Forging Ahead: Stourbridge Rd Co-op

We are looking for memories of the  Number 11, ‘Hawne’ branch of the Halesowen & Hasbury Industrial Co-operative Society on 19 November.

What we need & how to contact us

Stourbridge road co-op

Did you or anyone in your family shop at the Stourbridge Road shop in the late 1940s/early 1950s? Do you remember your Halesowen & Hasbury ‘divi’ number and where you collected your share from?  Did you shop at other Halesowen & Hasbury Co-ops? 

If you do have anything you would like to share to help in our recreation of the No.11 Co-op branch,    please get in touch with our Collections Team. 

  • Tel: 0121 557 9643
  • Email: [email protected] 
  • Post address: Collections Team, Black Country Living Museum, Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 4SQ 

The very first co-operative shop was opened by the Rochdale Pioneers in Toad Lane, Rochdale in 1844.  The Halesowen & Hasbury Industrial Co-operative Society was founded in 1871, opening its first shop in Peckingham Street.

By the outbreak of World War One they had five branches. After the war it attempted to expand its operations to embrace the new residential areas in towns like Quinton and Blackheath.

The Hawne branch on the Stourbridge Road was its eleventh opening, in 1930, after a strong period of expansion, well positioned to serve the large-scale development of the Short Cross area of Halesowen.  The building, with its distinctive steep pitched roof and square frontage, was designed by local architect, Stanley Beach and built by a local contractor, Mr Tate.

Co-op shops were popular in the Black Country, stocking household names as well as their own Co-op brands, such as Pelaw Polish, Lutona Cocoa and Silvox beef extract.  Phyllis Taylor, who shopped at the Wollescote branch and later worked at the Colley Gate shop, recalls “They did all their own stuff, Co-op soup and Co-op rice pudding, it was lovely, and it was always a couple of pence cheaper… 99 tea, it was the biggest brand going, we used to sell boxes and boxes.”

Like all shops, the Co-op was affected by wartime rationing, yet in this period the Co-operative nationally were at the forefront of introducing self-service shopping for the first time.   Their first self-service store opened in 1942.

The Halesowen & Hasbury Society experimented with self-service in three shops in 1949, one being the Hawne branch. It was promoted as a modern service, customers choosing their own products and not having to wait to be served.  There was some resistance from customers however. George Bishop, manager from 1958 at the Whiteheath, Oldbury branch, part of the Halesowen and Hasbury Society, said “People complained about the loss of personal contact with the introduction of self-service, but they soon got used to it.”