Rochdale consumer co-operatives and Australian labour history

The idea of Rochdale Co-operatives was imported from the United Kingdom to Australia. The motivation for establishing and joining the co-operatives varied, ranging from individual economic gain to the overthrow of capitalism. This paper will examine the meaning of ‘co-operation’ and focus on particular attributes of the Rochdale consumer co-operatives. It will then look at the treatment of the Rochdale co-operative movement in Australian labour historiography, suggesting several reasons for its marginal status. Finally, the paper examines several issues in relation to the Rochdale co-operatives as a political movement, employer and business.

The idea of Rochdale Consumer Co-operatives was imported from the United Kingdom (UK) to Australia. The motivation for establishing and joining the co-operatives varied. There was the economic motivation of additional income through interest on capital and the regular dividend based on purchases. At the other extreme there were those who saw the co-operatives as the basis for a Co-operative Commonwealth and the overthrow of capitalism. The consumer co-operatives would generate sufficient capital for the establishment of co-operative banks, co-operative insurance and producer co-operatives, which would supplant capitalist enterprises.

This paper will examine the meaning of ‘co-operation’ and focus on particular attributes of the Rochdale consumer co-operatives. It will then look at the treatment of the Rochdale co-operative movement in Australian labour historiography, suggesting several reasons for its marginal treatment by labour historians. Finally, the paper will explore several issues in relation to the Rochdale co-operatives as a political movement, employer and business.

Co-operation and the Rochdale principles

Co-operation is a ‘vague concept’ and has a wide range of meanings. In the 1890s it could mean more harmonious relations between capital and labour through more ‘amicable’ industrial relations procedures and profit sharing. It also stood for the replacement of capitalism through worker-owned and managed production enterprises or the organisation of consumers in co-operative stores. It covered a variety of land settlement schemes that arose in Australia during the 1890s against a background of high unemployment and ‘social experimentation’. These schemes encompassed both individual ownership and joint ownership. To add to the confusion employers sponsored ‘co-operative’ company stores in towns such as Port Pirie in 1917 and Port Kembla in 1918 to prevent workers from obtaining credit during industrial disputes and minimise wage demands by controlling prices. Some Australian ordinary joint stock companies, especially when a number of concerns have amalgamated, also adopted the term as a trade name.[1] By the early 1950s one definition of the Australian co-operative movement included Rochdale consumer co-operatives, producer co-operatives, building societies, credit unions, community advancement societies, agricultural co-operatives and friendly societies. Co-operation was viewed as a way of ‘helping each other’, which emphasised not only ‘self help but mutual help’.[2] In 1988 a NSW Government agency proclaimed that the ‘essential difference between co-operatives and other forms of economic enterprise is the subordination of business techniques to ethical ideas. The focus is on service and reach rather than maximising profits’.[3]

The Rochdale consumer co-operatives were founded on the basis of a clear set of principles. Following an unsuccessful strike in 1844, 28 flannel weavers in Rochdale, England started the movement to combat low wages, high prices and poor quality food. Their interest in co-operation was built upon the foundations laid by Welsh manufacturer and social reformer Robert Owen, who believed that ideal communities based on co-operation rather than competition would eliminate unemployment and pauperism and create a prosperous and harmonious community. The principles for the Rochdale
co-operatives included: the provision of capital by members at a fixed rate of interest; unadulterated or pure food to be supplied, with the full weight and measure given; market prices; cash purchases only and no credit; a dividend on purchases or ‘divvy’ based on profits were to be divided among members in proportion to the amount of purchases; management to be based on democratic principles with ‘one member one vote’ rather than ‘one vote one share’; and that a share of profits should be allotted to education.[4]

