Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society AKA the CO-OP

A-toadlane

Map: Ordnance Survey Town Plan 1:500 first published 1908

The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers was a group of 28 that was formed in 1844. The society was made up from a variety of local trades with more than half involved in the production of textiles  – ten of them flannel weavers whilst others were cloggers, shoemakers, joiners or cabinet makers, but they united in common cause against the oppressive poverty facing their community in 1840s Rochdale.

As mechanisation forced more and more skilled workers into poverty, these tradesmen decided to band together to open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. With lessons from prior failed attempts at co-operation in mind, they designed the now famous Rochdale Principles, and over a period of four months they struggled to pool £1 per person for a total of 28 pounds of capital. On 21 December 1844, they opened their store in 31 Toad Lane with a very meagre selection of butter, sugar, flour, oatmeal and a few candles. Within three months, they expanded their selection to include tea and tobacco, and they were soon known for providing high quality, unadulterated goods. Ten years later, the British co-operative movement had grown to nearly 1,000 co-operatives. Although other co-operatives had preceded them, the Rochdale Pioneers’ co-operative became the prototype for societies in Great Britain.

A visitors book was kept in Toad Lane from the 1860s and shows the range of their influence. By 1862 German, Spanish and Russian visitors had made their way to Rochdale to see how a successful co-operative was run. The following year Alexander Campbell, the Scottish Owenite and originator of the dividend signed the book. The first Japanese signatory was Tomizo Noguchi in 1872.

Rochdale Pioneers traded independently until 1991, with name changes inspired by mergers with neighbouring co-operatives, finally ending up today as the The Co-operative Group.

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Historical Map downloads of Ireland – Half Price!

Cassini’s Irish downloadable maps from the mid to late 1800’s.
Cassini Historical Mapping of Ireland

From only £4.49! One week only. Offer available until 16th Feb 2015

• Instant map downloads of any area.    • Including personal inscription.
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Cassini is delighted to offer you our stunning range of historical Ordnance Survey maps of Ireland. Simply search for the area you are interested in, buy and download the PDF.

Whatever your interest in the past our historical maps are invaluable works of reference. Ideal for research, or print and frame for a personalised decorative map centred on the location of your choice.

Irish 6 Inch First Edition Downloads –  c. 1840’s
Ireland First Edition Downloads – c. 1860’s
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Map of the month – Old Sarum. 3 houses, 7 voters and 2 MPs

Old Sarum  –  Map: County Series 1:2500 1881
Old Sarum & Rotten Boroughs

Old Sarum, in Wiltshire, was  a parliamentary constituency in England from 1295 to 1832. The constituency was on the site of what had been the original settlement of Salisbury, known as Old Sarum.

It was a so-called ‘rotten borough’ (or ‘pocket borough’) with an extremely small electorate that was consequently vastly over-represented and could be used by a patron to gain undue influence. Rotten boroughs were one of the curiosities of the British electoral system, where fathers passed on constituencies (and the power as an MP that went with this) to their sons as if they were personal property. In many such boroughs the very few electors could not vote for whom they truly wanted due to the lack of a secret ballot or simply due to the lack of a candidate desirable to their political philosophy. The term rotten borough came into use in the 18th century. The word “rotten” had the connotation of corruption as well as that of long-term decline.

Rotten boroughs had very few voters. For example, Old Sarum, in Wiltshire, only had three houses and a population of seven people. It was a possession of the Pitt family from the mid-17th century to 1802, and one of its Members of Parliament was Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder. In 1802 the Pitt family sold it for £60,000, even though the land and manorial rights were worth £700 a year at most.

Examples of rotten boroughs in 1831 include the following:

Borough Patron MPs Returned Houses in Borough Voters in 1831
Old Sarum, Wiltshire Earl of Caledon 2 3 7
Gatton, Surrey Sir Mark Wood 2 23 7
Bramber, West Sussex Duke of Rutland 2 35 20
Newton, Isle of Wight Sir Fitzwilliam Barrington 2 14 23
Dunwich, Suffolk Lord Huntingfield 2 44 32

With just a few individuals with the vote and no secret ballot, it was easy for candidates to buy their way to victory.

