|Langley Park Co-Op somewhere between 1877-1920|
If there is one thing more than any other which has distinguished the management of Annfield Plain Society and made its history so vastly different from the society from which it was an offshoot, it is the anticipation with which favourable places for branch premises have been scented and the readiness with which branch buildings have been erected to meet the trading requirements of districts which are in some instances so far from the Central Premises as to be thought almost remote.
The question as to whether these branches are to be justified from every standpoint is not for us to deterÂmine, but if viewed from a business point of view with Annfield Plain as a view point, every branch has been a decided success.
Before proceeding to make specific reference to each branch it is to be observed that all the districts in which the branches exist are of a similar character in industry and domestic requirements to those existing in the area catered for by the Central Society. This in itself is one justification for district supply from a central source. The Society entered upon, the branch policy very early in its history.
At the quarterly meeting held on April 7th, 1877. it was resolved on the motion of John Fairbairne and seconded by R. Furnace, ” that we open a branch store at Langley Park, and that the arrangements be left in the hands of the Committee at Annfield Plain.”
The committee then proceeded to make the necessary arrangements. A shop was rented from a Mr. Foster, Mr. George Ritchie was appointed to manage the branch, and the balance sheet for the quarter ending September, 1877, shows the amount of Â£5. 2s. for rent of branch premises; the sum varied in succeeding quarters, reaching as far as Â£9 per quarter. The sales for the first quarter amounted to Â£566. 15s. 2d., the wages paid were Â£24, and the stock held was Â£192. 11s. 5d. The rate of working expenses was 1s. 2Â¼d. Per Â£.
The quaint method the early workers had was seldom varied, and in connection with the opening of this branch they revealed their habitual seriousness in making arrangements, including a great amount of detail. It was resolved that a new horse be got, and it must come to be seen by the committee and be approved by them, and the old horse was to go to Langley Park.
It was also agreed in October, 1877, that the rent of the house of the manager of the branch be paid by the Society, and that Miss Ritchie be engaged to assist in the business at Langley Park.
It was in the branch premises thus tenanted that the Society carried on its business until the erection of branch premises, which were opened in the year :1884 at which period the trade had reached Â£5,831 per quarter, making this branch a good second to the Central Stores. The photograph on page 56A shows the branch premises in general structure as first erected, for it is also to be noted that in October, 1893, a fire occurred on the premises, incurring certain damage to the building and to stock. The building and fixed stock and rolling stock at that time were of the value of over Â£6,000 with stocks considerably over Â£2,000.
The damage caused by the fire, however, was surÂprisingly low compared with what it might have been to a building and stocks of such value in a district where effective appliances in case of fire would not be easily available. The damage assessed and agreed upon to the satisfaction of the Society amounted to Â£1,075. The committee made special reference, in their report to the members, to Mr. Slee (insurance agent) for the prompt and straightforward business treatment of their claim, and also to Mr. A. Brown (manager) for assessing the value of stocks, and to Mr. Smith (architect) for assessing the damage to buildings.
The volume of the Society’s trade at this branch was very little interrupted by the fire, although considerable inconvenience would be caused to those responsible for carrying on that business, and much extra labour incurred. The business at this branch continued to increase, and the trade there at the present time comprises grocery and provisions, drapery, milÂlinery, furnishing and hardware, butchering, tailoring, chemist, confectionery, greengrocery, and boot repairing.
There has been a desire on the part of some of the members trading at this branch to have it constituted an independent store, and efforts have been made to bring this to pass; but whatever support may have been possible so far as the Langley Park section was concerned, it is evident that the Society as a whole has not at any time given its sanction to such a course, and possibly the idea of a separate and independent Society for this or any other of the branches is less practicable today than at those times when it was most sought after. It will be of interest to the reader to observe the trade record of this branch from its commencement, which must be taken as a very satisfactory one.