The Co-operative in Hinckley

The Hinckley Co-operative Society Ltd was founded 12th February 1861 by George Dare

George Dare

George Dare was the leading light in the early Co-Operative movement within Hinckley and District. George was the first Secretary and Manager, he was also largely responsible for its survival during the 'Cotton Famine'.

George was involved in the design of the Society's first premises being, by profession, a plumber and glazier. 'He was a man educated to a degree far beyond the average working man in his time, yet was ever ready to impart his knowledge to others.

At the Great Meeting Chapel where George was an active member and an occasional preacher, he took a class of working men in his spare time and taught them to read and write. He was a Painter by trade and an Architect by acquirement. He was also a partner in the firm of Dare & Lord who were Auctioneers in Castle Street and also the secretary of the Hinckley Loans Society.

August 1883 George died.

The Co-operative Society Premises in Hinckley

Stores, Rugby Road

1882 The Co-operative Society had purchased ten houses and tenements in Rugby Road for £475. Two of the houses were demolished and a new shop built on the site.

1883 The Rugby Road stores opened as a grocery and provision shop along with store rooms above and to the rear. The shop was situated where today (2014) part of the car park adjoins the new part of Trinity Lane at the junction with Rugby Road, near the Prince's Feathers pub.

1909 A house was converted into a butchers' shop, and was opened in January the following year.

Hinckley Co-operative Hinckley Co-operative
Grocery and Provision Shop (left/top), Butchers Shop (right/bottom)

Co-operative Hall, Castle Street/Hill Street

co-operative hall hinckley
Co-operative Hall

1889 The Co-operative property at the corner of Hill Street and Castle Street was rented for 5 years.

1891 the property was purchased for £650, the plans by Joseph Ball of Hinckley was for an imposing building of three storeys along with a commodious shop on the ground floor. There were store rooms on the second floor and a large Public Hall with enough seating for 300 people which was on the upper storey. The contractors were Thomas Bassett (41 Druid Street, Hinckley) and Thomas Jones (Derby Road/Charles Street, Hinckley). The cost of the building came to £967.

19th April 1892 the Public Hall was opened on Easter Tuesday with a tea and entertainment. The new store formed a very handsome building and was a most creditable addition to the business premises in the town. The building occupied a prominent position along Castle Street, with frontages to the street as well as Hill Street.

The building also comprised of a cellar, ground floor, and first and second floors, and there was also a large back store room and private yard at the rear of the building.

The ground floor comprised of two large rooms - one with an area of 660ft superficial which was for the grocery department. The other room was for drapery, with an area of 275ft.

The first floor there were two large store rooms, with an area of 700ft superficial and 440ft respectively as well as an ante room.

The large hall was on the third floor which averaged 44ft by 86ft and contained an area of 1,684ft superficial. The room was light and ventilated and big enough to seat 300 people at least. The hall was to be let for public gatherings, for which it was eminently suitable.

A handsome clock was fixed to the building at the angle of Castle Street and Hill Street, it was intended that the clock was illuminated by gas at night.

1903 the building was extended further at a cost of £358.

Central Stores, Castle Street

central stores in 1911
Central Stores c.1911

In the early 1860s the Society bought some old cottages in Castle Street. Joseph Dare was instructed to draw up plans to convert them into a shop. Richard Bassett of (The Borough/Upper Bond Street) Hinckley was chosen as the building contractor.

December 1863 the store opened with a finial cost of £139.8s.9d.

During 1865 and 1866 a drapery and pork butchers were added to the new shop.

1875 the drapery shop was enlarged, and during 1886 a bakery was built at the back of the premises. The foundations had to be sunk at least twelve feet through a portion of The Castle Moat and had to rest on a bed of concrete.

1893 the Castle Street drapery shop was again enlarged by the co-operative society, accounting for a further adjacent cottage.

1897-8 the grocery shop was modernised and new ovens were installed in the bakery.

1904 bay windows were installed on the second floor and a large clock with a dial either side suspended between the windows.

Butchery, Druid Street

1897 the butchery was opened by altering one of the Society's cottages.

