Newsletter of Blackshaw Environmental Action Team, BEAT (www.blackshawbeat.info). August 2017, Issue no 51
Many thanks to those who helped fill bags with woodchip on 9th July and to Mark and Phil for taking the bags to the community orchard. We now have to spread the woodchip around the fruit trees and the fruit bushes. We will do this on Sunday 20th August at 12 noon.
If you do not wish to lift bags of woodchip you can help removing weed around the fruit trees and bushes. There might even be some soft fruit for you to pick and take home.
If you want to give a hand for max an hour please come to the orchard, which is four minutes’ walk from the New Delight Inn past the red telephone box on the road. The more that turn up the quicker it goes. Please do not park on the road next to the community orchard.
New this year (2nd September 2017):
Ursula Holden Gill will be storytelling. This event is suitable for children and adults.
We found the tug of war cup and will be returning to the format of 8 person teams rather than the ‘all pile on’ method of recent years. There will also be a less formal childrens’ or ‘anyone passing at the time tug’ before the competitive pulling.
The provisional running order:
9 – 11.am Produce Competition : entry drop off Produce Tent
NB strictly no dogs allowed in Produce Tent due to hygiene regs
12.30pm BSH Fell Race : registration starts Fell Run Tent
1.30pm : Opening the Fete : Parish Council Chair
2pm Blackshaw Head Fell Race Fell Run Tent
2 – 2.20pm Punch & Judy Show Chapel Grounds
2 – 2.30pm Fun Dog Show : Registration Arena
2:30 – 3.30pm Ursula Holden Gill: Storytelling Storytelling
2.30 – 3.30pm Children’s Games Games Area
2.30 – 3.30pm Dog Agility Upper Field
2.45pm Fun Dog Show Arena
3.30pm Magic Show Chapel Grounds
3.30pm Fell Run Presentations Fell Race Tent
4pm Tug of War Competition Games Area
4.30pm Presentations & Raffle Draw Red Tent
Together We Grow and Calderdale Freedom from Torture are arranging a second Welcome Festival on Saturday 16th September at 1.30pm. It will be held at Central Methodist Church in Todmorden.
This year we have the following line-up: Women Asylum Seekers Together from Manchester - http://www.wast.org.uk/, two Syrian refugee singers and Anthony Brannick – a pianist.
There will be various activities for the children: face painting, arts & craft activities and a singing workshop for the 7 to12-year olds. The workshop will be run by two professional singers, Helen and Louise Curtis-Streich.
The mayor of Todmorden, Councillor Christine Potter, will be welcoming everyone. There will be stalls with information, a prayer room and first aid will be available by St John’s Ambulance. The sound system will be provided by Hebden Bridge Community PA and the lunch for the refugees by 3 Valley Vegans.
Please note the main hall can only take 150 people.
Entry to the festival is free as is coffee, tea, juice and cake but feel free to bring a cake to share. If you want to give a donation when you leave the festival you will be able to do so.
More information about the festival will be available at http://togetherwegrow2.org.uk/ and on Together We Grow’s Facebook page.
Green news Mother nature worth £177bn to UK, statisticians estimate (FT)
Pollution removal among a number of huge benefits to Britain from diverse ecosystems
Government's air quality plan branded inadequate by city leaders (Guardian)
The government’s new clean air plan has been branded inadequate by the leaders of eight heavily polluted cities, as campaigners said banning petrol and diesel cars from 2040 would not help the thousands dying each year from illnesses linked to toxic fumes.
Andrew Bibby: “All Our Own Work. The co-operative pioneers of Hebden Bridge and their mill.” Merlin Press 2015. 238 pages.
Andrew Bibby has written an excellent book on the start of the co-operative movement in Hebden Bridge. Throughout the book he puts it in a national and international framework and shows how Hebden Bridge inspired that movement and was itself affected by it.
Rochdale became known around the world as the birthplace of the co-operative movement. What they started there was a wholesale/retail co-op. Hebden Bridge was the birthplace of a very successful production co-op – in other words a co-op that produced things rather than selling others’ products. In a way, the Hebden Bridge experience was therefore just as important as the Rochdale one.
