James A Flanagan.

Wholesale co-operation in Scotland : the fruits of fifty years' efforts, 1868-1918 : an account of the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society, compiled to commemorate the Society's golden jubilee online

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Online LibraryJames A FlanaganWholesale co-operation in Scotland : the fruits of fifty years' efforts, 1868-1918 : an account of the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society, compiled to commemorate the Society's golden jubilee → online text (page 1 of 48)
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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA
LOS ANGELES











WHOLESALE CO-OPERATION
IN SCOTLAND



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Wholesale Co-operation
in Scotland

THE FRUITS OF FIFTY YEARS' EFFORTS
(1868— 1918)



AN ACCOUNT OF THE SCOTTISH CO-OPERATIVE

WHOLESALE SOCIETY, COMPILED TO

COMMEMORATE THE SOCIETY'S

GOLDEN JUBILEE



BY

JAMES A. FLANAGAN

CO-OPERATIVE NEWS



Glasgow :

The Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society Limited

95 Morrison Street

1920



PRINTED BY THE

SCOTTISH CO-OPERATIVE WHOLESALE SOCIETY LIMITED"

SHIELDHALL. GLASGOW



ACO | 830



UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LIBP



3H~



THIS JUBILEE VOLUME
is

DeMcatefc

TO THE HUMBLE MEN AND WOMEN, OF SLENDER , MEANS
AND GIANT HOPES. WHOSE FAITH IN CO-OPERATIVE
PRINCIPLES AND LOYALTY TO CO-OPERATIVE PRACTICE
HAVE REARED THE WONDERFUL ORGANISATION WHOSE
OPERATIONS ARE HEREIN DESCRIBED.



1965103



FOREWORD

It will be news to many readers, although probably not
to most, that Scotland has a double title to be regarded
as the Mecca of Co-operative pilgrims who wish to visit
the scenes of the earliest known Co-operative experiments.
Documentary evidence has established the fact that the
Fenwick Weavers' Society* practised Co-operation, in the
sense in which " Co-operation " is conceived by consumers
who club together for economic advantage, in 1769 — or,
let us say, one hundred and fifty years ago. That is the
earliest Co-operative Society in Great Britain, or anywhere
else, of whose existence documentary proof has been
brought to light. Upon that fact rests Scotland's first
title. The second title rests upon the fact that two
Scottish societies still trading have had a longer
continuous existence than any other societies in the
kingdom — if not in the whole world. These two societies
are the Bridgeton Old Victualling Society (Glasgow),
which was established in 1800, and the Lennoxtown
Friendly Victualling Society, which was established in
1812. The natural law is so strongly predisposed to
Co-operationf in every sense that it may be assumed that
Co-operation, even in the trading sense, showed itself in
many places and in many forms during the centuries that
passed before the Fenwick experiment, notwithstanding

* See p. 22 and Appendix I.

t " All are needed by each one;

Nothing is fair or good alone." — Emerson.



viii FOREWORD

the fact that no contemporary writings have been
unearthed to prove this view. Many little societies
followed those I have mentioned.* In their way, these
little societies were all charming manifestations of the will
to exist ; but circumstances were against their becoming
the Co-operative societies of to-day just as circumstances
are against the wild rose of the wayside becoming, of
itself, a Sunburst or a Gloire de Dijon. With the spread
of education among the working-classes, and with
inspiration drawn from their own experiences, later
generations of Co-operators devised means to protect
their societies from the withering blasts that blew from
without, and also devised means to develop their societies
from within. Experiences, that were sometimes unhappy,
showed that Co-operative societies spread over the
country could do a great deal to help the people who made
use of them ; but showed also that these societies could
do a great deal more if they themselves co-operated than
if each society remained an isolated unit. Co-operation
between societies, or the federation of societies, seemed
only a rational development of Co-operation between
individuals, and this development in Scotland has most
frequently taken the form of federated baking societies.
The federated baking societies are, as a rule, local in
their operations, t but most Co-operative federations in
Scotland, which are not purely local organisations, serve
some single purpose or are concerned with some single
trade.* The Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society

* Over three hundred existed in 1830.

fThe United Co-operative Baking Society (Glasgow) is something more than
a local organisation ; but it is unique in some respects.

