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By Frank Allen

Saturday the 29th of January 1910 was a great day for the co-operators at Clown. They were celebrating a unique event the 21st year of The society's existence.A history of the society makes truly remarkable reading. Previosly to 1889, the Worksop co- Operative no little inconvenience,supplied goods to a few members in Clown. Early in 1889, adeputation from the Worksop Society suggested that a separate society might be Opend at clown and chiefly through the instrumentality of Mr Barnet Kenyon, a meeting was called with the object of acting upon the suggestion. The shireoakes Colliery Company and the then (Mr. John Jones Took great interest in the movement, and placed the carpenters shop At the Southgate Colliery at the disposal of the members. The first record of any meeting is on January 16th 1889 It was then decided to open a store Mr B. Kenyon Was appointed president Mr G. Barton the secretary and Mr J. Stone treasurer. The movement was viewed with Suspicion in certain quarters and insidious and persistent Opposition had to be combated. But the believers in the Principles of co-operation were not to be deterred by opposition And on January 22nd 1889 again met to lay the foundation of The present successful society we see today. Not a man was present but what had come prepared to see the Movement started. Eighteen members were enrolled that night and 41 10s in share capital was handed over the carpenter's bench. Those present were Messrs B Kenyon, G. Barton, J. Stone, C. Johnson, M. Quin, H. Davenport, C. Seston, T. pearson, T, Sparold, J. Nelmes, G. Windle, T Draper, A. Brown, S. B. Browne, T. Labert, J. Milner, J. Seston, and T. Scarborough.
A few days after this meeting the members secured the shop On the green now occupied by Thos. Sturgess butcher and This was opened with a small stock on February 2nd 1889. The pioneers were not afraid to manage their own business And opened the shop for two or three nights per week from 5pm. Those unapprenticed attempts behind the counter were not Without their humorous appeals. To see the worthy sons of toil With sleeves up and aprons on occasioned mirth to many a Customer. Yet there was quiet dignity and cleanliness in their Methods and the business soon grew and on April 30th Mr. Leonard widdoson of Marsden Moor was permanently Appointed salesman. At that early period the then co-operators Recognized the claim of the employ'e to consideration by Closing the shop at one o clock on Wednesdays. The first weeks takings amounted to 8 11s 1d while the Quarter's takings were 159 15s 10d at the end of the Quarter no time was lost in taking stock and tabulating the accounts. Mr. A. Eason manager of the Southgate Colliery rendered invaluable Service at this stage and along with Mr. T. Scarborough audited the accounts. Great anxiety was manifested by the members at the result of their first Attempt. A general meeting to hear the result was held on April 23rd And the delight and enthusiasm of the members was unbounded When it was found that a profit of 23 6s 5d had been made Allowing a dividend of 3s 3d in the pound. This remarkable Success became the chief topic in the parish and the society rapidly Made headway members and share capital alike increasing. The end of December 1889 witnessed a membership of 79 With a share capital of 258 17s 11d. The amount received for Goods sold in this period amounted to 1,506 4s 5d while there Had been paid in dividend and interest 155 5s 3d. The society very early outgrew its premises and at a general Meeting held on June 2nd 1890 the committee were authorized To buy 55yards of land from Mr. Garside situated between The Nags Head and the Free Church at that time and the Foundation stone of the first store owned by the members Was laid by Mr. B. Kenyon and opened in October 1892 This store occupied the site of the Great Central Railway Company's booking hall. When L D & E C Co were granted Permission to open their line this new store was one of the Many buildings which had to give place to the railway Land and a temporary wooden building were found the Society by the company on the present site of the society's Grocery premises and on December 15th 1894 the Railway Company recompensed the society by putting up part of the Premises. (Pictured below) The adjoining land was secured In October 1894 as a safeguard against future requirements The wisdom of this provision was proved a few years later When the augmented trade necessitated the erection of the Handsome block of buildings. (Pictured below) The society felt very keenly the great miners strike of 1893.
