Co-operative Conference – 3. Delegates Comments

October 1891

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 09 October 1891

Co-operative Conference at Denaby Main.

How to Reach the Poorer Classes.

Delegates Comments

Councillor Llewelyn said the writer of that paper was obviously a Democrat, a man who honestly sought to introduce social reform. They had undoubtedly, a great deal of poverty in their midst, and a great deal that was self-inflicted. (Hear, hear). By the action of the stores and education department, efforts have been made to remedy this. (Hear, hear).

He looked upon the women’s Guild as being a very useful organisation, there was a great work for the women amongst the people, and he believed they would have to play an important part in the great social reforms of the present day. (Hear, hear.) He thought they should allow themselves to become missionaries, as it were, to go into the poorer neighbourhoods, and if possible, to get to the mothers meetings, and taught these matters over with the poor folk with a view to their joining the co-operative movement. (Hear, hear).

He was in full sympathy with the suggestion that they should look after the children, and he hoped the time will come when cooperation will be taught in the schools. (Cheers). Proceeding, Mr Llewelyn denounced the credit system, and especially the action of those who encouraged it, charging poor people are guinea for what ought to be a sovereign, then perchance getting from 15 to 20% profit. (“Shame.”) Such people are getting rich out of the poverty and misery of the poor. (Hear, hear).

Mr Llewellyn also incidentally observed that cooperators had a right to a fair share of representation on town councils, county councils and in Parliament. (Hear, hear). What they wanted to do was to exert their utmost influence with a view to the uplifting of the downtrodden, and to break down the pernicious influence of the sweater. (Cheers). In order to do this a practical sympathy would have to lay more in the direction indicated by the writer of the paper and it had been hitherto. (Hear, hear)

Mr Jennings (Masborough), said, in order to reduce the extent of the so-called residuum, a fatal blow would need to be struck at the drink traffic. (Hear, hear). This was the one great obstacle to the cause of Christianity and to the general well-being of the community. (Hear, hear). It bound men down as with fetters, and all their higher aspirations were deadened by the demon drink. (Cheers).

Mr H Marriott (Masborough), thought the Education Committee connected with the co-operative movement might devise some means to further the object aimed at by the writer of the paper. He strongly advocated the education of the children in principles of cooperation. (Hear, hear.)

Mr Cooper (Mexborough), said a few years ago a Penny Bank was started at Mexborough and today the membership was 1200. (Hear, hear) it was an interesting site between the hours of 530 and 8 PM to see the children taking in their pennies, two pennies and up to 5 shillings to the savings bank. Many persons besides the children took advantage of the savings bank. Some men who had been in the habit of spending their money every week now to money regularly to the bank and purchased suits of clothes with it in various forms which they did not before. (Hear, hear). The secretary of the Mexborough stores came forward liberally at the annual gathering and give the children a free tea and it would have done the cooperators good if they could have seen how the little ones enjoyed it. It was not a tea made this for children, was similar in every way to what the parents had. (Hear, hear). He well remember standing at one of the table and hearing a youngster say, “Ah mester, these ‘ere ‘am sandwiches are good!” (Laughter”). These children would have a happy remembrance of the annual event and it would attach them to the co-operative movement. (Hear, hear).

Mr G Wheelhouse (Barnsley), thought the writer of the paper was scarcely sufficiently practical, it seemed “up in a balloon,” as it were. (Laughter). Some of the recommendations made by Mr Webber been put in practice long ago, and others were not desirable. Mr Wheelhouse said many wives do not advocate the establishment of clubs, knowing what an unfortunate difference it had made in their husbands. (Hear, hear).

The Reverend W Butler said it might appear a little presumptuous for him to make any remarks at a gathering of that kind; it would certainly rather listen to those who had had more experience. He had not only been interested but instructed by what he had heard that afternoon no thanks are due to the writer of so good a paper. (Hear, hear). Co-operative work was one of the bright spots at Denaby Main. Tradesmen sometimes complain about the way the co-operative movement affected them financially, but that could not apply to villages like Denaby Main, and he cordially approved of cooperation there because the people there got good wages and wanted to be taught how to take care of their earnings. (Hear, hear). Although he was not able to speak as one having a great deal of experience in the co-operative movement yet he was unmistakably in sympathy with a good object of teaching the people to be thrifty and showing them how to best invest their money. (Hear, hear).

Continuing, the Reverend gentleman humorously remarked that he was in need of help at Denaby Main and if the co-operators could assist him he should be very grateful. He wished to engage assistance of a young layman, who has been training for evangelistic work. But he could not “raise the wind” for the purpose, he was afraid. The young man was one of whom he could recommend any cordially. He was one moreover, who would be likely to become a very good co-approval operator. He should like very much to raise 24 shillings per week for three months for this help in his religious work.

Mrs Knott (Parkgate) spoken in approval of the paper, as also did Mr Wightman (Doncaster) and Mr Whitfield (Kilnhurst), the latter saying he was thoroughly agree with the suggestion that the advantage of co-operation should be taught the children in school reading books, for co-operation is undoubtedly a great social lever for the raising of the people. (Hear, hear).

An adjournment was then made for tea, which was excellently served in an adjoining room. Before leaving, Mr Knowles, Mr Llewelyn, and Mr Swan made graceful allusion to the recent celebration of the golden wedding of Mr and Mrs Jennings, of Mexborough, and Mr Jennings who is one of the executive committee of the co-operative Association acknowledged the kindness.

Mr Llewelyn instantly spoke of the great strides are to be made at Denaby Main and said that if that radical progress continued it would soon be spoken of as “Doncaster near Denaby” (laughter). He also mentioned that the ship canal scheme was advancing, though but little was publicly aired about it.

The Denaby Main friends were cordially thanked for their excellent tea