XE.g. Paisley Co-operative Manufacturing Society; The '"Scottish Co-operator"
Newspaper Society ; The Scottish Co-operative Laundry Association.



FOREWORD be

differs from them all in its magnitude and in its scope.
No trade, except the trade in intoxicating liquors, is
without its scope ; no part of Scotland is outwith its
territory ; as the local Co-operative societies grow, it
grows. It is a national institution to the Co-operative
mind because even the other Co-operative federations in
Scotland are members of it. From the public point of
view it may also be regarded as a national institution,
because the societies which constitute its membership
•comprise over half a million men or women members who,
with their families, account for more than half the
population of Scotland. The Jubilee of such an
Association warranted the publication — in the public
interest as well as in the Co-operative interest — of a clear
account of what the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale
Society is ; how it is constituted ; how it came into being ;
how, and by what stages, it has grown into the giant
Association it now is ; and what it has actually done,
during the past half century, to entitle it to claim the
respect and the gratitude of the masses of the people of
Scotland. To compile this account has been my task.
I have already had the pleasure of preparing several little
books* in which I have submitted records of the
achievements of some local Co-operative societies that
had completed fifty years of activity, and a similar task
fell to me when the Lennoxtown Society celebrated its
■centenary .t These experiences, contrary to what one
might expect, only increased the anxiety with which
I faced the undertaking which the publication of this

*" Alloa Co-operative Society" (1912); "Co-operation in Lanark" (1913);
""Co-operation in Sauchie " (1915).

+ " Memoirs of a Century" (1913).



x FOREWORD

volume completes. Those little works dealt with local
ventures which were, nevertheless, local triumphs for
Co-operation. The volume now in the reader's hands is
not a local record. It surveys half a century of massed
Co-operative effort in Scotland. By it, some will judge
whether there is wisdom in that form of collectivism which
we call Voluntary Co-operation, or whether Co-operation
is worth while. Some readers will begin with minds not
favourably disposed to Co-operation, and I hope that they
will not end their reading in the same disposition. The
book, however, is written primarily for Co-operators who
already know something of the Scottish Co-operative
Wholesale Society. It is a Co-operative production.
Men dead and gone have been among my collaborateurs ;
for, although their voices are now hushed, their written
records live, and have been readily placed at my disposal
by their successors in the Co-operative movement. My
indebtedness to living Co-operators is acknowledged
elsewhere. The S.C.W.S. directors and officials have
not sought to influence my treatment of the subject, and
they are therefore not committed to the views I express
in these pages. I ought to add that the publication has
come later than was intended ; but that ought not to be
altogether regretted, as it has enabled me to view the war
activities of the S.C.W.S. in truer perspective.

J. A. F.



CONTENTS

PAGE

Foreword vii

HISTORICAL SECTION.

I. Hardships of the Scottish People Before the Co-
operative Era 1

II. Advent of Co-operation and Growth of the Movement

till 1860 20

III. The Conception of Wholesale Co-operation and an

Odd Result 3 8

IV. How the S.CW.S. was Brought to Life 50

V. Five Years of Experimental Effort 69

VI. Serious Storms Safely Weathered 87

VII. Distributive Branches Denote and Aid Progress 100

VIII. Productive Enterprises Follow Success in Distribution 114

IX. The Society's Coming of Age and a Retrospect 133

X. An Eventful Decade in which the Society Accepts a

Challenge 144

XI. The Society Carries its Flag Overseas 165

XII. A Chapter of Memorable Events 178

XIII. The Last Decade and the Greatest 195

XIV. A Jubilee-year View of " The Wholesale " 235

XV. The Economic Influence of the Wholesale 243

XVI. The Wholesale in Times of National Crisis 269

XVII. The Wholesale as a Social Influence 283

XVIII. Conclusion 291

DESCRIPTIVE SECTION.

