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The Rushden Echo, 21st June, 1901, transcribed by Gill Hollis.
The Co-Operative Wholesale Society
The factory built in 1901
The factory before the larger offices were built

The Northampton Mercury, January 19th 1900

The chairman, who with Mr. Britten represented the society at the Co-operative Wholesale Society quarterly meeting, gave a report of the proceedings. The CWS, he said, had purchased a factory and site at Rushden, in order to produce boots and shoes similar to those which at present they had to purchase in Northamptonshire. The chairman had always been led to believe that when the society opened a new shoe factory they would have selected Northampton, but the ….. of a Northampton site was in a minority and the Rushden proposed site was, with the recommendation of Mr. Butcher, manager of the society’s Wheatsheaf Works, Lancaster, to support it, carried by the meeting.

The New Factory In Rushden

Employment for 400 or 500 additional work-people will be provided in Rushden when the new factory, which is being erected for the Co-operative Wholesale Society, is finished.  Rushden people, therefore, are naturally manifesting the keenest interest in the progress of the building, which is now rapidly approaching completion.  The headquarters of the Co-operative Wholesale Society are in Balloon-street, Manchester, and its ramifications extend throughout the country, until it has become one of the most

Gigantic Commercial Concerns

in the kingdom.  The articles manufactured by the society include almost every household requirement, such, for instance, as groceries, drapery, clothing, boots and shoes, brushes, jams, and many et ceteras.   In fact, they make nearly everything which is required by the various co-operative distributive stores throughout the country.  Naturally the manufacture of foot-wear plays an important part in the society’s business, and in various parts of the country they have boot and shoe factories to meet the demand, the most suitable centres being chosen for special kinds of goods.  For instance, the society have extensive works at Leicester for the manufacture of women’s boots.

The Factory At Rushden

will be devoted to the making of men’s boots and shoes, Rushden having been selected as the site for the new works mainly on account of the fact that the labour for this class of goods is chiefly to be found in this district.  As to the quality of the work to be turned out, it will be of a high-class character, as the society decline to dabble in inferior stuff and guarantee the quality of all the goods they make. 

Details regarding the new premises will be welcome to our readers.  The site comprises various plots of ground situated at the corner of Portland-road and Rectory-road, and includes the factory formerly occupied by Mr. Brown.  That factory has been allowed to remain, with sundry alterations, and the new premises are being erected adjacent to it.  The plans were prepared by the society’s own architect, Mr. E.F.L. Harris, F.R.I.B.A., of Balloon-street, Manchester, and Mr. T. Swindall, of Moor-road and Station-road, Rushden, secured the contract.

The Main Building

Plan of the drainage sytsem
This plan of the drainage at the factory was discovered inside the now derelict Allebone's Factory. (2007)
comprises two storeys, the size of the rooms being 110 feet by 86 feet.  That ample air space has been allowed will be seen by the fact that the room on the ground floor is about 14 feet high and that the upstairs room is from 25 to 30 feet high.  There will be abundance of space for every worker, and from every point of view the new shop will be one of the healthiest in the country.  No money has been spared to secure a building which shall be of the most up-to-date character and to provide premises where the work can be done under the healthiest and most desirable conditions.  An as instance, we may mention the fact that all the inside walls are of white enamelled bricks, which give a very light and pleasing appearance to the workshop.  The whole of the open span roofs are painted white, and the iron work is of a light blue colour, the two colours producing

A Most Artistic Effect.

All the woodwork partitions, &c., will be stained and varnished.  One noticeable feature is that there are plenty of exits in case of fire, including stone steps and iron staircases.  The top floor is laid with 2 ½  inch planking, covered with maple boards an inch thick.  A north light has been secured from the roof, so that there will be no risk of the workshop becoming unbearably hot in the summer time.  During the cold weather the premises will be warmed by means of an effective hot air apparatus, and in the warm weather the same apparatus will provide an ample supply of cool air.