The Rochdale movement in England, despite a number of legal and economic obstacles, grew. Private retailers attempted to limit competition from the co-operatives by persuading wholesalers to stop or restrict supplies to the co-operatives. There were also concerns about relying upon private manufacturers more concerned with profits than product quality. So the retail co-operatives established a Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) in England in 1863 and Scotland in 1868. The wholesalers also operated on Rochdale principles such as a fixed rate of interest on capital and a ‘divvy’. The wholesale societies ultimately became global enterprises with purchases of primary products from countries such as Australia and Canada and tea plantations in Sri Lanka and India. The English CWS also moved into banking and insurance. The retail co-operatives formed a Co-operative Union in 1872 for education, legal, propaganda and political purposes. A notable outcome of the Co-operative Union activities was the formation in 1883 of the Women’s Co-operative Guild, which aimed to promote an interest by women in the co-operative movement and also protect female employees. Retail co-operatives even formed a Co-operative Party in 1917, which formally affiliated with the British Labour Party in 1927. By 1948 there were 1,030 retail co-operatives in the United Kingdom with 10,162,000 members.[5]

British immigrants played an important role in bringing the Rochdale principles to Australia. Retail
co-operatives became a feature of coalmining districts such as the Hunter Valley, the Illawarra, the Lithgow Valley, Wonthaggi in Victoria and Collie in Western Australia. There were Rochdale co-operatives outside these areas. Particularly notable was the Adelaide society, which opened in 1868 and had 9,412 members by 1923. In 1923 there were 152 consumers’ societies in Australia, with a membership of 110,000 and a capital of £1,800,000. NSW and South Australia were the strongholds of these consumer societies. Even during the virtual collapse of the Rochdale co-operatives during the 1970s and 1980s the Newcastle and Suburban Co-operative achieved a peak membership of 95,000 in mid-1978. The Hunter Valley retail co-ops also founded the NSW CWS in 1912. The NSW CWS set up a broom factory in Newcastle in 1914 and packed bulk goods such as soap and tea under its own name. It imported tea from the English CWS. It published the Co-operative News, which was the main journal for the co-operative movement, from 1923 to 1959. By 1949 the NSW CSW had 110 affiliates, with some in Victoria. The NSW CWS eventually ceased operations in 1979. There were also Women’s Co-operative Guilds in NSW and South Australia. The movement developed its own leaders such as George Booth, Margaret Jones, and Tom Shonk. While there was some discussion of the Rochdale co-operatives forming a
Co-operative Party and a Co-operative Bank, this never eventuated in Australia. Although the Australian movement did not achieve the success of its British counterparts, it was significant for workers and their families in a number of localities.[6]

Australian labour historiography and the Rochdale movement

Australian labour historians have largely ignored the Rochdale consumer co-operative movement. David Walker and Ray Markey, who focus on NSW in the 1890s, wrote the only articles that specifically deal with co-operation in Labour History. Both recognise the vagueness of the term ‘co-operation’ at that time. Walker is primarily concerned with the unsuccessful experiments with agricultural co-operatives, while Markey focuses on trade unions and workers’ production co-operatives.[7] There are only brief references to the Rochdale movement. Markey dismisses it by noting that ‘consumer co-operation never gained the working class support that it had in Britain and seems to have taken strong hold in the coalfields …'[8] Walker also dismisses the Rochdale movement in Australia but recognises its presence outside the NSW coalfields in the Adelaide Co-operative, which was larger than any consumer co-operative in the ‘mother colony’.[9]

In several Labour History articles there is recognition of the significance of the Rochdale co-operatives at the local level. Annette Salt in her study of the women on the Northern Coalfields during the Great Depression notes that refusal of the Kurri Kurri Co-operative to merge with the Newcastle and Suburban Co-operative during the 1980s was a measure of the strength of community identity or localism in the town. However, with the exception of a reference to the participation of a Women’s Committee of the Kurri Kurri Co-operative in a 19B march, the role of the Co-operative in the 1930’s Depression is ignored.[10] Peter Cochrane in his study of the 1934 Wonthaggi coal strike notes the key role of the Wonthaggi Co-operative Store in supporting striking miners. The ‘divvy’ on purchases, bulk sales and donations to the strikers’ relief committee helped the miners win the strike. In Broken Hill,
Bradon Ellem and John Shields noted that the Rochdale co-operative movement played an important role in the efforts of unions to fight stores set up by employers. There was an indexation provision in the 1925 Broken Hill Mines Agreement that provided a powerful incentive for employers to control prices. A company-financed ‘co-operative’ store was established for this purpose, although the unions supported the establishment of a Rochdale retail co-operative store and speakers from the movement visited Broken Hill to promote the idea. Ultimately, the company store was transformed into a union-orientated co-operative store based on the Rochdale system. Women, however, preferred to continue shopping with private retailers. This was despite the formation of a local branch of the Women’s Co-operative Guild, which aimed to win over working class women to the co-operative cause. Ellem and Shields suggest that women did not embrace the co-operative store as male unionists wanted because they wished to preserve one area of autonomy in a male-dominated town.[11]

