Ref NoMS311
TitleCity of Perth Co-operative Society
HistoryIn 1866, the Perth Cloth Society was set up by a group of weavers in Thimblerow, who each contributed to the total capital fund of £5. With this capital, they purchased cloth at cost price and sold it to members for cash. The profit was the "co-operative result". At the end of a year, the capital had increased to £60 and a shop was rented at 50 South Methven Street, which was run by volunteer members and opened every evening, selling cloth, tea and tobacco. The Perth Cloth Society merged with the newly formed City of Perth Co-operative Society in 1871, and joined the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society. The shop was now open all day, with one sales employee, and the profit from the first quarter allowed a dividend to be paid to members. In 1872, the Society began producing bread from its bakehouse in Parliament Close, which became so successful it offered a delivery service, leading to the establishment of a Transport Department, responsible for drivers, stabling, horses, and vans. The first branch shop opened in 1875 in Hospital Street (later moved to County Place then York Place) and other branches followed in South Street (later George Street), the corner of North Methven Street and Atholl Street, Bridgend, Scone, Craigie, Dovecotland, Stanley and Bankfoot. Total sales for the Society's first 21 years were £1.5m, and its success prompted the formation of the Perth Merchants Association to counteract the expansion and influence of the Co-op. Whenever possible, premises were purchased by the Society, and property development became an important strand to the business. The Old Militia Barracks in Scott Street, Victoria Street and James Street were transformed into the tenement property "Unity Place", and on a large feu (now the Feus Road area), the Society built and sold houses and, in 1904, constructed its sausage factory. Other ventures by the Society included a Penny Bank (saving for the Society's annual children's outings), a Clothing Club and a Yearly Benefit Society (a savings scheme with sickness benefit). By 1930, the Society had specialist departments for grocery, bakery & confectionery, fish & poultry, butchery, dairy, drapery, tailoring, furnishing, boot & shoe, coal, transport, works and property. and, after the Second World War, an electrical, radio & tv department. It also offered its halls for rent for private functions. By the time of its Diamond Jubilee in 1931, total sales for the sixty years totalled £13.4m. Education was seen as a key function of the Society, with an Education Committee set up in 1878, providing classes for members' children, and later for employees, including lectures, singing and elocution lessons, and, producing the Pioneer journal.
DescriptionSubscription book, Scottish Horse and Motormen's Association, Co-operative Transport Dept, 1961-1978; Income and expenditure book, National Co-operative Traffic Manager's Association, Scottish Section, 1960-1982; Minute books of City of Perth Co-operative Society and minute book of Perth Co-operative Parliamentary Representation Committee, 1897-1928; Copies of "Pioneer" magazine, 1921-1937; Diamond Jubilee Souvenir booklet of City of Perth Co-operative Society, 1871-1931; "The City of Perth and its Co-operative Society" by J Willocks, Perth, 1892; Receipts, arrestments, notes, letters, loan books, papers concerning fraud case, 1946-1958; papers and books relating to Society rules, 1950-1958.
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Access conditionsMS311/4 closed under Data Protection Act, 1998
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