inspiration for other local producer co-ops.

The workforce in the education room of the Cranbourne Street works. George Newell is in the centre.

Newell developed a close affinity with the national co-op pioneer Edward Greening and the Christian socialist E.V. Neale. Newell was a deacon at the Oxford Street Chapel and he saw co-operative production as a means of applying Christian principles to industrial life.  He eventually became the spokesman for the Producers' Co-operative federation and was a Liberal Town Councillor from 1899-1901.

Underclothes being machined and finished at the Cranbourne Street works (1898)
1898 trade mark

In 1903, the C.W.S. attempted to buy out the Hosiery Society. Initially this met with  some strong opposition, but the resistance eventually crumbled and the factory passed to the C.W.S. in July1903. In 1908, the CWS transferred the Leicester hosiery production to a new factory in Huthwaite, Notts. The following year, the Cranbourne Street factory commenced production as a C.W.S. box making and print works and the factory was extended in 1913.

Sources: Board of Trade report 1901, Blandford, T. & Newell, G., Leicester Co-operative Hosiery Manufacturing Society (1898), Benjamin Jones: Co-operative Production, (1894) H.D. Lloyd op.cit.

1887-2009 Leicester Co-operative Boot & Shoe Manufacturing Society Ltd. (Equity Shoes)

Untitled painting by Sylvia Pankhurst made at the Western Road factory in 1907, (Richard Pankhurst)

Leicester Co-operative Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Society or ‘Equity Shoes’ was the longest lasting co-partnership factory in Leicester. It traded from 1887 until 2009. It was founded in 1886 as the result of a strike at the C.W.S. factory. Following the dispute, the strike committee decided to set up their own factory, manage it themselves and share in the profits. Sam Woolley called the founding meeting held at St Margaret’s Coffee House in Church Gate on 17th September 1886. That meeting was attended by 70 or 80 people from the CWS factory, but including several front other places (for the affair had leaked nut), and several others not associated with the boot trade at all. The proposal to start a factory on co-operative lines was agreed to enthusiastically, 60 shares were taken up in the room. The shares were £1 each. Both he and his father J.H. Woolley became committee members. Woolley is listed as attending the meeting of the Labour Association held in Leicester in March 1886, where Henry Rowley extolled the virtues of co-operative production.

The new engine at Equity in 1890
Shoe production at the Bede Street factory

The CWS manager John Butcher was sympathetic and allowed subscriptions to be collected, the Boot & Shoe Union bought shares and the Leicester Co-operative Society provided a free meeting place. Machines for the plant were bought cheaply from other manufacturers having been valued by an engineer on the committee.  The co-operative started business in small factory in Friar’s Causeway close to the canal with £420 in capital that was contributed by the workers, their trade union and a few sympathisers. The wages paid were the same as those paid in the C.W.S. factory. 

The closing room at Equity's Bede Street factory in 1890

At first, Equity could only employ four workers out of its 220 members and had to compete with the larger and better equipped C.W.S. factory. Initially, jobs that the C.W.S. did by machine, Equity workers had to do by hand, but progress was rapid. At this time Equity only made ladies shoes. They feared that by making both men's and women's shoes with the crude equipment available would have led to a decline in quality. They also refused to manufacture cheap shoes which realized only a small profit per pair and instead sort to produce higher quality goods which realised a better profit.

The ‘Educational Institute’ on the top floor of the Leicester Co-operative Boot and Shoe Works second factory at Bede Street, Leicester in February 1890.

In 1889, the factory then moved to larger premises in Bede Street, Braunstone Gate consisting of two three-storey warehouses with a total size of 15,000 square feet of room and this had an education room on the top floor. This factory had an engine and machinery, though it was still lacking the mechanisation found in the CWS factory William Henry Becks was the manager and in 1891 there were 130 employees on the premises and 40 working in their homes. The factory now produced both ladies’ and men’s shoes. The Bede Street factory building is still in existence.