The general neglect of the Rochdale co-operative movement is also found in other publications by Australian labour historians. Major works highlight their insignificance or ambiguous role in class relations. John Child notes that they made ‘little headway’, while Ken Buckley and Ted Wheelwright claim there was no Australian development of consumer co-operatives except in coalmining areas.[12] While Bob Connell and Terry Irving do see the co-operative store as a common feature of the Australian ‘union town’, the working class impulse for co-operation through co-operative stores, building societies and friendly societies ‘was contained within a bourgeois social form – the joint stock company’.[13] Like Markey and Walker, a number of labour historians recognise the significance of the debates concerning co-operation during the 1890s, but have little to say about the Rochdale co-operative movement.[14] Edgar Ross in his history of the Miners’ Federation recognises the important role that coal miners played in the Rochdale movement and the ‘valuable’ support that the retail co-operatives gave to miners during industrial disputes. Despite this, he concludes that the co-operative movement never influenced ‘the direction of working class endeavour to the extent of any other various brands of socialism…'[15] Erik Eklund in his study of relationship between storekeepers and the working class also highlighted that Australian private retailers shared ‘the virulent anti-cooperative mentality’ of their British counterparts and opposed the Rochdale co-operatives as a threat to their economic viability. He notes that despite this, the Rochdale movement achieved ‘some success’ before 1940.[16]

As in the journal Labour History, the main interest in the Rochdale movement can be found in local histories, particularly in the Illawarra and Hunter regions of NSW. Neville Arrowsmith and Ray Markey looked at the history of consumer co-operatives in the Illawarra, which was dominated by the Woonona Industrial Co-operative Society. This co-operative was established in 1896 and by 1952 it had a membership of 6,186. Its head office was in Woonona and it had branches at seven locations including Wollongong and Port Kembla. The Woonona co-operative was wound up in 1970 in the face of supermarket competition, ‘disposable consumerism’, the decline of working class communities and the reduction in the need for home deliveries as automobile ownership became more widespread. John McQuilton claims that the decline of the co-operatives in the Illawarra was partly due to ‘bad management’ arising from poor employee training and inadequate recruitment of new members. Arrowsmith, Markey and others highlight the positive role of the Woonona co-operative through providing financial credit to sick, unemployed and striking members, and by treating their employees ‘decently’.[17] They also highlight the significant opportunities for women provided by the Co-operative Guilds, which ‘enabled working class women to get out into the community as equal partners in community affairs’.[18]

The general positive image of the retail co-operatives contrasts to the work of Daphne Hampton, who examined the history of retail co-operatives in the lower Hunter Valley. While Hampton notes for example that the Kurri Kurri Co-operative Society provided financial credit for miners and their families during strikes and periods of unemployment, it was forced to take legal action against members to recover debts. Kurri Kurri also retrenched workers and rationed work for remaining employees during periods of economic crisis. Bitter divisions could also rise within retail co-operatives particularly during times of crisis such as the collapse of the Newcastle and Suburban Co-operative Society in 1979-1980. Hampton further questions the classification of the Newcastle and Suburban Co-operative, which was for many years Australia’s largest retail co-operative, as a miners’ society. It drew upon the large and diversified industrial working class of the Newcastle district, which meant it was more robust than the mining community co-operatives that relied on the economics of coal.[19]

