A history of the Co-op was given at the latest Willow Club meeting.
Bill Saunders talked about how the Co-ops in North Shields and Whitley Bay are descended from the Fenwick Weavers, who in 1761 promised to be honest and faithful to each other when bulk buying.
The father of the Co-operative movement was Robert Owen, a wealthy mill owner and advocate for the working class.
The co-operatives dominated retailing in the high streets, with the dividend a popular way of saving.
They made clothing, flour, boots, saving banks, newspapers, insurance, cinemas, they arranged funerals, and had a convalescent home.
Today, little is left of the Co-op empire.
The Willow Club meets each Thursday, between 10.30am and noon, in the Wesley Hall, St John’s Church, Ilfracombe Gardens, Whitley Bay, to listen to an invited speaker. The club is open to all retired men.