Memories of the Co-op

113Today we have a guest post from our Exhibitions Assistant, Josh Butt, who tells us about our visitors memories of the Cooperative.


People have left a range of interesting co-operative shop memories at our exhibition The People’s Business. Many are childhood memories of shopping with mum at the local co-op, reflecting a time when nearly every family were members at a local co-operative society.

We also have many memories of the milk tokens left for the milkmen as payment. Including this story left by a then cheeky 4 year old:

‘I went round and collected all the neighbours milk tokens and proudly took them all back to my mum. I didn’t understand why she wasn’t pleased and made me take them all back and apologise!’

Others remember being sent to the shop on errands:

‘Being sent to buy the next weeks supply of ‘milk checks’ from Brightside and Carbrook Co-op, Sheffield in the early 50s’

One visitor remembers working at the Broughton Cabinet, Clothing, Handkerchief and Shirt factory and their own personal link to the Munich Air Disaster:

‘Spent many happy years as a machinist in Broughton from 15 years to 30 and went on many trips out to Blackpool. We made blazers for Manchester United in 1958, sad year.’

Lots of memories focus on the famous dividend or saving stamps. Including several people who can still remember mum’s ‘divi’ number:

‘My mum’s Co-op number 11404!’

‘I can still remember the divi number which I had to give when I went to get the shopping for my mother.’

‘I remember going to the Co-op on a Monday with my mum and younger sister and brother to get the groceries. These were delivered later in the day. We got penguin biscuits, the treat for the week! Still know my divi no. 24448.’

‘Sticking my mum’s co-op stamps in her book after shopping at the local co-op’

‘I remember going up the stairs at Hindsford Co-op with the ‘divi’ sheet and watching men in white/brown coats cutting amounts of butter from a huge slab.’

‘Watching the bacon slicer move when it cut the bacon. Always a chair for elderly people to sit on.’

These fascinating little memory snippets offer us a great peek into the past and make me remember my own childhood shopping memories and how they are of a different generation. There was no nipping out to get groceries, only getting in the car and driving to the supermarket. I remember eating the grapes on the way round the shop, or sneaking some chocolate onto the conveyor belt at the checkout (it never worked!).


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