Struggle Between Labour And Capital
No keener struggle between capital and labour was ever Known in this country and no society with like means Rendered more valuable assistance. The society distributed in Foodstuffs gifts amounting to 2 10s per week the ready way In which all claims on the society were met provided an Object lesson to the district whilst the special consideration In the supply of goods to members revealed the strength of the Society this is by no means the only occasion upon which The society has been able to assist those in distress The sum of 5 was voted to the Thornhill Colliery disaster In 1893 whilst among other bequests was the gift to the South Wales Distress Fund in 1897. A pleasing feature of the consideration of the society for The aged was the tea given to all the poor of clown in February 1897 and to all the pensioners in January 1909 & 1910 The society's well appointed hall and committee rooms have Conferred a boom to the parish at large inasmuch as they Have supplied a want acutely felt. One of the greatest blessings Which the society has offered its members has been the Advancement of capital for the purpose of enabling them to Build or buy their own houses. It was in 1897 when the society Adopted the house building scheme. The purchase of land In Church Lane by the society in 1895 and stone tops in 1879 gave the members the opportunity to obtain cheaply land sufficient to enable them to build a convenient homestead. The low rate of interest, and the easy nature of the scheme have attracted many borrowers, the society having lent on mortgage nearly 12,000. The society's speculations in land have been the cause of over 200 houses being erected, adding to the rateable value by 1,700. One per cent of the society's profits is devoted to educational purposes, lectures, concerts, classes, &c, which have proved very beneficial. Finding employment for twenty-five people, the society's wage bill exceeds 1,360 yearly. The society is also a large ratepayer
The loss, by death of Mr. Geo. Barton, in 1895, secretary for seven years, was a great blow. Painstaking and earnest, his advice was greatly missed. Mr. H. Mallender was a most able and careful successor, and held the position until 1905, when he resigned. Mr. B A. Sykes, who had been manager since March, 1891, was also given the secretarial duties and added to his great success as manager by discharging with high efficiency these added duties, until the growth of the society necessitated him devoting his whole time to the duties of manager. This history would not be complete without special reference to the conspicuous ability displayed by the president of the society until 1906 (Mr. B Kenyon) in his grasp of the details and intricacies of the early difficulties of the society, His eloquence and influence did much to break down the opposition to the society in its infant state, whilst his staunch advocacy of the movement brought the society rapidly to the front. Mr. J. Stone, treasurer for twenty years, was a bulwark of strength to the society. Strictly honourable, and displaying great method in his book keeping, he had the esteem and confidence of every member. The society's present position has been built up by wise and careful management. The policy of the present committee, under able and shrewd president (Mr. H Davenport), is one of progression, yet tempered with discretion and prudence. Branches of the society have recently been opened at Barlborough and Creswell, and both are in flourishing condition. The membership of the society at the end of last quarter was 1.064. The share capital, 11,443, averaging 10 15s 1d per member. The sales were 9,280. The reserve fund amounted to 692, and in addition to this, buildings, &c, had been depreciated over 1,900. Divided paid last quarter was 2s. 3d in the pound. Since the society was established the cash received for goods had amounted to over 253,000, and the amount paid to members in dividend and interest has exceeded 31,000. The present committee are Messrs. H. Davenport (President), A, Calow, (Secretary), J. Seston, F. Brown, G. Freeman, J.J. Slater, I. Rushforth, D. Harding, S. Woodhead, J. Robinson, C. Stock, W. Rimmington.
The festivities in connection with the coming of age included tea and concert at Barlborough on Saturday January 29th when Mr. L. Mosley's Sheffield party furnished an attractive musical programme, and an able address was delivered by Mr. G. Woodhouse (C.W.S. Director), Mr. Rushforth presiding. At Creswell, on Saturday, February 5th, a tea and concert were also well patronized; Messrs. Farnsworth and Dyson supplying a much appreciated concert party. Mr. G. Wheelhouse (Barnsley) delivered a forceful address, and Mr. D. Harding. J.P. presided. These festivities were brought to a close on Saturday last by a tea and concert at Clown, over 400 partaking of tea. Latimer's Costume Party submitted a musical programme which captivated the audience. The first president of the society (Mr.B. Kenyon) delivered an interesting and much appreciated address, and traced the history of the society from its inception. Mr. W. Rimmington made an able chairman. The proceedings were somewhat saddened by the absence of the president of the society, whose bereavement by the loss of his wife was feelingly referred to by Mr. C. Stock, a vote of condolence was unanimously agreed to. A feature of the evening was the presentation by Mr. Kenyon, on behalf of the society, of a handsome timepiece, to the present manager, Mr. B.A. Sykes. Mr. Kenyon referred in eulogistic terms to the long and faithful services of Mr. Sykes, and said the position of the society today was due in no small measure to his managerial tact and ability. The membership of the society when Mr. Sykes was appointed was 140, and the sales 55 per week. Rapid strides have been made since then, the takings now averaging 700 per week. Mr. Sykes feelingly thanked the members for the presentation. Votes of thanks were accorded on the motion of Mr. G. Freeman, seconded by Mr. J.J. Slater. Each member was presented with a plaque with a photograph of the central premises engraved on it as a souvenir of the occasion. Mr. H. Davenport (President of the Clown Society) desires to thank all friends for the kind expressions of sympathy extended to him and family on the death of his wife.
We would like to thank the Co-op for 116 years of service to the village
2nd February 1889 - 14th August 2005
Extracts taken from Co-operative news February 1910 ©