The constituency of Old Sarum was abolished under the Reform Act 1832

Indications of prehistoric settlement at Old Sarum have been discovered from as early as 3000 bc. An was erected around 400 bc, The site continued to be occupied during the Roman period. The Saxons took the British fort in the 6th century and later used it as a stronghold against marauding Vikings. Later the Normans constructed a motte and bailey castle, a stone curtain wall, and a great cathedral. A royal palace was built within the castle for King Henry I and was subsequently used by Plantagenet monarchs. This heyday of the settlement lasted for around 300 years. By the early 13th century the population had moved to New Sarum at the foot of the hill, now known as the cathedral city of Salisbury and the long neglected castle was finally abandoned by Edward II in 1322.

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Map of the month – Plymouth

Plymouth (Ordnance Survey Popular Edition 1:50,000 – published in 1919)
Plymouth
28th Nov 1919. Nancy Astor elected Member of Parliament for Plymouth, becoming Britain’s first woman MP.

Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Viscountess Astor (19 May 1879 — 2 May 1964) was an American-born socialite who made a second marriage to Waldorf Astor as a young woman in England. After he succeeded to the peerage and entered the House of Lords, she entered politics, in 1919 winning his former seat in Plymouth and becoming the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. She served in Parliament as a representative of the Conservative Party for Plymouth Sutton until 1945, when she was persuaded to step down.

Contrary to popular belief she was not the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament. The first was Countess Constance Markievicz but as a Sinn Féin MP she followed their abstentionist policy and refused her seat, making Nancy Astor the first serving woman MP.

In the 1930’s Nancy Astor and several of her friends and associates became heavily involved in the German appeasement policy; this group became known as the “Cliveden set”, a Germanophile social network that was in favour of friendly relations with Germany.
Nancy Astor was also friends with US Ambassador to Britain Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Reportedly as fiercely anti-Communist as they were anti-Semitic, Kennedy and Astor looked upon Adolf Hitler as a welcome solution to both of these “world problems”. In a 1939 speech, a fellow MP called her “The Member for Berlin”.

After serving for 26 years (1919 – 1945) The Tories believed she had become a political liability and her husband said that if she ran for office again the family would not support her. So in 1945 she retired from politics.

On one occasion, while canvassing in Plymouth, she was greeted at a door by a young girl whose mother was away. As Astor was unfamiliar with the area, she had been given a naval officer as an escort. The girl, when asked about her mother, replied: “…but she said if a lady comes with a sailor they’re to use the upstairs room and leave ten bob”.

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Map of the month – Port Richborough

Port Richborough
Port Richborough, Kent
(Map; Popular Edition 1920. Original scale 1:63,360 or One Inch to the Mile)

Situated amid the East Kent marshes Richborough is perhaps the most symbolically important of Roman sites in Britain. It is thought by many that the four invading Legions under Aulus Plautius assembled in Richborough after landing in Britain during the Claudian Invasion of A.D. 43.

Fast forward nearly 1900 years and troops were heading back into Europe. In January 1916 during the height of WWI, it was decided to develop Richborough as a depot and base for inland water transport to service the troops. At this time Richborough consisted of a short length of quay suitable for barges, and one solitary dwelling house.

By 1918, the enormous feat had been completed of transforming Richborough  into a large and well- equipped seaport, of 2,000 acres, complete with all services and capable of handling 30,000 tons of traffic per week. 2,300 ft of new wharf was built for the cross-channel barge service, in which, at the end of the war, 242 barges were employed, including ten of 1,000 ton capacity.

Among the new ports features was what we we today call a “roll-on, roll-off” ferry – for railway trains. Among the many tons moved from Richborough were complete trains carrying tanks, direct from the factories to the British army on the front line. The use of train-ferries greatly reduced the amount of labour required in the transport of these items. It took only 30 to 40 minutes to load or unload the 54 railway wagons and fifty or sixty motor vehicles that could be carried by these train-ferries. An analysis done at the time found that to transport 1,000 tons of war material from the point of manufacture to the front by conventional shipping means involved the use of 1,500 labourers, whereas when using train-ferries that number decreased to around 100 labourers.

