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The Co-op Story II



What a host of names these times recall. Waterlands, Mayfield, Merry and Cuningham, Craigenhill, Wilton, Orchard, Kingshaw, Howlands and Slaghill come crowding to the mind.

Carluke had been but a few years before raised to the dignity of having a head post office, and the change from candle and oil lamp to gas had not long previously been made. Water, as yet, was obtained from open wells. The two-storey building was supplanting the "wee thackit but and ben", but a fair number of these were still to be seen in the High Street. The fine City of Glasgow Bank buildings at the Cross were but a few years old.
Carluke possessed a number of friendly societies, amongst which were the Oddfellows (later Carluke Friendly Society), the Gardeners, and the Carluke Workingmens Society. A half-yearly report of the meeting of the Oddfellows Society, published about this time, shows the income for the six months to be nearly £182, an expenditure of £57, and an accumulated capital of about £700. We mention the Oddfellows Society specially, because we are informed that it was in this Society the Carluke Cooperative movement had its birth. The number of members in the Society in 1860 was about l50, seventeen being reported as receiving the sick benefit.

Ten years later the accumulated capital of the Society had risen to nearly £1600. The early shop closing movement had not yet reached Carluke. ln a letter written about this time, a correspondent says: "l am astonished at our quiet little village being so far behind the times. ls there so much business being done here that it cannot be gone through with daylight in the now long days of June? Yet after the sun has bidden us adieu for the night, some of our respectable merchants may be seen plodding behind their counters."




The reply to this by another writer is nothing if not characteristic: " The causes of these long hours are the money-making, money-seeking spirit of our shop-keepers, and the dilatory habits of purchasers. We believe the same spirit actuates both the seller and the buyer. The same love I of money which makes the dealer so fond to sell manifests itself in the purchasers reluctance to part with it. The one retains his money to the latest hour, and the other holds on to the last minute to get it.


One more pen picture of Carluke about the year 1860 throws a vivid light  upon two forces which are now beginning to face each other-—the forces of Re-action, which find their expression in Individualism, and the forces of Progress, which have Cooperation as their guiding principle. A writer in the Hamilton Advertiser  about this time raises the question of the necessity of a community-owned system of water supply, which is cooperation, as against the system of private wells then in force, which was individualism; a public drainage system, a street lighting scheme, and a public clock, all of which embody cooperation. The mind of those who opposed cooperation in the procuring of these improvements was well interpreted by the reply of one who spoke for them: " He is at sea as to the wants of this village. No such things are required as public lamps, a public clock, a common sewer, and a supply of pure water. The streets in the village may be more properly called roads, with the exception of one street, which is very well lighted from the shop windows. With regard to a public clock there is no steeple to place it in."


There is only one shop which requires a common sewer. As to pure water we have abundance of that, if people could be persuaded to dig wells. Never were the great principles of Cooperation and those of ndividualism so strongly contrasted with each other as in the last sentence. So we see that in the year 1860, a great national—shall we call it a great human movement-—was being felt in Carluke. The waters of individualism were beginning to recede and the mountains of cooperation were beginning to appear.




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