Co-operative memories

High Street 1957

On the left of this 1957 photo is the Scunthorpe Cooperative Central Stores on the High Street whilst on the right the tall building is the Co-op’s Emporium.

These girls were featured on the first front cover of the Scunthorpe Co-operative Society Ltd’s Focus magazine in October 1959. The magazine was an ‘in house’ magazine publish for its employees to keep them informed of the Society’s  news and progress.

These girls feature on the first front page of the Co-ops Focus magazine in October 1959

These girls featured on the first front page of the Co-ops Focus magazine in October 1959

The Co-op in Scunthorpe in those days was the dominant force in retailing in the town with numerous outlets on the High Street, estates and villages.

“Apart from it being a short one-word title FOCUS was decided upon because it was felt it symbolised the whole point of the magazine – to put you in focus on what is happening within the Society and your fellow employees,” it read.

The cover photograph was taken at the Society’s annual presentation of educational awards at the Civic Theatre the previous month and was chosen because it depicted recognition of achievement after a lot of hard work by the girls. The certificates being held were awarded for the success in the 1958/59 session examinations. Those pictured were among 120 employees presented with certificates and checks.

All the Cogs Matter was the presentation given by the Society’s president Mrs Marion Ashton and the managing secretary Mr W Auty.

“You are a member of the fourth largest staff in Scunthorpe –you have in fact, nearly 1000 colleagues – and it is probably you will not know many of them, or in fact much about the ramifications of the firm you work for,” said the address.

It said that because of the numbers and dispersed nature of the staff there was a danger the loyalty and spirit of the staff as a whole may be weakened.

“You, personally, are liable to feel less a member of a happy family and more like an insignificant cog in a large, impersonal and over-complicated machine.

“This matter of cogs is important. Any machine that is to function smoothly depend on every working part doing its job. If one part, however small, gives up or doesn’t function as it should the entire machine is thrown out of gear. That is just as true of our Society as it is of any mechanical device. The difference is that, YOU are the cog and YOU are a person subject, like any other person on the human element. You have feelings and they play an important part in your work.

“You must feel that the work you’re doing is worthwhile, that it is contributing, not only to your success, but to that of the Society.”

The message went on to say that Focus would oil the cogs of the machine.

“It will not be an organ of management to issue instructions and directives, but rather a means of keeping you in touch with things that are happening.”

Milk Rounds

A Co-op milk girl is featured here from a photo, which graced the front cover of the Scunthorpe Co-operative Society’s Focus magazine in February 1960.

Mrs P J Cheesman on her rounds

Mrs P J Cheesman on her rounds

The hand drawn milk and horse drawn grocery wagons of the Co-op were once a familiars sight in the town.

The magazine noted: “The lot of a milk round girl, as our picture shows, is not always a happy one. But despite the snowy conditions and though her feet were wet through, Mrs P J Cheesman could still raise a smile.

“Mrs. Cheeseman is one of 24 Women and girls who, guiding their electrically driven milk floats through Scunthorpe’s streets, ensure that the Co-operative milk gets through –in all weathers. There are an additional nine lorries, which deliver to the surrounding district.

“The rounds staff begin their day around 4:30am and 6am. After they have unloaded and checked–in the milk tokens with the office staff, their daily stint is over. Bad weather, however, can delay them up to two or three hours.”

New drinks department opens in Ashby Supermarket

The September 1963 addition of the Co-operatives magazine, Focus, reported on the opening of a new drinks section at its Ashby Supermarket.

Ashby Supermarket

Ashby Supermarket

It features a photo of the new unit with department head Alan Kelly, who originated from Lancashire but lived at 167 Burringham Road, Ashby.

He was educated in Dukinfield, spent six years as a hotel manager in Failsworth and was manager of the Masonic Hall in Stalybridge.

“He can to Scunthorpe in 1957 and has recently been working at Richard Thomas and Baldwins (Redbourn works). While in Lancashire he studied hotel management at Bolton Technical College.

“Although the drinks section is completely separate from the rest of the supermarket, it enables housewives in the Ashby area to buy drinks to take home as they do their shopping.

“For those who want refreshments while they do their shopping the society has installed a new tea and coffee machine,” it reported.

The same addition of the magazine features details of the Harlequin Restaurant at the Co-ops Laneham Street premises. It said the bar was the centre-piece of the redesigned restaurant.