Extract from a letter received from G. J. Holyoake, on April 8th, 1894: —

I wish I had a photo of the man who made my Shoes. They are graceful; they are perfect; light, soft, and fit to a hair. When I am Pope the ‘Eagle Brand ’ shall be Boot Makers to the Vatican.”

At this time Equity resisted the temptation to sell outside the co-operative movement and declined offers from shops. The Huddersfield Co-operative Society took its co-operative loyalty even further when it adopted a policy of only buying from the CWS and not co-partnerships like Equity. In 1890, Equity retaliated by deciding to open a shop in Huddersfield. However the shop had to be closed after other co-operative societies threatened to boycott Equity.  At this time goods were sold under trade-mark of 'Eagle', but in 1894 the co-partnership took the name of 'Equity' because it was found that ‘Eagle’ had been registered to another company.

Equity, like the other productive societies, installed machinery when it could afford to do so, but was careful that it should not cause workers to be made redundant. During 1893 there was considerable discussion about new machinery and whether it came at the expense of jobs. By a vote of 68 to 45 votes it was agreed to purchase new machinery, but at a pace which allowed waiting members to get work. The policy was use machinery to increase output rather than save labour.

In 1894, Equity built a new four storey factory on Western Road complete with a spacious ‘Educational Institute’ on the top floor. This hall seated 250 people and newspapers, games, a piano (of co-operative make), and a library were available to the workforce. This education work was funded by 5% of the factory’s profits.  The factory was well lit and had ‘lofty’ rooms - special attention was given to ventilation. Running up through the outer walls were twenty brick shafts with openings on every floor. A huge fan driven by a gas engine sent fresh air, warmed in winter, so that the ‘healthiest conditions prevailed.’ The architect was D. Jarvis and the factory was built in 1894 and occupied at Christmas that year. It was designed so it could be expanded.  There were 296 employees and 555 shareholders in 1898 making £1,632 profit, ten years later there 245.

In 1897, the American journalist Henry Demarest Lloyd reported that Equity gave special attention to building homes for its members. Several building societies have been formed within the membership of the shoemaking factory. One worker told him: "Why should not we be our own landlords and have houses of our own to suit ourselves?" By that time Equity had built about sixty houses with 35 houses being built in Equity Road. These were conventional Victorian palisaded villas, rather than the Garden Suburb semi-detached houses that the Anchor Tenants built later. According to Lloyd, the first houses were built by a private contractor; but the most recent were by Leicester Co-operative Builders. They were described as having four bedrooms, bathroom, parlour, dining-room, kitchen and scullery. There were marble mantels, attractive woodwork and gas fixtures.

These houses were nearly all sold to employees or members of the Equity society. The average cost of the houses was $2000. (£400). A buyer paid $350 (£70) or $400 (£80) down, and then paid from $2.50 (10/-) a week upward until the balance was liquidated.   The weekly payment coupled with the upfront payment would have made these houses very expensive for most boot and shoe workers and may explain why some were advertised on the open market.

‘Skiving’ or thinning off the edges of the different parts of the shoe ready for the fitters and machinists at the Equity factory in 1907. Painting in gouache by Sylvia Pankhurst. The machinist is thought to be Alice Hawkins. (Leicester Museums)

In 1907, the feminist and socialist Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960) visited the factory and made two paintings. Sylvia Pankhurst thought the work that the women did in the factory was monotonous and was surprised to hear them say of her painting that “I would never have the patience for that.” The local Suffragette Alice Hawkins is thought to feature in one of the paintings.

The factory prospered during the First World War through the supply of boots to the military as well as civilians. However the business suffered in post-war period and by 1926 only 166 workers were employed. Initially Equity specialised in high-quality men’s boots, but eventually Equity forged a specialist niche for high class women's shoes and by 1936 employment had recovered to 398.

