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The Co-op Story III

Bakery Van


To the industrial development came its logical sequence, the construction of a railway. ln these days the navvy was considered fair game by the commercial classes. He was  credited with always having a surplus of money and a none too critical attitude regarding the quality of goods he purchased, or rather the goods that were sold to him. This could be easily understood, as the navvies were nearly always single men who lived in huts and did their own cooking and made their own purchases.

Quantity rather than quality was their first consideration. The abolition of the Truck system had removed a formidable competitor of the private dealer. The following anecdote flings much light on the conditions of the time. A Carluke lady complained to a local shopkeeper of the quality of the oatmeal she had received. " lt’s that lassie ! " was the explanation; " shes gane and taen the meal oot o the navvies barrel." Carluke thus stood ready for the advent of cooperation, and the manner of its coming we shall now relate.

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HOW COOPERATION CAME TO CARLUKE.

Some time previous to the year 1862 the minds of the working class community of Carluke were agitated by two questions: the price of bread and the price of gas. The price of gas had no bearing on the rise of cooperation in Carluke, but the price of bread had. The four-pound loaf which was selling in adjacent towns for 5½d, cost 7d in Carluke. In the Hamilton Advertiser of 6th August, 1859, the  following appeared: The price of bread here, which a few weeks ago was 7d per 4lb. loaf, lately rose to 8d, but on Thursday it fell to 7½d.
No doubt the good weather had something to do with this, but some attribute it to a dullness of sale in the bakers’ market, and an increased consumption of home-made bread.

lf such is the case all success to the scheme. Let the housewives only persevere, and the scone and bannocks are sure to conquer. lt does not require great intellectual acumen to see in this paragraph the herald of the advent of cooperation.
The people of Carluke were preparing to do for themselves what they had long paid other people to do for them. At the beginning of all movements, no matter how great, there is always a good deal of obscurity. This is due to two causes: long anterior to the movement taking definite shape no written record is kept; the movement has to be well on its way as a going concern before it attracts public notice. Much which is stated to have taken place in the earlier period will be found to be largely conjectural, but a closer examination will show that much of the unwritten history is complementary and not contradictory. The early history of Carluke Cooperative Society is no exception to the rule.

Let us glance for a brief space at what may be called the unofficial history of Carluke Cooperative Society, related by those who were in touch with the pioneers of the movement. The discussion of social questions whenever men met was more common then than it is to-day. The man of 150 years ago was not content to take his opinions from the politicians and the press. There was not a small village but had some common meeting place where the questions of the day were keenly discussed. Such a meeting place was provided in Carluke by the Oddfellows’ Society. In 1862 this Society was the leading body in Carluke. it ranked among its members men of independent spirit, intellectual capacity, and initiative. To this class belonged the three brothers, James Good, John Good and William Good. Their father had been at Craighead, but he came to Carluke and broke in a piece of waste land at the edge of the moor.

Continued..

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