Gas will be the motive power used, and two enormous engines of 56 horse-power each are being put in.  The society are putting down their own plant for making gas for the engines, and they are also having their own dynamo for

Electric Lighting,

The packing department
Inside the packing department
which will be laid on throughout the premises, another proof that the shop will be one of the most convenient and up-to-date factories in the country.

In a concern of such large dimensions there will of necessity be a vast amount of clerical work, and for this purpose offices are being provided both upstairs and down.  The entrance to the offices will be from the Portland-road.  The girls’ workrooms are partitioned off from the main department, and the architect has thoughtfully provided separate entrances for the girls, by means of an iron staircase at the east end of the building, and leading into Portland-road.  The workmen’s entrance will be through the yard opening out into Rectory-road.

Another point worthy of note is that the machinery which is being put down is the very best that can be obtained,  the society having almost

Unlimited Financial Resources,

and they will thus be able to produce goods under the most favourable conditions. 

Most of the workmen, we presume, will have to be imported into the town, and it is worthy of note that at the society’s various manufactories the men can depend upon having constant work all the year round, as the goods made are for the co-operative stores throughout the country. This fact also secures another very desirable result, namely, that there is absolutely no danger whatever of the society making bad debts, while commercial failure is an impossibility.  The society, in short, are practically engaged in making goods for their own shareholders.

On account of the town water supply being so inadequate, provision has been made for the storage, in large tanks, of all the rain water from the roofs, so that the town supply will not be used except for drinking purposes.  The sanitary arrangements throughout are of a most complete character.

In addition to the ground on which the buildings stand, a good deal of the adjoining land has been purchased, so that there is plenty of room for

Further Developments

as required.  The present buildings practically cover about one-fourth of the site, so that the society have evidently no intention of allowing many years to elapse before extensions are made.  It is satisfactory to know that the buildings have been put up so far without accident of any kind.

The total cost of the buildings will be, in round figures, somewhere about £20,000.  Mr. E. Vickers of Manchester, has acted as clerk of the works, and he has carried out the responsible duties of the office in a most competent manner.

It is expected that the factory will be opened during the month of August. As soon as everything is ready the premises will be opened to the public so that the inhabitants of Rushden will have an opportunity of inspecting one of the best factories ever erected in Northamptonshire. 

The Rushden Echo, 11th October, 1901, transcribed by Gill Hollis.

Rushden’s Newest Factory

The Co-Operative Wholesale Society’s Premises - Formal Opening

Co-Operative Leaders On Co-Operative Labour.

Rushden was invaded on Wednesday by leading Co-operators from all parts of the country, the occasion of the visit of these gentlemen being the formal opening of the boot and shoe factory just erected in Rushden by the Co-operative Wholesale Society – popularly known as the C.W.S.   The new factory occupies an extensive site at the corner of Rectory-road and Portland-road, and will be used for the manufacture of a high-class of boots and shoes for men’s wear.  In the Rushden Echo for June 21st appeared a detailed description of the premises, accompanied by an illustration of the factory as it appears from Rectory-road.  We need now therefore do no more than briefly state that employment will be found for

400 or 500 Hands

when the place is in full working order.  The factory which was formerly occupied by Mr. Brown in Portland-road was purchased and has been kept intact, and adjacent to it has been erected spacious and convenient premises.  The main building – which is entirely new – comprises two storeys, the size of the rooms being 110 feet by 86 feet.  Ample air space is provided, the room on the ground floor being about 14 feet high and the upstairs room from 23 to 30 feet high.

The total cost of the works is about £20,000, and the plans were prepared by the C.W.S. architect, Mr. Harris, F.R.I.B.A., of Balloon-street, Manchester.  Mr. T. Swindall, of Rushden, is the builder, and he has done the work in a most praiseworthy manner.  The machinery is all thoroughly up-to-date, and is worked by two engines each of 56 horse-power.  The factory is one of the healthiest, brightest, and most convenient in Northamptonshire, and the workers will labour under the best possible conditions.  The plumbing work was executed by Mr. G. Fountain.  

On the opening day
On the opening day

CWS Boot label boot works coin coin worth 9d
CWS Boot label
Co-op Boot Works coin

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