The Equity workers were a close knit community - even in the 1980s they were described as a family. According to Edward Greening in 1923:

“….there was no necessity for Equity workers to loiter listlessly about the streets or haunt the doors of public houses…Every Saturday night the (education) room is filled to overflowing with young people enjoying the pleasures of dancing under conditions of decorum, safety and temperance.”

There were also whist drives, Christmas parties, a cricket club and a library. There was also a provident fund support funeral expenses, sickness and pensions.

1923 Equity shoe
1923 Equity shoe
1923 Equity shoe

Equity ladies shoes c1923

In 1940, Equity opened a branch factory in Grace Road and was busy advertising for staff. This branch factory was eventually closed in 1964 when its operation was moved to a newly built extension to the Western Road factory. This housed the insole and packing department.

Detail of the exterior of the Western Road factory in 2007 (Ned Newitt)

In 1936, Equity’s market was, as a matter of principle, almost exclusively co-operative stores. This changed in 1957 when the company dropped the co-operative name to become just ‘Equity Shoes.’ It had symbolically freed itself from the declining co-operative retail market and by 1969, 40% of sales were to the private sector. It was this change that enabled Equity to survive and outlast every other shoe factory in Leicester. 

Eventually, in the midst of the global financial crisis, Equity went into liquidation. The factory was closed on 20th January 2009 and 98 workers were made redundant. That year Wendy Freer made a film about Equity Shoes. The factory building has now been converted to residential use and is now on Leicester City Council’s Heritage Asset Register.

This 28 minute film was made in 2009 by Wendy Freer on behalf of Leicester Industrial History Society. It combines scenes shot in the factory whilst it was still in production with footage from soon after its closure. The film follows the factory's shoe production process from cutting the leather to packing the finished shoes. (Creative Commons Licence, University of Leicester Special Collections)

Sources: Leicester Daily Post 15th September 1887, Leicester Chronicle, 2nd November 1889, 5th July 1890, 20th April 1895, Historical Sketches of Our Productive Societies, (Leicester 1894(, Henry Demarest Lloyd: Labor Copartnership, (1898), E.O. Greening, A Pioneer Partnership (1923), J.H. Plumb, A History of Leicester Co-operative Boot and Shoe Society, (1936) Board of Trade, op.cit.

1903-? Leicester Cabinet Builders’ Society

This society was registered in 1903 at 69, Beaumanor Road, Leicester and is mentioned in passing in a couple of press reports in 1905. No other information has been found and it looks as if this was a short-lived venture

1894-? The Leicester Co-operative Engineers

The Leicester Co-operative Engineers was founded in 1894 by two unemployed members of the local Amalgamated Society of Engineers. One of them was Tom Carter, a prominent member of the I.L.P. They got support from the other local productive societies and formed a society with a subscription of a shilling a week. They were given a room to meet in the Leicester cooperative store. They began work in 1894, but started with insufficient capital.

The other societies in Leicester gave them what work they could, and their first work of importance was to help move the engine and machinery of the Equity Boot and Shoe Society to its new factory in Western Road. Initially they had to deal with some Co-op Society’s wanting to go for the cheapest price, which encouraged ‘sweating’ and ‘boy labour.’ They worked for societies throughout the midlands.  There were 11 employees and 12 shareholders in 1898 making £178 profit. The manager of the Co-operative Engineers was John Hey and were originally at 18 Newarke Street, then at Graham Street.

In 1904 the Engineers exhibited at the Labour Co-partnership exhibition at the Crystal Palace. They showed a model of their latest patent: – a double arm kneader for bakeries. It is not known how long the enterprise lasted but it is not listed in the Board of Trade Report for 1910. 

Sources: Leicester Chronicle 10th September 1898, 25th February 1899, Co-operation in Leicester, 1898, Northampton Mercury 26th August 1904, 1268 - Catalogue of Leicester Co-operative Engineers Ltd, Graham Street, Humberstone Road, Leicester ROLLR

1892-1989 Leicester Co-operative Printing Society Ltd.

