| ALL OUR OWN WORK|
The co-operative pioneers of Hebden Bridge and their mill
by Andrew Bibby
Driven by a desire to create their own employment under their own control, weavers, cutters and machinists at the Nutclough fustian mill developed a successful business in a small Pennine town. At its peak it employed over 300 women and men. It ran for almost fifty years, each year profitable.
Creating a new way of working wasn't always easy. There were discussions about sharing the rewards of the business, and on how much power those who provided the capital should be given. How should governance be structured and what was appropriate management? Should the mill produce quality products or poorer goods that sold better?
Hebden Bridge's fustian co-operative contributed leaders to the national co-operative movement and to the emerging movement for workers' education. Its central figure Joseph Greenwood was involved in the creation of the International Co-operative Alliance. Women associated with the co-operative set up in Hebden Bridge the first branch of the Women's Co-operative Guild in the country.
This richly researched and engrossing account of a worker-run business is the first significant study of early producer co-operatives in Britain for over a century. The lessons learned in Hebden Bridge are still relevant today for all who seek to find new ways of working and alternative forms of business.
'Not just a readable and fascinating history, but a well timed account of dilemmas that new co-operatives still have to face
'Bibby is to be congratulated on providing a carefully researched, organized and contextualized history
' North West Labour History
Published June 2015