“It is not intended for direct use by customers but with a full display of the range of drinks available it emphasises the fact the restaurant is licensed. The complete transformation at Laneham Street has taken place in only two months – without any inconvenience to members of the public.

“In fact some regulars have been interested to note the changes taking place day-by-day.

“The restaurant has been fully redecorated, most of the interior wall area has a special wood finish and there is a suspended ceiling with a new lighting system,” it continued.

No7 Branch at Crowle

The Scunthorpe Co-operative Society’s No7 Branch at Crowle features in this picture below, pictured from the left is Ralf Waterland, Billy Shepard, Fred Chafer, Mr Bellamy (store manager) and Frank Parkin.

No7 Branch at Crowle was originally run by the Goole Co-operative Society

No7 Branch at Crowle was originally run by the Goole Co-operative Society

Prior to the opening of the new Road/Rail bridge at Keadby in 1916 the Co-op at Crowle had been under the ownership of the Goole Co-operative Society, the new bridge made it possible for the Scunthorpe Co-operative Society to deliver goods on the west side of the river Trent and so, in order to avoid overlapping, amicable arrangements were made with the Goole Co-operative Society to take over their Crowle Branch from 1st January 1917.

Worlds Longest Sausage

Worlds longest sausage

Worlds longest sausage



The Scunthorpe Co-operative Society’s warehouse on Rowland Road was the venue for a world record attempt in 1966. In a team effort more than 30 master butchers assembled at the premises on 29th June to conjure up this tastebud tingling delight.

The finished sausage measured 3010ft and weighed 8.5 hundredweight. It remained a world beater for alomost 10 years until it was beaten  on 18th April 1976.

Shops on the move in 1964

A report in the Scunthorpe Co-op’s Focus magazine from 1964 noted new schemes.

It reads,

“The latest news is of a new double-fronted prams and babywear shop. Three other developments are well underway. One, the food distribution and pre-packaging unit in Ashby Road should be complete in a matter of weeks. 

“The pram and babywear shop, which has been in temporary accommodation at 45 High Street, will have new double-fronted premises opposite the Emporium. 

“This will be a return home for the babywear section which was moved out of the present Young and Gay shop while the Chemist Department Store was being built. Young and Gay will be given space in the Central drapery department; it will be housed on the first floor next to the fashion showroom. 

“Our Wool Shop, too, will move to the shop which is temporarily occupied by the Cosmetics Salon. Cosmetics are now in the new Chemist department store. The Wool Shop’s new premises are next door but one to their present position. 

“The moves will leave two shops, adjacent to each other, vacant and these will be made into an attractive double home for prams and babywear. Addition displays of prams, nursery furniture and babywear will thus be made possible.”

Excited Youngsters as Santa arrives in 1959

The Co-op’s Focus magazine from December 1959 reports of delighted youngsters cheering the arrival of Santa on the back of a rocket on 28th November that year.

It reads,

“The youngsters would not let the Co-operative Father Christmas and his gleaming silver rocket out of their sight, and a large party of them followed him on his tour of our main streets to the Toy fair, where another outsized crowd was awaiting him. 

“Santa’s triumphant entry to town, the most impressive ever, began when a rocket, mounted on a lorry, appeared on the Ashby Road railway bridge. 

“There was a roar of youthful voices from the hundreds of children who had gathered at the railway station forecourt. Scores of them ‘broke ranks’ and rushed to greet him. Santa waved and smiled through his luxuriant beard. And the music of a Christmas carol sounded from the rocket’s loudspeaker.”

Santa on his rocket in 1959

Santa on his rocket in 1959

The report continued “As the rocket made its way slowly along Station Road, Cole Street, High Street and Oswald Road people popped their heads out of upstairs windows, shop staff and customers peered through theirs. Others craned their necks from the tops of buses, and usually stoney-faced officials permitted themselves a smile.”

The report tells that the rocket arrived at the Toy Fair on Oswald Road to be greeted by a large crowd, which surged forward.

Santa in his red cloak climbed out of his rocket to be greeted by the president of the Co-operative Society, Mariam Ashton.

There was another rush to see Santa days later when he travelled through the town from the Toy Fair to the Co-operative’s Supermarket in Ashby on 3rd December.

The report said,

“Within seconds of his alighting from the rocket, which this time was illuminated, the main doors at the supermarket were jammed with excited youngsters and, soon afterwards the broad stairway leading to the first floor was crowded. 