Monotype operators in 1913 at the Churchgate works

Most of Leicester’s Co-operative undertakings came from the initiative of the workers themselves. This was not the case with Leicester Co-operative Printers which was founded in 1892 as a joint initiative between local trades unions and consumer co-operatives. It was the latter who supplied the bulk of starting capital and orders in the early stages. In 1893, the business started in a small way in Vauxhall Street with. W. S. Wallin as manager. From letterpress printing, the society expanded into bookbinding.

Inaugural meeting in 1892

In 1896 an extension to the premises was added by securing a new frontage on East Bond Street and linking this to the existing premises on the rear adjoining street. There were 41 employees and 111 shareholders in 1898 making £512 profit. According to H.D. Lloyd:

The managing committee is chosen partly from the workmen, and its members get, besides their pay and their share of the profits, an allowance of ten per cent as compensation-an arrangement which is usual throughout the cooperative world. A member of a managing committee in a co-operative concern like this gets, first, his wages if an employee; second, his share of forty per cent of the profits, according to his wages; third, an extra payment as member of the committee, which, if there are, as here, nine members, would be one-ninth of ten per cent; fourth, his dividend on whatever share capital he may have in; fifth, his interest on whatever loan capital he may have deposited; sixth, his share of the benefits of the provident and educational fund; and, last but not least, his general benefit as a co-operator.

The premises on Churchgate were much larger than is suggested in this photo. 

1898 logao

In 1899, 13 cottages were bought in Churchgate and in 1901 a purpose built plant was erected at 99 Church Gate. The building, designed by  Thomas Hind, included a room specifically designed for education and social uses.

In 1901 the business included letter printing, lithographic printing, bookbinding, packing, a stereotyping foundry and a composing room.In 1909 the adjoining premises, 101 Church Gate was taken over by the Society and a new department of box making was introduced. By 1913, over 30,000 boxes were being made every week on premises on Belgrave Gate and was this department was moved to larger premises in Briton Street. In the same year, negotiations were undertaken to acquire more land on Church Gate to further expand the premises.

One room in the cardboard box factory, probably on Belgrave Gate in 1913

The Co-op printers established a branch in Kettering where the works was set up to meet the needs of the Co-operative Societies in Northamptonshire. It also opened a London branch in Gough Street. In 1932, the organisation comprised of four factories employing over 200 workers. The society was managed by a board elected by shareholders and employees  and, in 1927, it was able to offer a forty-six hour week in all the departments as well as a fortnight's holiday with pay is to all employees with five years' service.

1938 Advert after the fire
Leicester Co-operative Printers Composing room at the Churchgate works 1913

In March 1934, a severe fire gutted the four story premises on Churchgate causing £16,000 worth of damage. The box making factory now on Short Street was largely unaffected and printing business moved to Briton Street whilst the Churchgate factory was rebuilt on larger premises. In the 1950s society changed its name to ‘Leicester Printers – the Churchgate Press,’ probably as a way of winning work outside the co-operative movement. In 1959, the firm defied the Federation of Master printers when it introduced a 40 hour week for its workers.

In 1987, with 50 workers and a turnover of over £1 million a year, Leicester Printers was a relatively large concern by printing industry standards. However the business was in difficulty and Lithosphere (another printing co-op) made an abortive attempt to take it over. It was an attractive proposition since Leicester Printers had a substantial customer base and had recently bought modern equipment. Although both co-ops agreed that redundancies would follow if they merged, they could not reach agreement on how to impose them. Consequently the deal did not go through and Leicester Printers passed into private hands and the co-operative society was deregistered. In 1990, the Churchgate site received planning permission for a night club in 1990 and is currently the ‘Creation’ club.