So well camouflaged was the port, that it became known as the Mystery Harbour. All port buildings were one-story, their walls and roofs were painted to match the general background of a low-lying area. B Type War BusThe military secret was so strictly and carefully observed by the British, that the existence of the port had been unknown to the Germans during the whole war; the port was often overflown by the aircraft heading to drop bombs on London, where the bombs were striking civilians, but no bombs were ever dropped on Richborough.

After the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, train ferries were used extensively for the return of material from the Front. Indeed according to war office statistics, a greater tonnage of material was transported by train ferry at Richborough in 1919 than in 1918. The returning train ferries had space for motor transport as well as railway rolling stock, thousands of lorries, motor cars and “B Type” buses also returned via this route. It’s a little known fact that buses transported troops to and from the Front Line and were put to use as ambulances and even mobile pigeon lofts. Nearly 1,200 London General Omnibus Company vehicles went on war service, most to France and Belgium, with some travelling as far afield as Egypt.

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Map of the month – Southwick House

Southwick HouseSouthwick House, Hampshire (County series 1:2,500)

One of the most momentous decisions of the Second World War was taken in the old library at Southwick House in June 1944.

Nestling beneath the northern slopes of Portsdown Hill and just to the north of Portsmouth, Southwick House had become home of the RN School of Navigation, HMS Dryad, a stone frigate (shore establishment), moved from the coast due to the heavy bombing of its original home in Portsmouth dockyard in 1941.

southwick3bBy 1943, with the planning for D-Day already underway, the house was chosen to be the location of the Advance Command Post of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. Because of this, HMS Dryad was moved out of the house onto further land requisitioned from the estate.

In April 1944 Admiral Ramsay, the Allied naval commander-in-chief for Operation NEPTUNE, the naval assault phase of OVERLORD, moved his headquarters to Southwick House. As D-Day approached, the house became the headquarters of the main allied commanders, including Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral Ramsay and the Army Commander-in-Chief General Montgomery.

The invasion of Normandy had been tentatively selected for Monday 5 June, but the weather forecast was bad, so Eisenhower ordered a 24-hour postponement. Then, later in the day, the senior meteorologist, announced to the senior commanders gathered in the old library at Southwick House that there would be a short interval of fine weather on Tuesday, 6 June.

“OK let’s go!……..With these words, the greatest invasion force that the World has ever seen prepared to launch the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating.  Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day, with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June. ‘The Great Crusade’ culminated in May 1945 with the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.

Southwick House remained part of the naval base, HMS Dryad, until its closure in 2004. Southwick Park is now the home of the Defence College of Policing and Guarding.

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Map of the week – Ned Ludd did it!

Main Map: Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2500 – 1886
Anstey, Leicestershire – Home of Ned Ludd.
Map of Anstey - First Luddite

Anstey is a large village in Leicestershire, England, located north west of Leicester in the borough of Charnwood with a population was about 6,000.
Known as the Gateway to Charnwood Forest, Anstey has another claim to fame, or infamy, in the shape of one Ned Ludd.

On the 9th of October 1779 Ned Ludd, an apprentice stocking maker, reportedly angered by the threat to his livelihood (according to one version), or annoyed at his father giving him a beating, destroyed a number of stocking frames with a hammer. News of the incident spread, and later whenever frames were sabotaged in protest at the growing industrialisation of their trades, people would jokingly say “Ned Ludd did it”.

Little detail is known about the first ‘Luddite’ attack in 1779, indeed in reality the true Luddite movement did not begin until the beginning of the 19th century. The Luddites were textile workers who protested against newly developed labour-saving machinery from 1811 to 1817. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the craftsmen with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.

When the Luddites first took up their hammers, 32 years after the first attack, Ned’s identity was appropriated to become the folklore character of Captain Ludd, also known as King Ludd or General Ludd, the Luddites’ alleged leader and founder and who, like Robin Hood, was reputed to live in Sherwood Forest.

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