Co-operative Wholesale Society (Coop)

Amble CoopHow many of you remember being sent to the “The Store” to pick up some shopping for your mother in your childhood? The Store was the term we used for the local CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) shop. They had grocery shops, hardware shops and more.

The Coop was founded by consumers who clubbed together to enable bulk purchasing. This was a way to avoid the extortionate pricing in company owned shops, e.g. those run by mine owners where workers only had one option for where to buy their produce. By paying a minimal sum to become a Coop member, people had the opportunity to buy their groceries at an acceptable price and also earn a dividend (which we referred to as the divi). The amount paid for purchases was recorded on a “cheque” after giving your 4-digit cheque number and the dividend was paid out annually. As children we all had our mother’s cheque number firmly implanted in our minds and rolled it out regularly with every loaf of bread, quarter of bacon or bag of flour we were sent to purchase.

The photograph shows Amble Harbour Coop on the left (beside where the women are walking). This Coop was managed by my Dad’s cousin, Ralphy Tweddle, until his retirement in the 1980s. Until reminded today by Ralphy’s son Les, I had forgotten that this was one of the first shops in Northumberland to introduce a self-service system, back in 1964. Just imagine the shock to the average Amble housewife of being able to pick her own goods directly off the shelf rather than stand in a queue and ask for each individual item with her neighbours listening to what she was buying. The Coop management were clearly men of vision, ahead of their time, as they were prepared to invest in training their staff in the new system and take the risk of losing customers with such a challenging innovation as self-service.

Ralphy actually gave me a kick-start on my family history research as he told me the names of the dozen Cracketts in the banner photo on my blog. One of the girls is his mother Dorothy Ann and the couple in the middle were his grandparents, Leonard Cracket and Mary Parkinson.

3 new topics on DNA

DNA plus paper menuI have added three new topics to my page DNA plus paper today:

  • Deciding which DNA tests to take
  • AncestryDNA circles
  • Alias Smith and Jones?

You can access them from the link in this post or from the menu line of Digging up the Ancients.

Just as an aside, the lady in the picture directly above the menu item is my great aunt, Dorothy Ann Crackett, (1888-1974). She was born in Choppington, Northumberland. She married Ralph Tweddle in 1909 and they lived most of their married life in Radcliffe, Northumberland. (Just realised that if you are looking at this on a tablet, then the menu item is under a different lady. Sorry folks, I will have to look at how to optimise for reading on other devices.)

53 years ago today

Crackett – Leonard and Mary Jane – Amble West Cemetery

Mary Jane Tweddle died 53 years ago today aged 71. Mary Jane, known in the family as Polly, married my great uncle Leonard Crackett. The picture shows their grave in Amble West Cemetery.

Uncle Len and Aunt Polly lived at Chevington Drift and had one son, Ralph Crackett. It is also interesting that Polly’s brother Ralph married Len’s sister Dorothy Ann Crackett, my great aunt.

Razed rows in Radcliffe

Next on my list of Places is the pit village of Radcliffe in Northumberland. The rows of colliery housing were razed to the ground in 1971 when the opencast moved in. What was once a tight knit community of about 700 souls is now just a handful of houses. My Webb line lived in Radcliffe for many years and it has also been home to relatives named Crackett, Tweddle, Smith, Gair and Smailes.