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My time at Rotherham Co-op

 David Adnitt apprentice in the garageI went to work at Rotherham Co-op in 1957 before the days of fork lift trucks and pallets.

Commodities like Heinz baked beans, soups and Cirio tomatoes came in bulk to the warehouse in cases of 500 and a thousand cans. At that time every single case was handled individually and stacked in blocks twenty or thirty feet high.

They don't know what it was like today. Nowadays everything is prepacked.

In those days bacon came on the decks of ships white with sea salt. I had to wash this off then cut the meat into hams, shoulders or middles. Sugar came in in 2cwt (224 pound) sacks and were stacked by two of us. They went to the shops like that and were weighed into pounds and bagged by the shopkeeper.

The top floor of the warehouse had tea, paper, bacon in a walk in fridge and cheese. Arnold Craggs was there at first then I took it.

The middle floor had sweets, biscuits, flour, pet foods, Heinz baby food, porridge oats, patent medicines and tobacco. There were over 50 shops in and around Rotherham ogether with a number of mobile vans. There was a block of shops on Main Street, Westgate, Market Street and also the coal business and furniture shop on Lincoln street.

Van lads, John Adnitt and ?

People who shopped at the co-op became members and had a personal number eg 4106 each time they shopped they collected a "dividend" against their number. This accumulated into cash they could withdraw.

I remember warning my aunt and uncle in 1958 that the co-op was going bust. They did not believe me and lost thousands in dividend owed to them.

What happened to that money?

There were strong rumours of internal fraud and theft - many thought that the committee who ran the business where responsible for them going into bankruptcy.

John Adnitt and Mick Cousins, Co-op van driver,  at Blackpool

E. J. Crossland, July, 2009


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