“The crush lasted for more than an hour as Santa and two helpers handed out gifts from the lucky dip barrels. 

“It was the biggest crowd at the supermarket since the first few days of its opening.”  

Santa and his rocket head along Scunthorpe High Street.

Santa and his rocket head along Scunthorpe High Street.

The following year saw the Co-ops Santa arrive on 26th November 1960. This time, was played by 79-year-old Mr W Quince and the theme was a huge Christmas cracker pulled by reindeer.

The Focus report for December 1960 said,

“Santa stood, smiled and waved then the cracker moved off along Station Road into Cole Street and along Scunthorpe High Street, followed by a crowd of 30 to 40 children. 

“A 60 yard long group of people either side of the road waited near the Central Emporium. Among them were many who had already seen Santa arrive once at the station. 

“White beard dismounted to be greeted by the Society’s president, Mariam Ashton. In two minutes the Toy Fair and the stairs leading down to it were jammed, and the cramming lasted for two hours. 

“The crush was nearly as bad during the afternoon and only ended with the homeward rush for tea,” it concluded.

Co-op girl has days takings snatched in robbery

The front-page headline of the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph of 22nd December 1960 reported that a Co-operative worker had a bag of cash snatched from her whilst she was on the way to the bank.

The headline,


The sub headlines said ‘ Girl was taking day’s takings to the bank’ & ‘County Search By Police’ 

The story read,

Police throughout Lincolnshire where searching today for a man who snatched £150 from a shop assistant in Scunthorpe last night. 

The assistant, a girl, was on her way to the bank with the day’s takings from Scunthorpe Co-operative Society’s cosmetic shop in the High Street. 

The money was taken in a dark 10 foot at the rear of the shop. 

The girl told the police that the man was about 5ft 9in tall and was wearing a grey belted raincoat, muffler and grey beret. 

He is believed to be about 25. 

The snatch took place about 5:30pm. Anybody who saw the man answering to this description near the area of the shop is asked to get in touch with the police immediately. 

Peggy Sowerby (nee Smith) on the left with Rose Mary Waterfall on the right seen here delivering in the Priory Lane area.

Peggy Sowerby (nee Smith) on the left with Rose Mary Waterfall on the right seen here delivering in the Priory Lane area.

Bread was delivered to households by the Co-operative in days gone by and one of the horse drawn bakery vans features in the picture above.

Peggy Sowerby (nee Smith) worked as a delivery girl for the Co-op and is seen on the left of the picture, she was brought up on Neath Road and then Berkeley Street attending Frodingham Infants, Brumby Juniors and Ashby Girls School.

On leaving school she worked for the Co-op bakery delivering bread around the Priory Lane area of Ashby by horse drawn cart for around four years. She grew close to the horses and it was the death of a horse called Bowler which acted as a catalyst to her leaving.

She went on to work at Firth Browns in Dawse Lane for five years on crane driving and fork-lift truck driving. Her father, Harold Smith, was a foreman in the machine shop and had got her the job there.

She left to start a family but later worked as a waitress at the Berkeley Hotel and the Wortley Hotel before becoming a barmaid at the Crosby Hotel and later at the Liberal Club.

Pictured in the Co-op butchers on Cottage Beck Road during the 1950's is Frank Stone.

Pictured in the Co-op butchers on Cottage Beck Road during the 1950’s is Frank Stone.

westcliff coop

Westcliff Co-operative shop in May 1967 with the Desert Rat Pub under construction just seen to the right.


Construction of the Co-op distribution warehouse on the junction of Ashby Road and Rowland Road. It was built by the United Steel Structural Company in 1965 – it was destroyed by fire on 19th March 1995.



Lifting a 130ft span into place


The Co-op distribution at the junction of Ashby Road and Rowland Road. As seen in this photo from the one above, a roundabout was added to the junction. The building closed as a warehouse in 1990 and stood empty until fire destroyed it on 19th March 1995.


A view inside the Co-operative distribution warehouse

Jubilee Hall

Jubilee Hall

Jubilee hall was built on Laneham Street in 1925 to Celebrate the Scunthorpe Co-operative’s 50th Anniversary, a year later it became a cinema showing silent films, in 1930 it re-opened after cleaning, decorating and the installation of a new Western Electric Sound System, it had a proscenium width of 20ft 8in.

The first manager of the cinema was ‘Tishy’ Roberts, when he left  in 1933 Herbert Manton took charge – Tom Harling was its longest serving projectionist. The demands of the second world war saw Tom doubling as manager, he reverted back to being projectionist when Mr Manton returned from war service.

