Divi Day - the story of Morley Co-op

In 2009, local lady Anne Jones made a very thorough and interesting study on the Morley Co-op which was published by Delta Print as 'Divi Day'. The title  reflected the yearly time when Morley people could collect a dividend from all the goods that they had bought at the Co-op during the previous year.
The Co-op provided stable and welcome employment for many people and Anne tells of their lives inside and outside of the organisation. On the cover, for example, we see employees at the New Park Street store and a number of these stayed with the Co-op  all their working lives.

The local Co-op started in 1866 when a group, encouraged by the success of such organisations across the North of England, formed it with their own money and work. They were quickly rewarded for their efforts and by 1869 they were able to open a large store in the centre of town at the corner of Commercial Street and Albion Street. Nowadays the building is a solicitor's office but the Co-op sign can still be seen, carved into the stonework at the top corner.  

The Morley Co-op was so successful during the period 1870 to 1960 that branch offices opened all over the area from East Ardsley to Drighlington, all working under the banner of MICSL (Morley Industrial Society Limited).
Although the present-day Co-op has lost its dominance here, Anne shows that the old buildings still survive and are well-used, testifying to good and hardy design.
Across is one such in Central Morley which was opened as a large general store at the corner of Albion Street and Queen Street in 1899. It is shown as it was in 1920 when it offered a wide range of goods other than food. Many of the smaller branches have been taken over by small business people such as hair-dressers and dress shops.

Co-op folks were very active in most of the town's affairs whether it be on the council, on the magistrates' bench or in a more socially-relaxed sphere. Here we note, in particular, the arrival of Santa Claus (usually played by the President, Mr Sam Priestley) at the Central Stores. This was a special event as he was usually brought into Morley by a different and splendid form of transport each year.

Anne's book has proved to be very popular and remains in demand. She has kindly agreed that future sales of the book will be donated to the Society funds and you can be sure that we will put this to good use. You can buy the book for £5.00 by contacting us through the website.

© Morley Local History Society, 2018
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