I. " Morrison Street " 301

II. The Central Premises 303

III. The Grocery Departments 308

IV. Leith Grocery Branch 315

V. Kilmarnock Grocery Branch 317

VI. Dundee Grocery Branch 318

VII. The Drapery Warehouse 320

VIII. Furniture Warehouse and Showrooms 324

IX. Edinburgh Furniture Warehouse 327

X. Stationery and Advertising 329

XI. Insurance and Friendly Societies 334

XII. The Paisley Road " Gusset " 338

XIII. Other Glasgow Centres 340

XIV. Building and Allied Departments 342

XV. Flour and Oatmeal Milling 346



Xll

XVI.

XVII.

XVIII.

XIX.

XX.

XXI.

XXII.

XXIII.

XXIV.

XXV.

XXVI.

XXVII.

XXVIII.

XXIX.

XXX.

XXXI.

XXXII.

XXXIII.

XXXIV.

XXXV.

XXXVI.

XXXVII.

XXXVIII.

XXXIX.

XL.



I.

II.
III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

X.

XI.

XII.

XIII.

XIV.

XV.

XVI.

XVII.



CONTENTS

PAGE

Creameries, Margarine Factory, and Milk Centres . . . 352

Sausage, Ham-curing, and Bacon Factories 359

Fish and Fish Curing 361

Aerated Water Factories 363

Shieldhall and its Interests 366

Boot and Shoe Production and Tannery 370

The Printing Department 374

The Clothing Factories 379

Shirts, Hosiery, and Underclothing 382

The Cabinet Factory 387

The Tinware Factory 390

Productive Grocery Departments 393

The Chemical and Sundries Department 396

Tobaccos and Cigarettes 400

Mechanical, Electrical, and Motor Engineering 403

Brush Factory and Cooperage 404

The Fire Brigade 405

Wool Spinning and Weaving 406

The Jute Mills 410

Transport and Allied Departments 414

Soap and Glycerine Works 418

Wholesale Estates and Farms 422

Tea and Cocoa Production 425

Overseas Enterprises 430

Retail Branches of the Wholesale 435

APPENDICES.

Notes on the Fenwick Weavers' Society 440

Statistics from First Scottish Co-operative Survey, 1 867 442

Scottish Co-operative Statistics, 1911 443

Scottish Co-operative Statistics, 1918 444

Original Plan of the S.C.W.S 445

First Quarterly Report of the S.C.W.S 446

Descriptive Account of Procession at Opening of

Central Premises 448

Table Showing Progress of S.C.W.S. since 1868 450

S.C.W.S. Capital Account, 1918 454

Inventory of Land in Possession of the S.C.W.S., 1918 455
Inventory of Buildings in Possession of the S.C.W.S.,

1918 457

Table Showing S.C.W.S. Employees at Date of Jubilee

Celebrations 458

Comparative Table showing Trading Relations

between Wholesale and Retail Societies 459

Committee and Officials at the Coming of Age 460

Directors, Auditors, and Officials at Jubilee 461

List of Elected Officials and Directors since 1868. . . . 464

Jubilee Celebrations, 1 91 9 468



ILLUSTRATIONS



Morrison Street, Glasgow Frontispiece.

Robert Stewart, J.P Facing page xvi.

