The neighbourhood co-op store was an essential element in the English shopping landscape for a century and more. Initially identified by the iconic co-operative symbols of beehives and wheatsheaves, eclectic store designs by local architects made a lasting impact on the townscape. Robustly independent local co-operative societies and lack of overall branding happily produced an unusually diverse range of architectural styles. And they were much more than just shops – their integrated educational facilities, libraries and halls made them a focal point for communities. The Co-op eventually offered a ‘cradle to grave’ service for its members. Behind the network of stores was the Co-operative Wholesale Society, the federal body responsible for manufacturing and distribution. Its factories employed thousands during the productive peak of the 1930s, and its architects brought modern design standards to bear on the whole gamut of co-op buildings. Co-op architecture is still around us countrywide, with everything from Victorian edifices to post-war artworks there to be seen and enjoyed. Using a wonderful selection of archive and modern illustrations, this book reveals the intriguing story behind the co-op’s buildings, from corner shops to vast department stores and innovative industrial structures. Remember, it’s all at the co-op now!
'Accessible in style and timely in its publication, England’s Co-operative Movement reflects not just academic interest in the subject but public enthusiasm for twentieth-century architecture. [...] Taking a chronological approach from the pioneering retail societies of the 1840s to the present day, [Lynn Pearson] presents a richly illustrated guide which contextualises buildings in relation to the expansion and changing functions of the co-operative movement.'Natalie Bradbury, Co-op News
'There were many buildings which were new to me in this book, which surveys the history and development of co-operative architecture, from shops and department stores to bakeries, warehouses, laundries and even mobile shops. In addition, a wealth of archival material [...] offers a rare glimpse at those premises which have been demolished or changed beyond all recognition (or in some cases never made it beyond plans and drawings).'Manchester Review of Books
'Pearson’s book provides an eminently readable account, the first of its kind in single book form, of the clear links between architectural and social change expressed in the development of the co-operative movement’s diverse buildings.'Nicholas Doggett, Context
Winner of the Association for Industrial Archaeology's Peter Neaverson Award for Outstanding Scholarship 2021
‘Pearson has produced an expansive, chronologically arranged historical survey, broken down by broad building types (retail and industrial), then further subdivided, and as a general survey it is unlikely ever to be bettered... Pearson’s book must be welcomed as the starting point for all future researchers. To unravel such a complex subject is almost as heroic an undertaking as the Co-operative movement itself.’
Julian Holder, Architectural History