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The Co-op Story

 This document was scanned off an original booklet from 1932.  Some dates have been edited so that the reader sees 150 years ago, where the original document had stated seventy years ago. The same booklet was reprinted again in 1962.

THE INDUSTRIAL CONDITIONS OF 1862.

This little work does not claim to give a history of cooperation, for the cooperative movement runs through all history. Neither does it pretend to be an exposition of the principles of cooperation, for these - Brotherhood, Equity and Economy - are as old as humanity. Writing 100 years ago, and thirty years after the cooperative movement had taken definite shape in Carluke, George Jacob Holyoake referred to cooperation in this country as so many springs making fertile an arid land.

Mr Holyoake later went on to open the upstairs Holyoake tearooms in the High Street in Carluke.

The first High St. Co-op building

The object of this little work is to trace the course of one of these springs from its source to the broad dimensions it has reached at the present day—in a word, the now 150 years history of Carluke Cooperative Society. The simile is striking and the story is interesting. Great movements are like great rivers; commencing as a mere trickle, they gather volume as they fiow; here pushing their way past obstacles, there gliding smoothly, but ever making their way to the greater movement beyond.

lt is highly questionable if the nineteen men who, 150 years ago, combined to form the Carluke Cooperative Society fully realised the great potency of the movement in which they were taking part, although, as we shall see, they were not altogether blind to its immense possibilities. It is a maxim of history that we are often led by humble means to great ends. Far reaching movements can never be understood apart from their times. To see them in their proper perspective and proportion we must see them against the background of the period in which they originated.

Gala Day
tin cups
1912

 

 The Carluke Cooperative Society 150 years ago was a product of its times, a definite reaction to a certain set of conditions. That these conditions had a national as well as a local aspect is borne out by the fact that many societies were formed in 1862, among these being Lanark Provident Cooperative Society. Let us try to get some conception of the industrial conditions of Carluke round about the year 1862. The first feature is that it had passed from a purely agricultural community to a condition in which manufacture and mining played a prominent part. Castlehill Ironworks had been in operation for thirty years and had reached the zenith of their production. The mineral wealth of the district was being developed, and opencast workings, while still in existence, were giving place to the deeper seated workings. These were the times when the air was vibrant with the throbbing of steam engines, the pick was busy in a score of mines, the hammer in the workshop, and the toil ceased not with the night.

 Continued...

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