John Pearson, J.P n 1

William Maxwell, K.JB.E „ 16

Robert Macintosh, J.P. , n 17

David Dale and Owenite Associations n 22

Old-time Scottish Co-operative Board n 23

Pioneers of the S.C.W.S .. 26

Early English and Welsh Helpers ,.,.-... M 27

The Two General Managers n 32

Survivors of the Original Board * 33

The Society's Secretaries — 1868-1918 n 48

The Only Treasurers of the S.C.W.S n 49

Directors before Mr Barrowman's Retirement in 1881 m 64

Joint Group English and Scottish C.W.S. Directors, 1897 m 65

Group of Joint Buyers, 1897 n 80

Some Veteran Officials in 1 91 8 n 81

More Veteran Officials ,, 96

Board of Directors, 1899 .. 97

Jubilee Year Group of Directors m 112

S.C.W.S. Finance Committee, 1918 n 113

S.C.W.S. Grocery Committee, 1918 m 128

S.C.W.S. Drapery Committee, 1918 ,, 129

Auditors at Jubilee n 144

The S.C.W.S. Supreme Court n 145

A Federation of the World „ 176

Distinguished Visitors at Shieldhall u 177

Original Site at 95 Morrison Street n 192

S.C.W.S. Central Premises „ 193

At the Central Premises n 208

The Grocery Departments m 209

The Grocery Departments — Elevation of New Warehouse n 224

Leith Grocery and Provision Warehouse n 225

Drapery Warehouse, Glasgow (exterior) n 240

Drapery Warehouse, Glasgow (interior) n 241

Glasgow Furniture Warehouse — One of the Showrooms. . n 256

China, Crockery, and Glassware Department n 256

Music and Musical Instruments Department m 257

Jewellery Saleroom n 257

xiii



xiv ILLUSTRATIONS

Stationery Warehouse and Showroom Facing page 272

Chancelot Flour Mills „ 273

Regent Flour Mills , 288

Enniskillen Premises u 289

Fish and Fish Curing n 304-305

A Hive of Industry n 320

Spinning and Weaving Mills n 321

Wool Bings and Carding Room at Ettrick M 352

Tay bank Works — Jute Preparing and Spinning n 353

Taybank Works — Jute Yarn Winding and Weaving.... M 368

The Wholesale's Prize Stud „ 369

Opening of Calderwood Castle n 384

Belgian Refugees at Calderwood Castle n 385

Tea Production — Estates of the E. and S. C.W.S n 400

Views on the Tea Estates n 401

Employees on the Tea Estates n 416

Blending and Packing Tea at the London Warehouse.. n 417

West African Enterprises n 424

Views of Cape Coast Castle n 425

Luton Cocoa and Chocolate Works n 432

The Society's Retail Branches n 433



ERRATA.

Page 26 (nineteenth line from top). — For "are on " read "are not on."
Page 31 — For " Mr Littlejohn, M.P.," read " Mr Littleton, M.P."
Page 146 (tenth line from bottom).— For " 1840 " read " 1890."
Page 212 (seventh line from bottom). — For " legislation " read "litigation."



HISTORICAL SECTION



THE PRESIDENT




Mr ROBERT STEWART, J. P.
Elected Director 1899. Elected President 1908.



THE SECRETARY




Mr JOHN PEARSON, J. P., Provost of Alloa
Elected Director 1888. Elected Secretary 1907.



I.



HARDSHIPS OF THE SCOTTISH PEOPLE BEFORE
THE CO-OPERATIVE ERA.

HOSTILITY TO THE EDUCATION OF THE " LOWER ORDERS " WHY THE

DOMINATING CLASSES OBJECTED TO SCHOOLS EXTENT OF VAGRANCY

IN SCOTLAND— THE PEOPLE'S AFFECTION FOR EDUCATION AND THE

CAUSE THEREOF THE PARISH SCHOOLMASTER AND HIS WORK THE

SELFISH SCOTTISH NOBILITY THE RIGHTS OF LANDLORD OVER THE

LIFE OF THE TENANT— SLAVERY FOR SCOTTISH WORKERS RECOGNISED
BY LAW : ITS ABOLITION TAXATION PROFITS WAGES.