Sources: Leicester Evening Mail 23rd July 1932  7th & 8th March 1934, 9th June 1959, Leicester Co-operative Printing Society, 21 Years of Co-partnership Printing, (1913), Howes, C. (ed), Leicester: Its Civic, Industrial, Institutional and Social Life, Leicester (1927), National Co-operative Archive, Keith Jefferis, The performance of worker co-operatives in a capitalist economy: British co-operatives in printing, clothing and wholefoods, 1975-1985, PhD thesis (1989) H.D. Lloyd op.cit.

1878 - 1908 Leicester Elastic Web Manufacturing Society

First Society - The Co-operative Manufacturing Society of Leicester

The society was registered on 5th June 1872 . The object of this manufacturing society was to produce elastic webs for the footwear trade. It had 90 members. Among the shareholders were John Butcher of the CWS and Isaac Abbott of the Elastic Web Weavers’ Union. The Society issued a circular which said the co-operation would place workers:

beyond the adverse influence of misdirected capital, which has hitherto given the lion's share of comfort to its owners and that of poverty and its concomitant evils to the wealth producing classes. By the development of self-employment associations we shall be erecting a platform upon which capital and labour will fraternise and become one. That which under present arrangements is our inveterate foe and bitter enemy, will under this higher form of association become our truest friend and warmest supporter.

It lacked capital and only started to make a profit in 1876 when the CWS took their webs and acted as their agent. It had 112 shareholders, including the Leicester Co-operative Society in 1876 and had premises in Brown Street in 1877. However further losses caused it to be wound up in 1879.

Second Society - Leicester Elastic Web Manufacturing Society

The society was registered on 5th June 1878. This society only had 9 members to begin with and in 1880 had a leased a floor in premises in Upper Brown Street. During the 1880s it moved to Slate Street Mills and by 1891 it had 50 employees. The demand for elastic web declined when the elastic-sided boot went out of fashion and this might explain why this co-operative was not mentioned in the 1898 book on co-operation in Leicester. It went into voluntary liquidation in 1908.

Sources: Leicester Daily Post 8th May 1875, 9th September 1908, Leicester Chronicle 3rd June 1876

1901 – 1903 Leicester Pioneer Publishing

This was a consortium of trade union branches and political organisations formed to relaunch the local newspaper the Leicester Pioneer in 1901. Although the Pioneer appeared weekly until 1929, the co-op went out of existence in 1903. It was registered at the Leicester Co-operative Printing Press' address 99, Churchgate. The manager was Arthur H. Reynolds who later became Ramsey MacDonald’s agent.

1896-1970   Leicester Self-Help Co-operative Shoe Manufacturers Ltd.

Dartford Road works

Leicester Self Help was established by workers from the failed St. Crispin Boot and Shoe co-operative, which had been supported and financed by the local NUBSO ( shoe trade union) branch.

A factory was opened at the back of a hotel in Willow Street, Leicester with a small amount of capital put forward by  Harry Page and Israel Beck. Three Leicester public figures, Councillor Edwards, Alderman Flint and Alderman Edward Wood secured a loan for the society from the bank, and the last donated £100.  NUBSO union officials, including T.F. (Freddy) Richards, a future national union President, played a key role in its early development, while Equity and Anchor also gave support.

1898 Self Help logo

Equity, Anchor, Self-Help and Glenfield Progress were all rivals of the larger C.W.S. undertaking. However, given the strikes and difficult relationship between workers and management at the C.W.S., N.U.B.S.O., had no qualms in providing financial backing for these upstart co-ops.

Toy Town Shoes advert-1950

William Leedham, of Norman Street, was one of the founders and became the traveller for the company. In 1898 a second factory was opened in Gower Street and 35 people were working there in 1899. In 1901 the works moved to Dartford Road, Leicester into a new factory built by Messrs Hewitt and Sons where there were 57 employees in 1909.

The Self-Help constitution adopted the model of the Co-operative Union, which made all shareholders eligible for election to the management committee.

