the local history of Stoke-on-Trent, England

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Focus on - the opening of the New Co-Operative Emporium, Burslem - 1932





In this new and spacious building, the Burslem and District Industrial Co-operative Society has provided a shopping service that cannot be equalled by any other business house In North Staffordshire

Our expert staff will be pleased to advise you on any question, and you are free to inspect our well-assorted stocks at any time without obligation to purchase

The Management Committee of the Society extends a hearty invitation to all residents of Burslem and district (whether members of the Society or not) to make an exhaustive inspection of the new premises at their earliest convenience



THIS booklet Is to Introduce you to the new Co-operative Emporium that has been erected In Swan Square, Burslem.

This modern store stands In one of Burslem's historic squares. It Is a store that will please you, Interest you, fascinate you with Its up-to-date smartness, its attractive goods, Its modern fittings.

The new store marks an epoch in local co-operative history. Several years ago the Society purchased this site hoping to develop it without delay, but difficulties constantly occurred.

Now the store Is here In reality, and will be open on

26, 27, and 28 SEPTEMBER, 1932,

when MANNEQUIN PARADES will be held

AT 3-0 P.M. AND 6-0 P.M.

to which you are cordially Invited. The Store will commence business on Friday, 30th September, 1932.

IT Is a magnificent building, beautifully equipped. No expense has been spared to make it the best store In Burslem, and from its well-assorted stocks you will be able to satisfy most of your personal and household needs.

It Is a genuine co-operative store - a store which Is owned by its members and managed by a Committee elected by Its members. Its trading policy will be to provide these customer-owners with quality goods at reasonable prices.

No profit will be made in the ordinary accepted sense of the term because the principle behind co-operative trading is that the customer-members provide themselves with the things they need. They cannot make " profit " by selling goods to themselves.

VERY single penny of the " surplus " will be disposed of as the customer-members decide. Part will be given to charity, part will go towards providing a death benefit scheme, part will be used for Educational purposes, but the bulk of it will be equitably divided amongst the customers as dividend on purchases.

This successful and beneficial system of trading Is available to all who join the Society. If you do not belong to the Society our fifty thousand members invite you to apply for membership to-day.


THE New Emporium occupies a site at the corner of Queen Street and Swan Square, Burslem. The Architects, Messrs. Watkln and Maddox, F. & A.R.I.B.A., In planning and designing the building have utilised the area at their disposal to the best advantage, and produced a spacious and thoroughly up-to-date modern store.

EXTERNALLY, the elegantly proportioned building, with its ample window space, presents a refined dignity. A broad flat architrave of pearl-black polished granite "frames " the shop windows the framings and transomes to which are of polished staybrite steel. This combination affords a splendid setting to the " colour " In the goods within the display windows.

Grey glazed terra-cotta has been used for the architraves to the windows above running through the two floors with the cast Iron breast fillings between. The frieze and cornice are also of grey terra-cotta, a small amount of ornament being introduced which is finished with green glaze. The steel stanchions dividing the bays are covered with a hard multi-coloured hand-made brick.

All the windows are of steel specially designed by the architects with ample opening casements.

INTERNALLY, the building is flooded with natural daylight, and the colour schemes to the upper portions of piers, beams, and ceilings have been carefully thought out.

The basement floor is finished with oak blocks, the remaining floors being laid with thick rubber. Vacuum cleaning plant is Installed on each floor.

A broad staircase, finished in terrazzo, connects the storeys, with an electric passenger lift to the staircase well.

An electric lift for conveying goods to each of the floors has also been installed.

A NOVEL feature is the furniture display window, the floor of which is connected to an electric lift. This enables the furniture display to be arranged in the basement and raised to the window display level, and permits constant changing with the minimum of disturbance.

Automatic fire control is fitted throughout the building, and connected to the Fire Station.

The New Emporium


WE find romance where we least expect it, lurking round the corner of everyday affairs.

The history of every co-operative society we know of begins In this manner. A few working men (sometimes miners, sometimes weavers, sometimes railwaymen, sometimes potters) met together at the house of one of their number to discuss the Idea of co-operation. They decided to canvass their friends and neighbours with the object of Inviting them to subscribe towards the capital to enable them to open a smalt shop. Frequently the subscriptions were made In pennies and twopences, sometimes it was shillings, very, very rarely, was It In pounds.

After weeks of propaganda and canvassing and collecting and discussing, a small shop was opened. Usually, it was In a back street away from busy thoroughfares where rent was low and risks of losing money were less. Sometimes the first shop failed, but more often than not It succeeded.

WITH those simple beginnings they laid the foundation of a democratic business, a business which thev did not keep to themselves but which they tnrew open to everyone who cared to join.

The early pioneers were full of enthusiasm and faith (faith was the more Important quality, for the difficulties were sufficient to kill enthusiasm) that they gave generously and willingly not only their money but also their time to make the/r shop a success. When their usual employment was finished, they helped in the shop without pay (they would have scorned payment, for was not the shop their own ?) they painted the shop, built the fixtures, prepared the goods for sale, while their women folk delivered parcels to members who could not fetch them.

OUR own Society's beginnings were no exception to this general rule, and many of our oldest members still have happy memories of the days, thirty-one years ago. when they helped to start the Burslem Co-operative Society.

There were two hundred members, who had each subscribed 4s., and had promised to make this 4s. into a £1 as soon as convenient. They appointed their provisional committee to inspect premises and recommend a suitable shop. They opened their shop on 22nd February, 1901, ac 8 Newcastle Street, Burslem.

We could quote a lot of figures to Illustrate how the Society has grown since those days, but we refrain, except for mentioning this one fact. In the first balance sheet Issued by the Society In 1901, the amount of share capital plus Interest was £175. In the balance sheet issued for the year ending March, 1932, the amount of share, loan, and penny bank capital was £1,209.533.

MUCH of this money represents accumulated savings made by working men and women in the Potteries from dividends paid to them by the Society. They themselves have created the Society, and they still control it.

It seems a long way from the humble beginnings of thirty-one years ago to the proud position the Society now occupies—from one shop to 112 shops, and from 200 members to 50,000. But these are the facts (facts that create a romantic story) that working men have woven into the history of the Potteries.

Every year, more particularly since the war. the Society has erected new shops, has enlarged its business operations and Its membership. It stands to-day as the custodian of the largest business concern in North Staffordshire, demonstrating not only the sound common sense of co-operative principles, but also the ability of democracy to arrange its own affairs.

THE new emporium is the culmination of a policy the Society has had for a number of years - to build a large emporium In each of the principal towns of the Potteries. Not many persons 30 years ago thought that such a ullding would be needed to supply co-operative members with goods. Only in the wildest Imagination of dreamers was such a thing thought possible. But the emporium Is here, sound and solid, justifying the dreamers. There are still dreamers amongst us. The Burslem Emporium is not the end of the book of progress. It but closes a chapter, and before the ink of this chapter is dry, the paragraphs of the chapter which is to follow are already being prepared.