The retail history literature has little to add to our understanding of Rochdale co-operatives in Australia apart from demonstrating the confusion over the extent and influence of the movement. Webber and Hoskins emphasise the significance of consumer co-operatives to the history of retail in Australia. In contrast, the majority of writers of retail history either neglect or downgrade the role of co-operative stores. Kim Humphery notes that a limited consumer co-operative movement existed in early twentieth century Australia, but dismisses it as providing little threat to the independent grocer or to the development of larger retail firms. Gail Reekie briefly notes the active participation of women in consumer co-operatives, and hence in consumer politics. Beverley Kingston argues that the co-operative movement ‘was one of several working-class ideas adopted and developed out of recognition by the middle classes’ identifying the Melbourne Mutual Store and the Civil Service Store in Sydney as the most memorable examples of the co-operative movement in Australia, both of which ‘were modelled on London’s middle-class co-operatives’.[20] Reekie and Kingston both emphasise the Civil Service Store, although this was not considered to be a true Rochdale co-operative by the movement, again demonstrating the confusion over the character and role of consumer co-operatives in Australian history.[21]

Labour historians have generally overlooked two key sources of historical debate concerning the Rochdale movement – the literature following World War I concerning the Rochdale movement and the co-operative movement itself. The Rochdale co-operative movement during the 1920s attracted the attention of a number of academics including Herbert Heaton, W.E. McConnell and F.R.E. Mauldon. Heaton, who was later described as a ‘staunch member of the Adelaide co-op’, [22] highlighted the significance of the Rochdale co-operative movement in South Australia. He noted that generally co-operatives were less important in Australia than the UK because of the focus of the labour movement on unionism and politics. He also claimed that some unionists opposed it because the ‘divvi’ could be viewed as a reduction in the cost of living and therefore an argument to prevent wage rises in the arbitration courts. Heaton also saw the greater individualism in new countries such as Australia leading to a preoccupation with personal advancement rather than ‘concerted action’. He also tried to explain ‘waves of interest’ in Australian retail co-operatives over time emphasising the rising cost of living during and after World War I. McConnell also tried to explain the growth of the consumer co-operatives NSW in terms of ‘economic pressure’, particularly profiteering, and ‘idealism’. Like Heaton, McConnell emphasised that the Rochdale movement had a broader geographical appeal than just the coalfields. In contrast to Adelaide, there were difficulties in establishing co-operatives in the Sydney metropolitan area. Indeed the Balmain Co-operative Society, which McConnell hails as a success, eventually went into voluntary liquidation in 1936. He notes the existence of consumer rather than producer co-operatives in rural areas of NSW. McConnell argues that Rochdale co-operatives had particular appeal to orchardists and poultry farmers due to closer settlement and a ‘community of interest’. Rural towns, which had some industry and were important railway junctions, were also sites of retail co-operatives. During the 1920s Rochdale co-operatives were located in rural towns such as Griffith and Junee. Mauldon was very critical of the Australian Rochdale movement noting that there was little of the ‘buoyant idealism’ that characterised the UK movement and claimed that the majority of the co-operative shareholders were little more than ‘dividend hunters’.[23]

There have also been histories produced by members and employees of Rochdale movement in Australia. The Kurri Kurri Co-operative Society, for example, published two souvenir histories celebrating its 25th year in 1929 and its 50th year in 1954. Former employees of the Lithgow Co-operative Society recently published a history of the organisation, which went into liquidation in 1980, following a reunion of staff in 1996. Using documentary records and oral history they provide a number of insights into how a Rochdale co-operative functioned in Australia. They highlight that despite the Rochdale movement’s claims about harmonious relations between non-capitalist co-operatives and their employees, there were strikes and walkouts. They even raise doubts about claims that the removal of the profit motive ensured quality goods. One manager ordered his employees to pick weevils out of bags of dried fruit and then sell the dried fruit.[24]