In 1940, there were 218 members. In 1949 it became part of a Co-op group group with Leicester Self-Help Co-operative Shoe Manufacturers, Leicester, Sperope Boot Manufacturers, Ltd., Barwell, and the Glenfleid Progress Boot Society. In 1950 it employed 100 workers. In 1954 the Society's name was changed to 'Toy Town Shoes Limited'. The Company went into liquidation in March 1970. The factory building still survives.

Sources: LEM Friday 13 October 1950, Board of Trade op.cit., Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, Record Office

1896? – 1903 Leicester West End Builders Society Ltd

A rule book printed in 1896 by the Leicester Co-operative Printers survives in the Record Office. Little more about this enterprise is known, except that it went out of existence on 1903 and is not listed in 1901 Board of Trade report on Co-operatives. Its demise was probably caused by the end of the Leicester’s housebuilding boom after 1900.

Sources: ROLLR, DE9128/114 Rule Book of the Leicester West End Builders' Society Ltd 1896

1903 - 1924 Morning Star Sundries

The Morning Star Sundries Society started out in 1903 at 121, Highcross Street. It manufactured ‘grocers’ sundries’. (self raising flour, custard powder, baking powder, egg powder, pickles, bird seed) Edward Bent & J.Williams were among its founders and were its general manager and secretary respectively from start to finish. Williams was a member of the Leicester Co-op Board of management and Bent and had previously been a wholesale grocer for Baines & Whitmore in Halford Street. In 1908 moved to a factory on Landsdowne Road, Aylestone, indicating that the business was doing well. By 1915, Morning Star had the Liberal Councillor for Spinney Hill John Johnson as its chairman. He was also a retired factory manager.

Morning Star advert
1904 Morning Star advert

Then in 1917, Morning Star Sundries embarked on a new venture when it bought the Toddington Orchards Estate of 225 acres in the Vale of Evesham. The intention was to produce jam and dried fruit and sell poultry and eggs.  It is probable that the capital for the purchase was raised from the various retail societies with which it did business. It is not known how this decision for this radical departure was taken or precisely how the existing members and workforce thought they would benefit.

However in May 1919, Councillor Johnson formally opened the jam and pulping factory at Park farm Winchcombe. At that time there were 80 people in the combined workforce in Leicester and Gloucestershire. Edward Bent and his wife moved to Winchcome and Mr Bent became the manager of the Morning Star Poultry Orchards.  More land was bought and in 1920 , its assets included Park Farm, Winchcombe, Park Farm plantations, Toddington glass houses, Park Farm factory, farm, and Greet Manor estate. This amounted to about 500 acres.

The precise reasons why the venture failed are not known. Making jam was commercially viable since there was jam production in the area both before and after Morning Star. This suggests that Mr Bent, who had successfully managed the Aylestone factory, may not have had the skills to run a diverse agricultural enterprise. In 1923-1924 the Society sold its poultry farm and other assets and the Co-operative went into liquidation. The Morning Star co-op had joined its Owenite and Chartist predecessors as a failed rural co-operative. The Landsdowne Road factory appears to have survived.

Birmingham Daily Gazette 22nd April 1919, Gloucester Echo 2nd June 1923, 22nd April 1924, Edward Owen Greening, A Democratic Partnership, 1921

1888-?  Alcester Needlemakers Co-operative Manufacturing Society 

This enterprise was a branch of the Warwickshire Society which was formed in 1888. In 1934 it was announced that Alcester Needlemakers' Society had taken over a factory in Leicester and intended to employ several hundred workers The society was to supply Co-operative stores with braces, belts, suspenders and so forth, and was to undertake the manufacture of women and children's dresses and overalls. The goods were to be marketed under "Anela" brand. Adverts were place for workers and £13,013 worth of sales were reported in 1934. No other records have survived except that Alcester Needlemakers’ Society was formally dissolved in 1943, though records of the enterprise in Alcester continue to 1968.

