How, in 150 years, we got to where we are today: new coop history published

An interesting arrival in today’s post:  an advance copy of Building Co-operation, a major new history of the Co-operative Group and its predecessor body the Co-operative Wholesale Society,  written by three academic historians John F Wilson, Anthony Webster and Rachael Vorberg-Rugh.  The book’s subtitle makes it clear that this is a “business history”, or in other words a survey of the development of the cooperative business model over the 150 years (and, yes, it is exactly 150 years) since the “North of England Co-operative Wholesale Industrial and Provident Society” was first set up by local coop societies as a collective way to supply their stores with the goods they needed.


As the authors themselves put it, “the British co-operative model remains a complicated one, with many overlapping structures”.  At first glance, this book should help put today’s coop scene into its historical context and sort out any confusion.  I’ll offer a proper review in due course.

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