The most significant history produced by the co-operative movement is Gary Lewis’ history of Rochdale co-operation in NSW. It was published by the Australian Association of Co-operatives and was based on a PhD thesis. Unfortunately, labour historians interested in consumer co-operatives have ignored it. The book highlights that the Rochdale movement was riddled with divisions and unable to unite around common goals. A major schism occurred between federalists and individualists. The federalists subordinated production to consumption and stressed the loyalty of tied stores to the CWS. They were concerned that autonomous producer co-operatives would not share their profits with consumers and would through a Co-operative Union dominate the consumer. Individualists believed that the CWS was necessary but not sufficient to achieve a Co-operative Commonwealth. They saw production as the primary act of humanity and feared that the CWS if dominant would fritter away surpluses through endless ‘divvis’ and be governed by commercial rather than social imperatives. There were also tensions between some women in the Guilds and the male-dominated CWS over the direction of the movement. The Rochdale movement in Australia was unable to form alliances with the labour movement and agricultural co-operatives. However, despite its contribution, there are limits to Lewis’s study. While it recognises the presence of the Rochdale movement in other states, it reinforces the general pre-occupation with NSW. Although Lewis is critical of the federalist approach, the book provides a ‘top down’ history of the co-operative by relying on federalist sources such as The Co-operative News. There is no detailed examination of the individual co-operatives and their local communities.[25]

Overall, labour historians have largely overlooked the Rochdale movement for several reasons. The Australian labour movement preferred to take the path of trade unionism and the Labor Party rather than pursue co-operativism. While there is evidence to contrary, they are seen as only being of significance to workers in coalmining districts. There have also been doubts about the significance of ‘islands’ of socialism such as co-operatives as an effective challenge to capitalism. Indeed, Edgar Ross argued that if the various types of co-operatives did succeed they would ‘blur the real issues of the working class struggle against exploitation and for economic security’.[26] There are some challenges to this marginalisation of Rochdale co-operatives. Local labour historians have emphasised their significance in class relations at particular localities. Heaton and his colleagues in the 1920s highlighted the need for a greater understanding of the fluctuating fortunes of the Rochdale co-operatives and recognition of their geographical spread beyond traditional coalmining areas. Lewis notes that the Rochdale movement in Australia, despite its failures, was an important focus for debates not only over the form of the movement, but the future of capitalism. The literature suggests a number of issues that the labour historians can explore in regard to the Rochdale movement and these will be outlined in the next
section of the paper.


The literature on the Rochdale movement in Australia and preliminary research indicates that there are six key issues in examining the retail co-operatives. These are ideology, general management, employee relations, the relationship with the labour movement, gender relations and opposition from the private sector. The ideology of the co-operative movement ranged from what may be termed ‘business co-operativism’, which focussed on the ‘divvi’ and the return of capital, to a fundamental belief in the need to replace capitalism with a Co-operative Commonwealth. These divisions had major implications for the Rochdale movement in Australia, which was unsuccessful in establishing a permanent national organisation. The Rochdale movement also claimed it was non-political and ‘classless’ to avoid divisions over allegiances to the Labor Party, Communist Party and even Non-Labor Parties. This non-political stance created suspicions on both the Right and Left particularly during crises such as the Labor Party split of the 1950s.[27]

The management of the Rochdale co-operatives also created the potential for tension between shareholders, management committees and appointed managers. Shareholders pre-occupied with economic returns expected high ‘divvis’ and a satisfactory return on capital. There were expectations of high quality goods and fair prices. Managers wanted to retain surpluses to allow for investment and expansion. Some managers saw themselves as businessmen first and co-operators second. There were also continuing concerns about the competence of managers and calls for training programmes.
The democratic structure of the Rochdale co-operatives provided shareholders with opportunities to express their displeasure with the management. There are examples of shareholders removing management committees and managers that did not deliver a reasonable return, raised the price on staples such as bread, or provided poor quality merchandise.[28]