Sources: Leicester Evening Mail, 31st May 1934, London Gazette 24th December 1943

? – 1930 New Era Boot Manufacturing Society

It had a factory at 44½ Causeway Lane and was probably formed around 1926 or 1927. It went into liquidation in May 1930 owing £983.

Sources: Howes op. cit, Leicester Evening Mail 21st  & 29th May 1930

1891-1965  Sperope Boot Manufacturers Ltd.

The Barwell Co-operative c1900
Barwell shoe manufacturing society logo
The Barwell Society's logo before its change of name

The Barwell Productive Society was founded as a co-operative in 1890, in a small yard off High Street, known as Piccadilly. The workers put down £5 each to start the firm, after a secret meeting held at night behind the Rifle Butts on Burbage Common. It was run as a co-operative with Mr Wilf Harvey as the first chairman of the Management Committee.

In 1895 it was renamed the Sperope Boot Manufacturing Company and moved to Kirkby Road, Barwell. The name was derived from the Latin meaning Expect and Hope. There were 48 employees in 1898 making Ladies and Girls Shoes and Boys Boots and Shoes. It had £43,017 worth of sales in 1934.

In 1949 it was part of a Co-op group with Leicester Self-Help Co-operative Shoe Manufacturers, Leicester, Sperope Boot Manufacturers, Ltd., Barwell, and the Glenfleid Progress Boot Society. They bought out the Leicester boot and shoe firm, G. and I. Lansberry. of Mount Road. Sperope went into liquidation in 1965 and the premises were taken over by George Ward (Barwell). It was later used by Primark the price marking and label company.

Sperope factory
The Sperope factory before its partial demolition and conversion to flats (Barwell & Earl Shilton Memories)

Although the rear north light factory buildings on Kirkby Road have been demolished, the office building has been incorporated into an apartment building. This is known as Twyford Court and it stands as a landmark on the street.

Sources: Leicester Evening Mail 30 August 1949, Howe op.cit., Board of Trade op.cit.

1893-1895 St. Crispin Boot and Shoe Operatives' Productive & Distributive Society

This society came into being as a result of the vigorous campaign by T.F. Richards and Martin Curley who were seen in the 1890s as the militants within the boot and shoe union. In 1892, they toured union branches arguing for an ‘Industrial Co-operative Scheme.’ The aim was to win support for using branch and central union funds to establish co-operative enterprises. This was considered highly improper by the union’s general secretary William Inskip

Despite this opposition, they had some success when the St Crispin Society was registered on the 17th April. 1893. The enterprise was designed to (a) offset season fluctuations by self-employment (b) absorb members thrown out of work by the introduction of machinery (c) to enable workers to receive the full value of their labour.

The business of the society was managed by a committee of twelve with T.F. Richards as treasurer and had an address in Willow Street. The capital for carrying on the business was lent by the National of Boot and Shoe Operatives. Branches No. 1 and 2. No. 1 Branch lent £1,500. £1,000 in June 1893 and in February 1894. The Society ran a small shop to sell it goods and there were proposals that the union should back similar shops. This was rejected when H.H. Wooley, a member of the St Crispin’s committee, reported that the shop was a failure. He also complained that had been difficult to retain subscribing members of the society.

W.H. Becks, previously of Equity, was the second secretary of the society and was appointed in October 1894.  Despite his previous experience, he was unable to make the society a success and a provisional liquidator was appointed on the 14th of May 1895. The failure of the society was attributed to insufficient turnover to pay expenses and bad debts. It was succeeded by the Self-Help Society.

Sources: Leicester Chronicle 28th January 1893, 22nd June 1895, Leicester Journal 25th May 1894, Leicester Daily Post 21st May 1894, The Clarion 29th September 1894,.Benjamin Jones: Co-operative Production, (1894), Alan Fox: A History of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives, 1874-1957, (1958)

1897-? Wigston Co-operative Hosiers Ltd.