Scotland has the credit of having enacted Compulsory-
Education by an Act* of the Scots Parliament passed as early
as 1494. It is true that it only applied to a small section of
the people, the Barons and Freeholders, who were to be mulct
in fines of £20 if they did not " put their sons to the schules,
fra they be sex or seine yciris of age " ; but these were the
people who dominated the country, and the Act, for its time,
was an acknowledgment of the indispensability of education foi
those who had to do, or were at least expected to do, serious
thinking. At that time Scotland, with a population of less
than a million, had three universities for England's two. There
were grammar schools and high schools and a variety of
elementary schools in .every part of the country, all of which
served a useful purpose, and many of which were taken advan-
tage of to a considerable extent. John Knox formulated the
ideal of " a school in every parish, a higher school or college
in cities and large towns, and university education." Between
1560 and 1620 attempts were made by the Scots Parliament to
encourage learning, and many privileges similar to Benefit of
Clergy were granted to those who were considered scholars.!
But education was as costly in Scotland as in other places —
except in a few schools — and it was so costly in universities

* "Acts of the Scots Parliament," Chap. liv.
tCleland's " Annals of Glasgow."

A



2 WHOLESALE CO-OPERATION IN SCOTLAND

that students at these universities were granted special
permission to beg alms.

In the three succeeding centuries, the Scottish Universities,

according to Chambers's Encyclopaedia, did the special service

of supplying the want of those secondary schools which formed

part of John Knox's proposed national system, but which were

not achieved owing to the poverty of the country and the

selfishness of the leading nobility. Even the provision of the

parish school was not carried out rapidly. In 1616 the Privy

Council ordained that there should be a school in every parish.

The injunction was ignored, and the Scots Parliament found

it necessary to pass Acts for the same purpose in 1633, 1645,

and 1696 ; which made it clear that, for one reason or another,

there must have been many parishes without schools ; and the

ideal was not in full application even in the middle of the

nineteenth century.* It would be easy to understand why

people did not send their children to schools where these existed.

The reasons for that would be similar to the reasons which

prevent parents from agreeing readily to the raising of the

school-leaving age to-day, even in Scotland, and which make

many parents in England resentful of any attempt to abohsh

the half-time system. These reasons are either the poverty or

the selfishness of the parents. The poverty of the parents,

however, did not constitute the chief reason for the disobedience

to the Acts of Parliament cited. These Acts were not framed

to compel people to send their children to parish schools ; they

simply ordered that there should be a school in every parish

to which people could send their children if they wished them

to be educated. The reason why these schools were not provided

seems also to have been economic ; for, more than a century

ago, Cleland, in the Annals already quoted, excuses himself from

entering into a refutation of " the illiberal arguments brought

against the principle of educating the lower orders of the people "

because the whole case had been put, shortly before he wrote

his Annals, by " a respectable writer on political science." This

respectable writer had to controvert the argument (of the

opponents of the education of the poor) " that even being

able to read renders the lower classes of the people impatient

of labour, dissatisfied with their condition, turbulent in their

* Kerr's " Scottish Education in School and University."



HARDSHIPS OF THE SCOTTISH PEOPLE 3

disposition, and apt to find fault with the religious and political
establishments of the country." These same opponents of the
poor also argued that the wants of society required " that some
be employed in the lowest and most degrading offices " ; and
those who took that view naturally enquired " to what purpose
will it be to improve the lives of those who can be happy only
in proportion as their ideas are grovelling and unrefined." Such
were the views that a Glasgow political scientist had to combat
at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The views were
not new. Every new ascendancy that has come has attributed
such views to the preceding ascendancy. In Scotland the
Reformers attributed these views to the clergy of the Pre-
Reformation period ; Liberal politicians have blamed Tory
politicians for putting such views into practice, and the political
representatives of Labour blame Tory and Liberal alike for
allowing the rich to keep the poorer classes in ignorance. There
was some method in the madness of those who kept the doors
of the school locked and barred against the common people,
or who forgot to provide a schoolmaster. The position was
much the same as in Ireland, where permission would be
ostentatiously given to erect a school and a site for the school
refused. Plain living, they say, notoriously leads to high
thinking ; and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing for some
people when it is possessed by those whose environment conduces
to high thinking. The environment of the Scots people in the
last two centuries was certainly plain enough to conduce to the
high thinking, and many were fortunate if they could even count
upon a plain living ; for in the beginning of the eighteenth
century, when there was less than a million of a population,
there were 200,000 vagrants who simply begged their way about
the country.* The Captain of Industry as we know him to-day
may curtail the educational opportunities of his " hands " ;
but he will rarely employ an illiterate if there is a choice ; he
prefers one who has some slight elementary knowledge, sufficient
at least, to be able to read and write and count a little. There
are, as we all know, employers who encourage their employees
to undertake educational courses ; but, with a few honourable
exceptions, such employers are only assisting their workers to
become more profitable servants. That is the more elegant way
* Fletcher of Saltoun.