The Rochdale co-operatives claimed that they treated their employers better than the private sector because they were not preoccupied with profits. There are numerous examples of this through the provision of better wages and conditions. However, dissent did exist over numerous employee relations issues, particularly in relation to non-standard pay. For example, in the 1920s, sick pay was not encouraged, regardless of court decisions, and the movement’s policy on penalty rates during the 1940s was that ‘payment should be for work done or time worked; and that where inconvenient hours are involved the workers should be rostered so that all should share them equally’.[29] Furthermore, there were variations in the quality of employee relations. There appears to have been less industrial conflict at the Woonona co-operative compared to its counterparts at Kurri Kurri and Lithgow. Management at the larger co-operatives also adopted similar personnel practices to the private sector. For example, the Newcastle and Suburban Co-operative had a staff welfare club, while the Lithgow Co-operative adopted worker participation on the board of management in the 1970s. The relationship between employees and management was further complicated by the ability of workers to become shareholders through the purchase of shares. There was also the issue of nepotism in recruitment particularly as many co-operatives operated in small towns with limited local labour markets.[30]

The Rochdale co-operative movement ultimately did not establish a close official relationship with the labour movement. The co-operative movement regularly appealed for a greater link with the labour movement, urging unions to invest funds in co-operatives in preparation for industrial action. In turn, the Rochdale co-operatives provided credit to striking workers and allowed union closed shops. However, calls within the Rochdale movement for unions of co-operative employees and the Co-operative Party did not please trade unions and the Labor Party. There were also concerns about the political effectiveness of the Rochdale movement in challenging capitalism and fears that the co-operatives were reinforcing capitalism through ‘business co-operativism’. Despite the claims to the contrary, some unions believed that in the treatment of workers employees there was little difference between the co-operatives and the private sector. However, at the local level, trade unionists, whether members of the Communist Party or the Labor Party were active in their local co-operatives. Notable labour activists on the Rochdale movement included Jim Healey and George Booth. Healey, the Communist Secretary of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, was on the board of the North Sydney Co-operative, while Booth, the Labor member for the NSW state seats of Newcastle and later Kurri Kurri from 1925 to 1960, was president of the NSW CWS for many years. The Queensland Branch of the ALP also published ‘The Consumers’ Co-op’, a six page monthly featuring much co-operative news amongst its political matters, from 1946.[31]

Gender relations are manifested in the treatment of women as consumers and employees. They are also highlighted by role of the Women’s Guilds in the Australian Rochdale movement. The Co-operatives recognised the significance of women as the main purchaser of goods in most working class households. This ranged from the fashion shows put on by the Lithgow Co-operative in the 1930s to features in The Co-operative News on the upbringing of children, romance, beauty tips, cooking and knitting. While there were calls in the movement for equal pay, co-operatives in towns such as Lithgow followed general practice of requiring women to resign from their jobs upon marriage. Women’s Guilds also went beyond the supportive role expected by the NSW CWS. Some guilds frequently challenged the male-dominated CWS by criticising their leadership and organising conferences to look at alternative paths for the Rochdale movement. There were also regional variations in the strength of the Women’s Guilds. While they were active in the Illawarra and the Hunter Valley, they were not significant in the Lithgow Valley and rural areas.[32]

Finally, there is the issue of competition from the private sector. There was history of private sector opposition to the Rochdale movement as the co-operatives were a threat to the financial viability of private sector storekeepers. There was direct competition which involved price wars, bribery and collusion with wholesalers aimed at crippling and bankrupting the co-operative stores. There was indirect competition associated with the changing nature of retailing. The rise of chain stores, cash and carry, supermarkets and shopping centres are examples of this.


Overall, labour historians have largely overlooked the Rochdale movement. There are some challenges to this marginalisation of Rochdale co-operatives. Local labour historians have emphasised their significance in class relations at particular localities, while others have highlighted their geographical spread beyond traditional coalmining areas and their own significant ideological battles over the future of capitalism. Several authors suggest that greater individualism and earlier development of Labor politics in Australia may explain why the Rochdale movement was less successful here than in the UK. This paper highlights six areas for further research: ideology, general management, employee relations, relationship between the Rochdale and the labour movements, gender relations and opposition from the private sector. An exploration of these issues will ensure that the Rochdale movement gains greater prominence in Australian labour historiography.