The Wigston Hosiers was formed in 1897 and started trading in 1899. It bought six Griswold machines on the advice of George Newell, of the Leicester Hosiery Society and initially six people were employed to work them. The first premises were in the workshops in the yard at Bull’s Head Street. The business flourished and in 1905 the co-operative bought a plot of land in Paddock Street Wigston and built a factory. By 1910, this factory was too small and new factory was built in 1913. In those days the factory looked out over gardens and orchards stretching down to the houses in the old part of the village.

The Wigston Hosiers factory in 1949

In 1914, the factory specialised in men’s half hose, shirts, pants and combinations, children’s socks and ladies’ cashmere hose and silk lingerie. All the workers at the factory were in the union working 49 hours per week and were being paid the Leicester rate, even though Wigston was considered to be a country district. 

Wigston Hosiers knitting Department in 1949
Wigston Hosiers advert from 1923 with its trademark Beaver .

The Society continued to prosper throughout the inter war years  having £27,000 in the bank in 1936. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1949. It is not known when the society was wound up, but it seems that the factory was used by Belvoir Sportswear from the late 1980s. The building has now been converted into residential units. 

Sources: Leicester Evening Mail 15th September 1936, Wigston Hosiers Souvenir, 1949, E.O Greening, A Democratic Partnership, 1921. Leicester Co-operative Record, March 1914

1910 fair conditions of labour stamp
In 1910, NUBSO promoted T. F. Richard’s idea of a ‘Union Stamp.’ The hope was that consumer power could be used to increase the sale of footwear made by workers paid at trade union rates. This fair trade idea was adopted by many of the producer co-operatives, but it did not have the success that the union had hoped for in the private sector.

1882-1968?  Co-operative Productive Federation

Pamphlet c1930

The Co-operative Producers Federation was formed in 1882 to join together some fifteen local producer-owned cooperative societies, with the aim of helping them to find capital and markets for their goods. These members were involved mainly in the clothing, footwear and printing trades, operating on a co-partnership and profit-sharing basis. John Potter was appointed as the first full-time secretary of the Co-operative Productive Federation and the office was transferred to Leicester. The objects of the Federation were to:

  • to aid productive societies by united action
  • to open up a market for the sale of their goods
  • to obtain capital for co-operative production

The Co-operative Productive Federation was in many ways a response to the rejection by the CWS. of the worker participation ideal. The productive societies were both the commercial and ideological rivals of the CWS. It was an unequal struggle since the CWS had greater access to capital and influence within the wider co-operative movement.

John Potter

By 1894, twenty societies had become members, but the annual subscriptions only totalled £66. Potter had helped establish Equity Shoes and he played a key role in the setting up new produce co-ops locally and further afield. He was followed by 1894 Thomas Blandford who held the post until his death in 1899 when there were 58 affiliated societies. He was followed by Robert Halstead and, in 1922,  by J.J. Worley who was the secretary until his death in 1944.

In 1934, the CPF made a film called "The Elevation of Labour," which shows several co-operative factories including sequences filmed in Leicester and Leicestershire. Unfortunately not all are readily identifiable. (Wigston Hosiers may well be included).

At the beginning of 1935, the C.P.F. had forty-two trading societies in membership, ranging from small local societies in the printing trades, with annual sales of a few thousand pounds, to huge clothing trade units like Ideal Clothiers and Kettering Clothing Manufacturing, with annual output well over the half-million pounds mark. Its office was at the Alliance Chambers, Horsefair Street, Leicester

The Federation was still in existence in 1968, but was overtaken by the establishment in 1971 of the Industrial Common Ownership Movement as the central organisation of a new generation of workers' co-operatives.


Sources: Leicester Evening Mail, 12 November 1934 (The film is in the British Pathe archive), Board of Trade op cit. 1901, Co-operative Co-partnership Propaganda Committee: Co-operative Co-partnership (c1935)