NOSTALGIA: The establishment of the Abersychan Co-operative

ONE HUNDRED years ago, local valley residents would have been heading to their local Co-Op Stores to buy those little treats and presents for their families for Christmas. The Co-Operative movement started throughout the UK in the 1840s with the first Society Shop opening in Rochdale, Lancashire in 1844. This ‘Dividend System’ of shop provision was much different from the older Truck Shop system (where the bosses and owners of the factories or mines kept all the profit from the purchasing power of their workers) as the Co-op schemes were designed so that the shop profits were re-distributed to the customers.

The establishment of a Co-Operative store at Abersychan was first suggested by Edward Jones of Snatchwood Park in an 1889 speech he gave the local Workingmen’s Society. The suggestion was quickly acted upon with the first meeting taking place in October of that year at 2 Old Lion Terrace. The name decided upon at that meeting was the ‘Abersychan, British & Talywain Industrial Co-Operative Society’ and a full Committee was established in January 1890.

(The Co-Operative store at Abersychan was established in January 1890. Picture: Torfaen Museum) In 1896, the Stores moved out of their temporary housing and into the purpose built building in High Street, Abersychan.

The following year, a bakery was built and established which, in its heyday of the early 20th century, was baking over 10,000 loaves per week.

In the early twentieth century the Society changed its name to the ‘Abersychan & Pontypool District Co-Operative Society Ltd’ and had other branches at Harpers Road in Garndiffaith, Victoria Village, Cwmffrwdoer and Talywain.

Nostalgia is provided by Torfaen Museum.

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