1. N. Balnave, ‘Industrial Welfarism In Australia, 1890-1965’, PhD Thesis, The University of Sydney, 2002, chap. 9; E. Eklund, ‘The ‘Anxious Class’? Storekeepers and the Working Class in Australia, 1900-1940′, in R. Markey (ed.), Labour and Community: historical essays, University of Wollongong Press, Wollongong, 2001, p. 233; H. Heaton, Modern Economic History with Special Reference to Australia, Workers’ Educational Association of South Australia, 3rd ed., Adelaide, 1925, p. 304; R. Markey, ‘New South Wales Trade Unions and the ‘Co-operative Principle’ in the 1890s’, Labour History, no. 49, 1985, p. 51.

2. E. Entwisle (ed.), The Jubilee Co-operative Handbook of NSW, Co-operative Institute, Sydney, 1952, pp. 3-4.

3. NSW Ministerial Council on Future Directions for Co-operatives, Co-ops in New South Wales. A Guide to Who They Are, What They Do, Their Products and Services, NSW Ministerial Council on Future Directions for Co-operatives, Sydney, 1988, p. 13.

4. Heaton, Modern Economic History, pp. 296-299; G.J. Lewis, A Middle Way. Rochdale Co-operation in New South Wales 1859-1886, Australian Association of Co-operatives Ltd., Sydney, 1992, p. xv-xvii.

5. A.M.G. Carr-Saunders, P. Sargant Florence and R. Peers, Consumers’ Co-operation in Great Britain. An Examination of the British Co-operative Movement, 3rd ed., George Allen and Unwin, London, 1940, pp. 156-7; D.H. Cole, The British Co-operative Movement in a Socialist Society, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1951, p. 24; Heaton, Modern Economic History, 300-303; M. Hilson, ‘Consumers and Politics: The Co-operative Movement in Plymouth, 1890-1920’, Labour History Review, vol. 67, no. 1, 2002, pp. 7-27.

6. F.R.E. Mauldon, A Study in Social Economics. The Hunter River Valley New South Wales, WEA NSW, Melbourne, 1927, pp. 164-5; D.P. Hampton, Retail Co-operatives in the Lower Hunter Valley, Newcastle Region Public Library, Newcastle, 1986, pp. 43, 45-48; Heaton, Modern Economic History, pp. 305-306; Lewis, A Middle Way, pp. 80-1,
199-203, 206; The Co-operative News (Hereafter CN), 1 November 1923, p. 6, 1 September 1929 p. 3, 1 April 1944, p. 18.

7. Markey, ‘New South Wales Trade Unions’, pp. 51-60; R.B. Walker, ‘The Ambiguous Experiment – Agricultural Co-operatives in New South Wales’, Labour History, no. 18, pp. 19-31.

8. Markey, ‘New South Wales Trade Unions’, p. 51.

9. Walker, ‘The Ambiguous Experiment’, pp. 26-27.

10. A. Salt, ‘Women on the Northern Coalfields of NSW’, Labour History, no. 48, pp. 44-53. For a discussion of the Kurri Kurri Co-operative during the 1930s Depression see Lewis, A Middle Way, p. 134.

11. P. Cochrane, ‘The Wonthaggi Coal Strike, 1934’, Labour History, no. 27, 1974, pp. 12-30; B. Ellem and J. Shields, ‘Making A ‘Union Town’: Class, Gender and Consumption in Inter-War Broken Hill, Labour History, no. 78, 2000,
pp. 116-140.

12. K. Buckley and T. Wheelwright, No Paradise for Workers. Capitalism and the Common and the Common People in Australia 1788-1914, Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 174; J. Child, Unionism and the Labor Movement, Macmillan, South Melbourne, 1971, p. 45.

13. R.W. Connell and T.H. Irving, Class Structure in Australian History. Poverty and Progress, 2nd ed., Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1992, pp. 128, 131.

14. V. Burgmann, ‘In Our Time’. Socialism and the Rise of Labor. 1885-1905, George Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1985;
B. Scates, A New Australia. Citizenship, Radicalism and the First Republic, Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, 1997.

