Clearing away the undergrowth: rediscovering coop history

I’m feeling a natural sense of relief here as the manuscript for my forthcoming book All Our Own Work heads off to the publishers, Merlin Press. The book tells the history of one of Britain’s earliest and, at that time, best known productive cooperatives (what we today would call workers’ cooperatives).  This was the Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Co-operative society, which operated successfully from 1870 to 1918.

My account explores how the workers who were motivated to run their own textile mill coped with the challenges of managing the business, among these the task of finding the necessary capital. There was also the vexed question of deciding how to share the profits: how much should go to the workers, how much to the investors, and how much to the cooperative societies who were the customers.


I’m naturally keen to get the story of this cooperative as widely known as possible, so it’s good to see a related news piece up on the Co-operative News website. The story describes how the graves of Joseph Greenwood and Jesse Gray, two of the leading figures in the Fustian society’s history, have recently been cleared of undergrowth and made much more accessible to visitors.  The Co-op News can be found here.


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