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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

The Gateshead Co-operative Society

The Gateshead Co-operative Society.

In 1859 a few railway men-proposed to open a co-operative store at Gateshead. The idea was ridiculed. A small page 35 commencement was made in 1861, and the business for the first year was so paltry that one of the directors left the store in disgust, and never took further interest in the society. This man was typical of the men who fail. The men who refuse to accept defeat, when convinced of the righteousness of their cause, and that the exercise of patience and common-sense and loyalty to principle only are necessary to command success, were represented by the remaining directors, who stuck faithfully to their work, making up parcels and delivering goods in a hand-barrow up to late hours on Saturday nights, and never losing an opportunity to reason with their fellow-members so as to preserve their loyalty to the store, and induce others to join it. It took years of hard, anxious work, but success eventually crowned their efforts.

In 1899 the society had 11,400 members, with a trade capital of £114,000, or an average of £10 per member. It had nine branch stores, the central store being worth £20,000. The year's business turnover was £374,000, and £58,000 was available for distribution amongst members as dividends upon their purchases. The society had £50,000 invested in members' dwellings.

The satisfactory progress made by this society in two years' time may be seen by comparing the above figures with the returns for 1901. In that time the membership increased to 12,284, the capital to £127,914—more than maintaining the average share per member—and the year's business turnover to £424,888. The profit for the year was £69,256, and the amount invested in members' houses had increased to £66,434.