15. E. Ross, A History of the Miners’ Federation of Australia, Australasian Coal and Shale Employees’ Federation, Sydney, 1970, pp. 45-6.

16. Eklund, ‘The ‘Anxious Class?’, p. 234.

17. N. Arrowsmith and R. Markey, ‘Co-operation in Australia and the Illawarra’, in R. Hood and R. Markey (eds.), Labour and Community. Proceedings of the Sixth National Conference of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Illawarra Branch, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Wollongong, 1999, pp. 201-205;
L. Blackley, ”You didn’t admit you were hard up’: Working Class Notions of Moral Community’ in Hood and Markey (eds.), Labour and Community, pp. 21-22; H. Lee, ‘Workforce and Community 1880-1904’ in J. Hagan and H. Lee (eds.), A History of Work & Community in Wollongong, Halstead Press, Rushcutters Bay, nd, pp. 70-75; J. McQuilton, ‘Community 1940-1980’, in Hagan and Lee (eds.), A History of Work & Community, pp. 147-149.

18. Arrowsmith and Markey, ‘Co-operation in Australia and the Illawarra’, p. 204.

19. Hampton, Retail Co-operatives, pp. 8, 31, 33, 43.

20. B. Kingston, Basket, Bag and Trolley: A History of Shopping in Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1994, pp. 32-33.

21. Ibid., pp. 32-33; K. Humphery, Shelf Life: Supermarkets and the Changing Cultures of Consumption, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1998, p. 51; G. Reekie, Temptations: Sex, Selling and the Department Store, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1993, p. 124. CN, 1 October 1925, p. 5; 1 August 1928, p. 4.

22. CN, 1 April 1944, p. 17.

23. Entwisle, The Jubilee Co-operative Handbook of NSW, pp. 87-88; Heaton, Modern Economic History, pp. 295-308; Lewis, A Middle Way, p. 134; Mauldon, A Study in Social Economics, pp. 164-169; W.K. McConnell, ‘Consumers’
Co-operation in New South Wales’, The Economic Record, vol. v, no. 9, 1929, pp. 263-274.

24. Lithgow Co-operative Society Research Group, The Life and Times of the Lithgow Co-operative Society. A Social and Industrial History 1891-1980, Lithgow Co-operative Society Research Group, Lithgow, 2001, pp. 52, 64, 97, 185; W. Robinson, Fifty years history of the Kurri Kurri Co-operative Society Ltd. 1904-1954, Kurri Kurri Co-operative Society Ltd., Kurri Kurri, 1954; F.B. Shortland, Twenty five years’ history of the Kurri Kurri Co-operative Society Ltd. 1904-1929, Kurri Kurri Co-operative Society Ltd., Kurri Kurri, 1929; CN, September 1921, pp. 1-2.

25. Lewis, A Middle Way, p. xvii.

26. Ross, A History of the Miners’ Federation, p. 46.

27. Heaton, Modern Economic History, p. 297; Lewis, A Middle Way, pp. 190, 201, CN, 1 October 1941, p. 7; 1 November 1953, p. 4.

28. Hampton, Retail Co-operatives, p. 20; Lithgow Co-operative Society Committee Minutes, 14 April 1925. Lithgow City Library (hereafter LCL); Lithgow Co-operative Society Research Group, The Life and Times, p. 27.

29. CN, 1 March 1947, p. 31.

30. CN, 1 April 1924, p. 2; Lithgow Co-operative Society Research Group, The Life and Times, p. 247; G. Patmore, ‘Localism and Labour: Lithgow 1869-1932’, Labour History, no. 78, 2000, pp. 54-55.

31. CN, 1 May 1946, p. 12; Lewis, A Middle Way, pp. 105-6, 198, 234-5; H. Radi, P. Spearitt and E. Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970, ANU Press, Canberra, 1979, p. 21.

32. Lewis, A Middle Way, pp. 108-109, 137,170-1; Lithgow Co-operative Society, Report of the Secretary to the President and the Board of Directors, 4 January 1932, 8 August 1932. LCL.