Bibby explains how the Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Co-operative Society Ltd grew from some humble beginnings in a small house to a large factory employing hundreds of people. The purpose of creating a co-op was to show an alternative to the exploitation of the workers which happened in the ordinary workshops owned by a private owner, to let the workers run their own factory, to create decent working conditions and to let labour employ capital rather than capital employ labour.
For many decades, the Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Co-operative Society was very successful in fulfilling that dream. The Co-op became a national inspiration for the setting up of other productive co-ops around the country, while at the same time the wholesale/retail co-ops also multiplied. Co-ops increasingly traded with each other, mainly between the production co-ops and the retail co-ops – a relationship that later would be problematic.
One of the reasons the Fustian Co-op became so successful was the leadership of its manager, Joseph Greenwood. The Co-op had as its membership not only the workers, but also the shareholders – which included some workers – and the retail co-ops that bought the products of the Hebden Bridge Co-op. Joseph Greenwood was able to navigate the sometimes-conflicting interests of these three types of membership.
One of the early conflicts of interest between the different types of membership was how to share the profit – what interest should be paid to shareholders, the workers and the retail shops. With profits of up to 10% per year the investors were initially paid 10% in interest and the workers none. Joseph Greenwood was eventually able to achieve a compromise where shareholders received 7.5% and the workers and the retail co-ops 5%. These percentages changed several times due to economic circumstances and the rise in trade union organisation.
Another surprising fact is that the board of the co-op had no representation from the workers, which during the First World War lead to a ‘them and us’ attitude between workers and management – similar to a private company. Women were also paid a lot less than the male workers – and usually did very different types of work to the men.
When World War One broke out the Hebden Bridge fustian co-op received a lot of orders from the government for the clothing of the soldiers. The war also saw an increase in inflation and the wages in both the private sector and in the co-op movement did not keep up with price rises. This led to strike actions, including across Hebden Bridge. Initially, the workers at the fustian co-op did not join the strike (‘why strike when you own your own company?’) but when management did not meet the workers’ demands the fustian workers also joined the strike – including the women.
The government felt it necessary to intervene in the strikes as it affected the war effort. However, when the government introduced uniform wage increases for different types of work this acted as an incentive for the workers to join trade unions. So ironically, government policies resulted in a massive growth of trade union organisation and power. This was also the case in the co-op movement, including in Hebden Bridge.
Another debate that took place within the co-op movement was whether the co-op’s responsibility was to its members or to the wider working class as well. Like, should some of the profit benefit workers that were not part of the co-op movement? After all, these workers usually did not have a choice on whether to work for a co-op or a private employer.
These and many other debates took place in the co-op movement’s weekly newspaper, at co-op national and international conferences and in various committees. Members of the Hebden Bridge Fustian Co-operative Society were very active at all levels in the co-op movement and in the trade union movement.
One important priority for the fustian co-op in Hebden Bridge was the education of workers, not only of the workers they employed but of all workers. The purpose was to teach the workers how to run their own businesses and how the wider economy worked. This was done through public meetings and summer schools where academics from Oxford University came to Hebden Bridge and gave lectures and workers from Hebden Bridge went to summer schools at Oxford University. Leaders of the co-op movement also gave lectures to audiences of several hundred workers.
The wholesale/retail wing of the co-op movement grew into a single company and started its own production factories and bought up existing co-op production factories. This led to some heated conflicts between the production co-ops, including the fustian co-op, and the wholesale co-op. In the end, even the fustian co-op in Hebden Bridge was bought up by the wholesale co-op.
There are a lot of lessons for today’s co-op movement from this first half century of co-ops. A constant tension has been the co-ops’ aims and how these fit in a capitalist economic system where the legal framework to a large extent is set by a government which usually does not have much interest in the co-operative model.
Never-the-less, the co-operatives still exist and in many forms. In fact, the sector is growing in numbers as seen in the mushrooming of community businesses. In Hebden Bridge, there are now 28 co-ops, not including the Co-op supermarket. Andrew Bibby’s book is an impressive piece of research into the early lessons of the co-operative movement that can help us today in creating a more sustainable economy and society.
If you live in the Hebden Bridge area Andrew’s book is available in the Book Case in Market Street in Hebden Bridge. Andrew Bibby is giving a talk to the Mytholmroyd Historical Society on the co-op on Friday March 9 2018.