Tameside's First Cooperative Society

The modest roots of the Mossley Industrial Co-operative Society

Letterhead  of the Mossley Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. from the Mossley Heritage Centre collections.


New artwork by Signs by Umberto using text from Samual Laycock‘s poem ‘Welcome Bonny Brid’ and directly inspired by the Mossley Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd letterhead from the Mossley Heritage Centre collections (see above).


This artwork is part of a new exhibition at Mossley Train Station. Eleven intricate sets of panels are fitted along the platform and in the station waiting room, drawing inspiration from the vintage signage and advertising typography of Mossley’s local retailers through the ages, including long-gone butchers shops, photography studios and drapers.

Mossley Co-op formed in modest surroundings, from conversations in people’s houses and a pub. It opened it’s first shop in 1856 and became Tameside’s first Co-operative Society. If you look out when you visit you’ll see a Blue Plaque on the current supermarket commemorating the special historical event.

A Co-op is deomcratically owned by it’s members and is organised for mutual benefit to meet economic, cultural and social needs. Like other Co-operatives, the Mossley Co-op formed in response to a situation of low wages and high food prices with the aim of suppling goods at affordable prices and improving the lives of the community. The founding members took shares of £1 each entitling them one share and one vote on the structure of the organisation.

Use the botton below to open the what3words mapping site and find the Blue Plaque on the Co-op today…

October 1856

A meeting is held by a small group of men at the Shears Inn on Carrhill Road where they decided to establish a Cooperative Society for Mossley under the Rochdale Rules. The business began serving goods from an old room on Chapel Street.

December 1856

Mossley Industrial Cooperative Society open their first shop on Lancaster Street with the purcase of 3 bags of frost flour and 1 ham from Byroms’s.

June 1859

Plans are made to build new shops on Arundel Street including a gorcers, shoe shop, butchers and drapers.

September 1860

A new Cooperative store opens on Mossley Brow.

“I could have given you many interesting items respetcting this movement but you have the beginning and I think everyone will agree that from this small beginning this society has risen to a great prosperous buisness and the people have risen and prospered with it. The pernicious credit system is almost abolished in the town and most people have some small sum invested in the business.”

Quote from c1860

It’s been over 165 years now that Mossley’s Co-op has stood in pretty much the same spot on Arundel Street! So it’s no wonder our little supermarket is so important to the people of Mossley and such a BIG part of our town! But the supermarket we shop in today is relatively new. Until 1979 the Co-op remained a series or smaller shops in separate neighbouring buildings.


Newspaper advertisement from 12th October 1979

September 1979

A brand new £400,000 superstore is opened on Arundel Street and the old Co-op buildings are demolished.

April 2002

The supermarket is destroyed in a huge blaze caused by an electrical fault, leaving the people of Mossley in shock with hundreds of residents watching on as the town’s only supermarket was consumed by flames.

November 2002

Rising from the ashes, a brand new purpose built superstore is opened on the site, demonstrating what Store Manager Chris Armstrong called the Co-op’s “commitment and determination to be the community retailer.”


The face of the Co-op has changed over the years and how we shop and the things we buy are a bit differnent from the days of selling bags of flour from the front room of a house. But some things have stayed very much the same. The Co-op is still owned democratically by it’s members and membership still costs £1, entitling you to one vote to deceide the direction and operation of the business. And for every £1 you spend on Co-op products and services, 2p is given to local charites, who are again decided by you each year through a vote! So by shopping at the Co-op you’re making a difference to the local community, based on the very same principles that founded the Mossley shop way back in 1859. And not just that, the Co-op supports the Fairtrade agenda too, so you’re also making a positive impact on the global food chain by getting your groceries in our ‘one-stop shop’.

In keeping with these traditional vaues of equality and solidarity, Mossley is proud to be a FAIRTRADE TOWN. A status it has held for over 10 years, which is an amaing success! You might have noticed the signs on the boundry markers as you enter Mossley? This is all thanks to the dedication and hard work of a small group of people from our community who have fought tirelessly over the years to raise awareness of the Fairtrade movement and promote the values and products that ensure the farmers and workers producing our food have safer working conditions and fairer pay, while investing in climate friendly farming techniques and developing women in leadership.


YOUR FAIRTRADE TOWN NEEDS YOU! Join the Mossley Fairtrade Steering Group and become a part of the Fairtrade network. Together they work in schools, business, retail and catering outlets, community and faith groups. They also want to impove Fairtrade promotion using social media. Can you help? To join click the link to the right or phone 01457 837485 for more details.


Our research on the history of Mossley Industrail Co-operative has come chiefly from the ‘Mossley Shops Through The Years’ book by Alison Wild and Shirley Howard published by Mossley Civic Society. Copies are £9 and available at Mossley Heritage Centre.

Newspaper advertisement from 1st February 1957



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