Chelmsford TUC


History of Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society

The Society was formed in 1867 by iron foundry workers employed by Coleman and Morton in their factory in London Road. In 1969 the Braintree Co-operative Society, which was formed in 1864 by silk weavers, joined Chelmsford Star.

Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society Since the Trades Council was formed in 1899 several of its delegates have served on the Society’s Board of Management. One of these, H.P. Baker, (Operative Carpenters’ and Joiners’ Union) was Secretary of the Trades Council in 1903 and was a Director of the Society from 1903-1939. George Briggs, (Railway Clerks’ Association) was Secretary of the Trades Council from 1937-1939 and a Director from 1931-1952. In 1945, A.E. Hodge, a former miners’ union official, member of the Co-operative Party and Chelmsford Star’s Board of Management from 1939-1955, was elected as the first Labour Mayor of Chelmsford.

In more recent years, Bill Wright, who was the Trades Council Chairman from 1988-1990 and its President from 1999-2001, served on the Board of Directors. The current Trades Council Secretary, Malcolm Wallace, has been a Director of the Society since 1997.

"Chelmford Star - A Co-operative History" was published in 1999 by the Society’s Education Committee. Its 148 pages, which includes thirty-three photos, are packed with information on the development of the Society and many other Essex co-operatives. Copies can be obtained from the Chief Executive, Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society 220, Moulsham Street, Chelmsford CM2 7HH (£5.50 including postage).

The following are some of the key dates of establishment within the Society and the co-operative mocvement.

1831 The first Owenite Co-operative Congress.

1844 Rochdale Equitable Pioneers’ Co-operative Society.

1846 Factory workers at Halstead form a co-operative to sell cheese, coffee and tobacco but it did not survive.

1847 Chelmsford Co-operative Coal Society.

1852 First Industrial and Provident Societies Act.

1860 Halstead Co-operative Society.

1861 Stratford Co-operative and Industrial Society. Colchester and East Essex Co-operative Society.

1862 Coggeshall and North Essex Co-operative Society.

1863 Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd.

1864 Braintree and West Essex Co-operative Society.

1866 Grays Co-operative Society.

1867 Chelmsford Star Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd opens its first shop in Tindal Street; a few months later the Society is so successful that it moves to 48 High Street. Co-operative Insurance Society.

1868 Chelmsford Star now has a membership of 275 and annual sales of £4,316.

1869 First Co-operative Congress.

1871 Co-operative News.

1872 CWS establishes a Loan and Deposit Department: it becomes a bank in 1876.

1873 Maldon and Heybridge Co-operative Society.

1875 Leytonstone Road Co-operative Society. Harwich and Dovercourt Co-operative Society.

1876 Terling Co-operative Society.

1881 Thomas Hughes QC opens Chelmsford Star’s Central Store in Moulsham Street.

1883 Co-operative Permanent Building Society. Beckton Co-operative Society. Co-operative Women’s Guild.

1886 Chelmsford Star milk sales begin.

1887 Witham Co-operative Society.

1890 Southend Co-operative Society.

1893 Sun Co-operative Society (a tea room) established in Moulsham Street. Braintree Co-operative Women’s Guild.

1894 Epping Co-operative Society.

1895 Chelmsford Star opens its first branch store in Wells Street. Brentwood Co-operative Society. International Co-operative Alliance.

1896 Chelmsford Star opens an agency on behalf of the Co-operative Permanent Building Society.

1899 Chelmsford Star opens a bakery in Railway Street.

1900 1,439 registered co-operatives exist in the UK. Chelmsford Star now has a membership of 2,001 and annual sales of £40,414.

1901 Chelmsford Star appointed as an agent for the Co-operative Insurance Society.

1902 The Society’s Central store in Moulsham Street is extended and opened by the Countess of Warwick.

Saffron Walden Co-operative Society.

1903 A branch of the National Amalgamated Union of Shop Assistants, Warehousemen and Clerks is formed in Chelmsford. Laindon Co-operative Society. Clacton on Sea Co-operative Society.

1904 A men’s outfitting department is established by Chelmsford Star.

1906 Chelmsford Women’s Co-operative Guild.

1910 Chelmsford Co-operative Men’s Guild.

1911 A branch of the Amalgamated Union of Co-operative Employees is established in Chelmsford.

1912 Chelmsford Star opens a grocer’s shop at Springfield.

1914 A men’s outfitting shop is opened in Baddow Road.

1915 Chelmsford Star begins to use motorised vehicles for deliveries.

1917 Co-operative Party established.

1918 First woman, Sarah Hickley, is elected to the Management Committee of Chelmsford Star. Chelmsford Star now has a membership of 4,338 and annual sales of £142,245.

1919 Metal dividend tokens are abandoned by Chelmsford Star and the Climax system is introduced. 20 High Street is opened. The Co-operative College is established.

1921 Chelmsford Star is appointed as an agent for the Co-operative Bank. A Chelmsford dairy and a branch store at Ingatestone are opened.

1923 A Sick Benefit Club is launched by Chelmsford Star and Co-operative Day is established.

1925 Chelmsford Star establishes a Mutuality Trading Club, an Education Committee is formed, and a grocer’s shop at Danbury is opened.