4 WHOLESALE CO-OPERATION IN SCOTLAND

of putting it ; and the red-hot Socialist would say more bluntly
that such employers only want to make the worker able to
produce more wealth for them. The dominant class to-day is
the capitalist-employing class. The dominant class up till the
eighteenth century had passed, and well into the nineteenth
century, was the class which comprised the nobles and the
landowners who had bought land from the nobles, or to whom
it had become forfeit for the non-payment of money lent to the
nobles. Well, the nobles and the landowners had no particular
desire to see the masses of the people educated. There were
the best of reasons why they should not be educated. If they
were educated and could read, there was no knowing what they
might read ; and if they read they might think, and there was
no knowing what sturdy people might think, especially people
who, for the greater part, had not a great deal to lose. The
nation had already thought the English yoke should be cast off,
and, thanks to Bruce and the Abbot of Aberbrothock, it was
done in both the temporal and spiritual senses. The nation had
thrown over two forms of religion and had taken to a third.
The nation had got rid of a queen, however divided opinions
were on the subject ; and the people had been involved in wars
over the ruling sovereign's right to rule. Their nobles, and their
landlords, had led them ; but there was the danger that if
schools were set up in every parish as the Parliament decreed,
the people, with their outlook widened, might readily adopt the
same questioning attitude to the nobles and the landowners
that these same classes had led them to adopt towards others
in power. There was, nevertheless, a very considerable affection
for education among the people themselves. Devoutly religious
men were not content to have the Bible read to them ; they
yearned to read it for themselves, and it will be found, I believe,
that the fervour of the religious life of those centuries did most
to popularise the parish schools that did exist. The parish
schoolmaster was not the " wage-slave " that many teachers
account themselves to-day. He longed for pupils. He was
father and friend as well as teacher. Some of these old worthies
were scholars of brilliant attainments. It is nearly fifty years
since the board school took the place of the parish school, and
most of the old parish schoolmasters have passed away ; but
occasionally one reads an obituary paragraph in the newspapers



HARDSHIPS OF THE SCOTTISH PEOPLE 5

in which it is mentioned that the old worthy whose death is
chronicled was a parish schoolmaster. There must be but few of
them left. Yet these old men sent brilliant students into the
world ; and in more than one case it might be said that the
schoolmaster of a little country parish parted with pupils
equipped not only with the three " R's," but possessed of a keen
enthusiasm for history and geography ; and with a knowledge
of mathematics, Latin, and other higher subjects sufficient to
carry them through the entrance examination at a university.
The spread of education of that kind came late. If it had
come earlier several things might have happened. The Union
of Parliaments, for instance, would never have taken place, and
many laws and customs that prevailed till comparatively recent
times would not have been tolerated by the people.

There grew up in Scotland a vigorous democratic tendency ;
for the Scottish clans had, under their own laws and regard-
less of the Statute Book, simply exercised in their own way the



Online LibraryJames A FlanaganWholesale co-operation in Scotland : the fruits of fifty years' efforts, 1868-1918 : an account of the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society, compiled to commemorate the Society's golden jubilee → online text (page 1 of 48)