The cinema closed on 25th November 1955 and was converted to The Harlequin restaurant, it was later used as a store and a bank. In 2006 it was opened at the Pearl City Chinese Restaurant after being bought for an undisclosed sum at an auction in Manchester by brothers Yan and Lee Cheung.

Jubilee Cinema

The Jubilee Cinema on Laneham Street

Horace Masterman of the Dewsbury Pioneers’ Society acted as film advisor to the Horbury Society and booked its films – a service he also provided for the Scunthorpe Society – as mentioned the Scunthorpe Co-operative society had opened its Jubilee Hall in 1925, and film shows were probably given in conjunction with CWS lectures. In April 1927 a specially furbished cinema — the Jubilee Cinema de Luxe — was incorporated into the Hall. A small orchestra provided musical support to the programme and occasionally special artistes were engaged in this capacity. The week commencing 28th October 1929 saw the engagement of “Gaston — The World’s Premier Xylophonist”  The following month, week commencing 11th November 1929, saw the initial appearance of the “Jubilee Follies — 12 clever local ladies in songs and dances“. The Scunthorpe and Frodingham Star assured its readers that it found the Follies “a bright group of young local girls singing and dancing with all the sang-froid of experienced professionals” and “Jubilee patrons are to be assured of a feast for the eye as well as the ear” .

The Jubilee faced considerable local competition. The local exhibitor Arthur Watson claimed in 1934 that “no town in England in proportion to population has so many cinemas as Scunthorpe“. At that time Scunthorpe boasted six cinemas and further occasional exhibition at the local variety theatre, the Palace, for a local population of approximately 40,000. Despite that, the Jubilee, with 557 seats a comparatively small cinema, entertained 107,000 patrons in the first half year declared in 1934.

The Jubilee’s special supporting attractions were obviously designed to give it an edge amongst its competitors. Along with other local cinemas, special morning shows, commencing at 10.30am, were given for the benefit of shift workers at the local Steel Works. Furthermore, following the grand re-opening of 2nd June 1930 reported in the Scunthorpe and Frodingham Star, the Jubilee boasted “superb talking pictures, the best in Lincolnshire” and an “elaborate atmospheric decorative scheme which will, to say the least, provide a delightful feast to the eye“. Scunthorpe Society opted for the Western Electric Sound System — “The Voice of Action“. It opened with Victor McLaglen in the “All-Talking and Singing Production” of King of the Khyber Rifles“. Interestingly it secured an exclusive contract for the presentation in the district of Mickey Mouse, “the greatest talkie novelty of the day”. In an attempt to appeal to the `high-brows’ the programme also offered the “Extra Special! MARTINELLI the World Famous Tenor in Gems from Pagliacci!” In the opinion of the Scunthorpe and Frodingham Star “there may be people in the town and district who are not enamoured of sound pictures, but this wonderful short film alone is likely to break through all prejudices” 41

The Jubilee endeavoured to remain ahead of its competitors in terms of sound fidelity. In May 1937 the improved Western Electric Sound System “Mirrophonic” was installed. It was claimed that “Mirrophonic sound makes scene acting more intimate, less volume is needed, and music comes through with more purity of tone” By that time the Jubilee also boasted a café, further improving facilities for patrons. The strength of local competition appears to have led the Jubilee to constantly seek to upgrade its service. Further improvements were announced in September 1950, when £3000 was spent on alterations to the café and cinema, with the first appearance in North Lincolnshire of cathode ray lighting: Despite its innovation and energies the Jubilee was the first cinema in Scunthorpe to cease business. The final show was the Technicolour feature The Seekers, starring Jack Hawkins and Glynis Johns, screened on Saturday 26 November 1955.


Jubilee Cinema t

Advert for the 1939 film Confessions of a Nazi Spy showing at the Jubilee Cinema

Jubilee Hall was often used for public meeting and visiting speakers including Ellen Wilkinson MP, who had supported the Jarrow marchers in 1936 as they protested against unemployment. The hall was used as a rostrum for many visiting politicians including Eamon de Valera, the former Prime minister and President of the Irish Republic.


One thought on “Co-operative memories

  1. I would love to find some photos or articles about the Scunthorpe Cooperative Amateur Dramatics society in six sixties.i was a member but only a teenager then.Mr McGovern was the manager/organiser.

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