The History of
Coatbridge Co-operative - the early days
Thomas Gilchrist J.P. was the
driving force behind the formation
of the Coatbridge Cooperative
Society. Tom was a native of Lanark
town who had come to Coatbridge as a
young man to further his career as a
journeyman mason. He eventually
started his own business. He took a
lively interest in public affairs.
Thomas and Dougie McLellan, who was
a storekeeper in the iron industry,
were appalled at the prices that
were being charged in the local
shops. They had attended meetings
held under the auspices of the
recently formed Scottish
Co-operative Wholesale Society and
had become convinced that having a
local co-op would improve the lives
of the workers and management alike.
They believed that this would give
them and their fellow townspeople
more control of food quality and
They arranged a public meeting in a hall in Ellis Street for November 10th. This meeting was well attended, mostly by miners and iron workers. The meeting unanimously agreed to form a Society. They elected a working party a provisional committee.
The first general meeting of members was called on 7th January 1872 when it was decided to start up the business of a Retail Co-operative. The provisional committee was confirmed in office.
This committee comprised:
Thomas Gilchrist, President.
At this first general meeting it was agreed to become members of the SCWS and to adopt the principles of the Rochdale Pioneers. However the meeting decided to depart from these principles to create their own rule that members be allowed credit to the extent of of their share capital.
was appointed to make arrangements
to start the business
First Salesman Appointed
The sub-committee decided that it was of prime importance that a salesman was required to help spread the word about the co-operative. The salesman would also manage the shop. James Haddow was employed at a wage of 25s (1.25) per week and commenced work on January 19th 1872.
The sub-committee and James were looking for suitable premises and decided that a vacant house in Baird Street would suffice for the early days. The shop was officially opened for business on 3rd February 1872. The first days trading amounted to 6 4s 8d.
The Society held their first quarterly meeting on 1st April in the Lesser Temperance Hall in Sunnyside Road. It was decided that members would subscribe one penny in the pound of profits to defend the principles of Co-operation.
The committee felt it was time to expand and on October 28th they took out a feu (fee) on land in Muiryhall Street with a frontage of 150feet at 2s per pole (16.5 feet) this was equal to approximately 18s.
At end of
December 1872 Edward M. Bell was
appointed Honorary Chairman. Edward
owned a manufacturing business
involved in the iron industry.
On January 17th 1873 the committee decided to build 3 blocks on the Muiryhall Street feu at an estimated cost of 1,900 19s 1d. and agreed to take out loan capital at 5%.
They decided to erect a bakery at an estimated cost of 5596 6s 11d.
They opened a Drapery shop in December but decided that members would not be allowed credit for drapery purchases. The following year they decided that the drapery shop would now close early at 7pm.
Over the next few months they moved their main place of business to Muiryhall Street and started to run down the Baird Street premises.
They drew up new set of Society rules which were then agreed. At same time the committee canvassed the members for more funds to erect a new building. They took out an additional feu for property adjoining Muiryhall Street at 3/ per pole (5.5 yards).
In 1874 they purchased their first horse! This could be used by staff to use when uplifting purchases from suppliers.
At this time they decided to buy all their bread supplies from the Old Monkland Baking Society.
In the first 10 years up to 1881 they:
Thomas' friend Dugald McLellan sadly passed away in 1875.
Thomas Gilchrist, their main driving force, moved to a new challenge as a Director of the SCWS in 1878. He was also a Dean of Guild in the new Coatbridge Burgh council.
He passed away in 1892 and his funeral was the largest and most influentially attended that has ever been witnessed in Coatbridge
Coatbridge Cooperative Society had a spectacular growth in the first ten years, considering that it had limited finance and was managed by a committee.
By the year 1897 they had 3,388 members and had accrued 71,000 in capital. Their total profit to date was over 200,000. Their average dividend was 3/- (15p)
The End of the Beginning
The research continues -
Still to come - The Coatbridge
Co-operative Society set up over 30
branches in most parts of
Coatbridge, Airdrie, Gartcosh,
Annathill, Chryston, Bargeddie,
Glenboig, Glenmavis ......see list
at co-op branches.htm link
If you can offer any information - photographs of shops, people, carts,
We need details of all events but particularly after 1939