Part of the exhibition at Rushden Museum this year is “The Co-op in Rushden.” The Rushden Industrial Co-operative Society was formed in 1877 with 15 committee members plus a treasurer and a secretary. At first they traded from ‘front rooms’ until the first shop opened in High Street in 1878.
The first manager was David Darnell Jnr. who had to provide a bond of £40 together with 2 bonds of £25 from other persons. He was paid £1 per week plus 6d in the pound commission.
Opening times were 8am to 8pm in the week and 8am to 10pm on Saturday. The shop was closed on Christmas Day, Good Friday and special days.
By the time the new store and hall opened in High Street in August 1903, there were already stores in High Street South, Queen Street , Park Road, and Wellingborough Road. There was a ‘grand procession’ round the town headed by Mr. A. Willmott on horseback followed by the Rushden Volunteer Band. A number of prominent local co-operators followed on foot with about twenty trade vehicles and carriages behind them. They were very fond of parades and processions in those days.
David Darnell Jnr
The first shop
A platform had been erected in front of the store and the crowd was so large that the road had to be closed.
After the ceremony tea was provided in the Queen Street schools and in a field in the Park Road. There was much celebration in the Park Road field with the Volunteer Band playing for dancing, and various other entertainments.
The Co-operative Society grew until there were Co-op stores all over the town selling everything you could possible need. The Toy Fair in the Hall every Christmas was a joy to all children.
In the museum we have a display of photographs of most of the stores along with some of the Co-op vehicles, and as the Co-op had so many different departments, we have taken advantage of the opportunity to use some of the varied artefacts from our store to create the displays.