1910 the three cottages and adjoining shop were purchased at a cost of £275, these were later improved at a further cost of £121.

Stores, Lower Bond Street

modernised co-op stores
Modernised Stores

1876 it was decided to open a shop in Lower Bond Street which was rented at £8.10s.0d per year.

1887 a block of property in the same location was purchased for £700 and was then demolished, in its place the Co-operative Society built a slaughterhouse along with pens. At the front of the building was a butcher's shop (on the site of the present 'Hole in the Wall' - 2014).

1905 the building was extended at a cost of £1,245 the contractor was Andrew Jeffcote of (Mill View off John Street) Hinckley. The shop was increased in length to 20ft and the four adjoining cottages (to reach which the tenants had to climb a flight of crumbling stone steps) were re-built and modernised.

Bakery, Well Lane

16th February 1907 one of the most up to date Bakehouses in the Midlands was built to designs by Ball & Heaton of Hinckley who had done the alterations on the Wesleyan Chapel on land attached to the Co-operative Society's cottages in Well Lane at a cost of £1,363. The contractors were Farmer & Greaves of 11 Mount Road, Hinckley.

The Bakehouse had a superficial floor space of 3,795ft and was lined throughout with enamelled bricks. The Bakehouse was fitted with three draw-plate ovens by Werner, Pfleiden & Perkins of Peterborough at a cost of £740.

The thoroughness of the work resulted in a considerable study by the Committee, who sent deputations to study the methods in other large Bakeries.

October 1968 the Bakehouse was purchased by G. Seller & Company which are funeral directors.

the co-op bakery along well lane co-op bakery in hinckley
The Bakery, well Lane

Stores, Duke Street

duke street co-op stores
Duke Street Stores

The Co-operative Society bought and converted a building along Duke Street, it was a former church.

1928 the store opened to the public.

Today (2014) you will find this Co-operative store occupied by Dave Clarke & Son Ltd, the road has also been renamed from Duke Street to Southfield Road.

New Central Stores, Castle Street

The new Central Stores were built after some discussion as to the wisdom of occupying this formerly open garden site with its mature trees, between Castle Hill House and Castle Street itself.

30th April 1930 the opening of the new central stores to the public which was designed by the Architect George Perkins of Hinckley, the general contractor was Arthur Russell of Albert Road, Hinckley.

The building occupied a prominent position directly in front of the Society's offices which were in Castle Hill House. The emporium was erected on a base of concrete, steel frames and filled in with brickwork. The front was built of reconstructed stone along with a slated roof, the overall measurements were 92ft 6in by 53ft.

The building consisted of two levels, the ground floor had a window space of approximately 50ft by 20ft being on the arcade principle with two entrances leading to two departments, which were the Gents outfitting on the left and the boots and shoes on the right.

new central stores, castle street, hinckely
New Central Stores, Castle Street

The first floor was approached by an oak staircase that was six feet wide, with two landings fixed at the back of the centre window. This floor was 80ft x 50ft and was used as a costumiers and milliners department. A small stage had been erected at the lower end of the room, in conjunction with this a portable platform extended to the staircase was erected for the purpose of mannequin parades. At the rear of the stage there were dressing rooms etc. The ceiling was of a barrel type and was panelled in harmony with the walls which were suitably decorated.

An outstanding feature of the Ladies department was the arrangement of the hanging cases, these were constructed to form cubicles with mirrored doors so that six ladies could receive attention in privacy at the same time.

The whole of the internal shop fittings had been executed in Austrian oak and were of the latest quick service type.

Co-operative Superstore, Castle Street

The building of the new Co-operative Superstore along Castle Street resulted in the demolition of the historic Castle Hill House, which had become the administrative headquarters for the Co-operative Society for a number of years.

21st September 1978 the new Co-operative Superstore opened.

Video Transformation of the 1930 Central Stores with the modern 1978 Superstore.

A couple of the Co-operative vehicles from the past

barwell co-op van co-op van from hinckley
Alfred Allsopp with the Barwell Co-op Van c.1930 (left/top)
Co-op Van of the Brookside Grocery branch c.1960s (right/bottom)