1926 Wells Street butcher’s shop opened.

1927 Baddow Road butcher’s and Kings Road grocer’s store opened.

1928 A Co-operative Children’s Circle is formed in Chelmsford. Writtle grocer’s and butcher’s shops opened.

1929 Chelmsford Star erects its first garage and slaughterhouse. Coval Lane meadow purchased.

1930 Chelmsford Star sponsors a Silver Band.

1934 Chelmsford Star begins to operate mobile shops.

1935 Baddow Road fruit and vegetable shop, Galleywood grocer’s and 21 High Street opened.

1936 Chelmsford Star inaugurates its Funeral Service and opens a butcher’s and grocer’s shop at Great Baddow.

1938 Chelmsford Star opens a Travel Department and a grocer’s, hardware and tobacco shop at Broomfield.

1939 Chelmsford Star now has a Central Store, nine branch stores, a restaurant, men’s outfitters, a bakery, fruit and vegetable shop, coal depot, furniture shop, dairy, garage, and eight butcher’s shops. The membership is now 13,842 and annual sales are £325,631.

1941 First employee elected to Chelmsford Star’s Board of Management.

1942 Chelmsford Star establishes a Youth Club. London Co-operative Society opens the first self-service grocery in the UK at South Street, Romford.

1943 Chelmsford Star establishes a Co-operative Party.

1945 A.E. Hodge, a member of Chelmsford Star’s Management Committee, is elected as Mayor of Chelmsford Borough Council. Chelmsford Star purchases the Old Rodney Hotel at Little Baddow. 41 Duke Street is purchased and opened as a butcher’s. National Co-operative Chemists.

1946 A grocer’s at 50 Writtle Road and the Writtle Green baker’s shops are opened.

1947 Chelmsford Star opens a grocer’s at Boreham.

1949 Essex Ice Cream Co-operative Society.

1950 Essex Boot and Shoe Co-operative Society.

1951 156 Moulsham Street opened as a fruit and vegetable shop.

1952 Chelmsford Star transfers its dairy and garage to Coval Lane. 348/350 Baddow Road opened as a fruit/vegetable and grocer’s shop.

1953 Eastern Counties Federal Bakeries established. 1954 60 Trent Road opened as a bread and confectioney shop. Chelmsford Star achieves sales of over £1 million for the first time and has a membership of 19,089.

((1955 Chelmsford Star opens its first Self Service shop at Writtle Road/Waterhouse Lane.

1956 Beehive Lane grocer’s opened. A Chelmsford Room established at the Co-operative College, Stanford Hall.

1958 A Co-operative Commission, under its Chairman, Hugh Gaitskell, leader of the Labour Party, presents its report which recommends that there should be a reduction in the number of retail societies from 1,031 to 200-300. However, most ignore the report and amalgamations eventually take place as a result of financial necessity.

1959 Chelmsford Star is given approval to operate an off-license. Shoefayre established.

1960 Chelmsford Star establishes a Sports and Social Club.

1961 Moulsham Lodge grocer’s and 74 Trent Road grocer’s opened.

1969 Braintree Co-operative Society transfers its engagements to Chelmsford Star.

1971 Chelmsford Star introduces trading stamps. Industrial Common Ownership Movement.

1972 Barnard Road self-service store opened.

1973 London Road extension opened.

1978 National Co-operative Development Agency.

1983 Chelmsford Star joins the East Anglia Federal Co-operative Society.

1985 Chelmsford Star awarded first prize for the Co-operative Union’s Accountancy Award.

1986 Wickford Food Centre and Roxwell Road Service Centre opened by Chelmsford Star.

1987 39 High Street, Billericay opened.

1989 Chelmsford Star is awarded first prize for the CWS ’Caring in the Community’ competition.

1991 Braintree Quadrant opened by Chelmsford Star. United Kingdom Co-operative Council.

1992 Duke Street Foodcentre opened.

1993 17 Bridge Street, Writtle, 3-5 Spread Eagle Place, Ingatestone, 14-16 Torquay Road, and 115-117 ferry Road, Hullbridge Foodcentres opened.

1994 Chelmsford Star receives first prize for Chelmsford Borough Council’s Civic Award for Services to the Community.

Co-operative factories sold. Co-operative Retail Trading Group established.

1995 Chelmsford Starcard launched - the first of its kind. Chelmsford Star now has a membership of 38,867 and annual sales of £34,234,140.

1996 Chelmsford Star joins the Co-operative Retail Trading Group.

1997 Challis Lane "Altogether Fresher" is opened and sets the standard for the future.

1998 Chelmsford Star launches its Community Card - another first!

2000 Chelmsford Star opens an "Altogether Fresher" on Canvey Island.

2001 The Co-operative Commission, established with the support of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, publishes its report on the future of the Co-operative Movement; Chairman of the Commission was John Monks, General Secretary of the TUC.

2005 The members of Colchester Society and the Ipswich and Norwich Society agree to form the East of England Co-operative Society.

2017 At the 2017 AGM the Society began to celebrate its 150th anniversary. It has come a long way since 1867 with gross takings for the previous year amounting to £103,584,570 - its net profit being £1,380,252. The Society has 82,414 members, 42 food shops, two departmental stores (Braintree and Chelmsford) plus funeral and travel outlets.

The photograph shows the Moulsham Street Department Store in 1902, 1931, 1958 and 2017. In 1958 it was known as Co-operative House, today it is the Quadrant.