There for us since 1844: from Chapel Street to Fir Tree Lane
170 years ago this year, a retailing revolution was born. Chronic unemployment, high food prices and unscrupulous practices by some grocers led to the formation of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers. This set the foundations for the rise of the Cooperative Movement, so much so that persons of a certain age can remember their Divi Number. By the start of 20th century, there would numerous cooperative societies up and down the United Kingdom. The concept would be copied overseas with equally great success.
Today, in spite of its well documented fiscal woes with its bank, it still caters for all walks of life, and death. In some cases, the first call for a pint of milk; a place to book your holiday; a place to purchase your first car; and, the care of our dearly departed.
The level of the cooperative movement’s popularity was particularly great in industrial areas. So much so that flagship stores dominated town centres in the same way anchor stores do in today’s shopping centres. Sometimes, they would have individual stores for certain items dotted around town centres.
Dukinfield, as far as the cooperative movement was concerned was a frontier town. It was served by three cooperative societies though never had its own:
- Ashton-under-Lyne Working Men’s Cooperative Society (1857);
- Hyde Equitable Cooperative Society (1862);
- Stalybridge Good Intent Industrial Cooperative Society (1859).
Seen below is a map of Dukinfield’s cooperative stores. This also includes the present day stores in Astley Street and Fir Tree Lane:
Ashton-under-Lyne Working Men’s Cooperative Society
The ACS had three branches in Dukinfield. Its biggest Dukinfield store was on Astley Street a few doors up from The Commercial public house. That had its own public hall, which would play hosts to lectures. This was their fifth store. By 1970, this would be replaced with a more functional self service store, which remains in use today.
They also had two stores on the top and bottom parts of Chapel Street dating from the 1920s. 12, Chapel Street, on the top end It is still standing and is in use as a private house.
The second store, on the bottom end of Chapel Street, remains in use as a convenience store. It opened in 1928, as detailed on the façade.
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Hyde Equitable Cooperative Society
HECS had three stores in Dukinfield; its biggest store in Dukinfield was on Town Lane, closely followed by its branch on Birch Lane. Their third and smallest store was in Newton Wood, on the corner of Victoria Road and Duncan Street.
Prior to pedestrianisation and modernisation as Concord Way, Town Lane was one of Dukinfield’s main shopping streets. HECS’s branch opened in 1909 as a grocery with its own cottage for the store manager. By the late 1960s to early 1970s, it was demolished and replaced with houses, as part of Town Lane’s redevelopment as Concord Way.
Its Birch Lane branch probably dates from a similar age to the Town Lane store, on the corner of Blocksages Street. After closure, it became the clubhouse for Dukinfield Rugby Union Football Club. This remains so today, albeit with a two storey extension of early 1990s origin. It was also close to a Post Office (before it moved to Yew Tree shops) and a public toilets.
HECS’s third branch, their No.7 store, was situated on the corner of Duncan Street and Victoria Road. It is still in use as a convenience store today. Known as Victoria Stores, it had prior to 2008 a sub-Post Office, before the counter’s closure (one of two to close that year in Dukinfield – the other being off Yew Tree Lane).
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Stalybridge Good Intent Industrial Cooperative Society
There was only one store owned by SICS in Dukinfield. It was their No.7 branch on the corner of Lodge Lane and Cheetham Hill Road. After some delays, it opened on the 19 February 1900. On opening, the store had grocery and butchery facilities and was dominated by a mock gable facing Cheetham Hill Road.
By the 1970s, it would be subdivided into two units, one of which William Hill’s Bookmakers, as is the case today. The second one is occupied by MC Barbers. On closer examination of MC’s unit, part of the original ironwork remain intact above his front window.
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Present Day Cooperative Stores
The present Astley Street store was opened in 1970 by Councillor George Hatton (then of Borough of Dukinfield council). It was part of the Norwest Cooperative Society which consumed the Pennine Cooperative Society and Ashton-under-Lyne Cooperative Society before then. For a brief period in the noughties, it also sold electrical goods.
Fir Tree Lane:
The shopping centre on Oak Tree Drive would be augmented by another selection of shops off Fir Tree Lane opposite The Forester public house. This would be dominated by a supermarket, which was known as Lo-Cost in the mid-1980s before becoming Augustus Barnett. By the early 1990s, this would become Dawn Till Dusk prior to the Cooperative Wholesale Society’s takeover of the local chain.
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Before I go…
Do you have any memories of the defunct branches? Or any of the present day ones? Chances are, reading this, you could well remember weighing potatoes in the Town Lane branch. Or, you may have been up to mischief outside the Fir Tree Lane branch when it was Dawn Till Dusk. As always, feel free to comment articulately.
S.V., 02 June 2014.