Huthwaite CWS

There had certainly been a marked growth in the working population throughout the 19th century, and that was not all down to migrant families seeking work here among the older coal pits. FrameWork Knitting machines were believed to have been introduced to our Sutton-in-Ashfield parish through latter decades of the 1700's. They'd offered mass employment to support a general population growth across many Midland counties. By around the mid 19th century, Nottinghamshire may arguably have claimed the biggest usage, whilst our Sutton parish employed the largest number of machines beyond its city centre. Exposed in early Huthwaite census is common occupation abbreviated FWK when still greatly sharing tied town dependancy manufacturing woollen hose. Added to those were supporting trades from needle makers to framesmiths.

Sutton itself soon afforded several large powered factories for manufacturing a diversity of textiles. Adapting to changing fashions, they slowly replaced the large cottage industry of Framework Knitters, whereas the dwindling number of reliant workers in Hucknall Huthwaite not only became largely centralised into just one small Factory Yard, but also vastly outnumbered by a mass influx of mine workers attracted to our new pit.

As a result of those previous century industrial advancements leading towards a rapid Hucknall Huthwaite population expansion, it was recognised this village had little alternative industry in which to readily employ school leavers. Young women were particularly effected, especially through years before any district public transport. Urban District Councillors had other matters to consider, and would undoubtedly welcome higher rates to cover all necessary modernisation. All of which boils down to justifying a reason why a local Unwin Land Society had publically offered one free acre of land - to attract some significantly sized new business.

The Co-operative Wholesale Society Limited

Attracting the attention of one of the biggest UK organisations must have been a major catch for the Unwin Land Society. References gained from a dated reported opening reflect they commenced negotiations with Co-operative Wholesale Society representatives through early months of 1906. Gifting one acre of land seems a somewhat trivial amount against their international enterprises. Nonetheless, it enticed, and was regarded as sweetening the deal when C.W.S. reached further agreement to purchase another 1½ acres in order to erect a considerable sized factory.1907 Annual

Reportage barely gives mention to this areas past renown among the stockinger cottage industry. I'm sure historic repute played no small part influencing the CWS into relocating an existing factory here. Early Stockingers were sometimes given Manorial subsidies just to keep whole families gainly occupied. A comparatively low income district must be one plus factor any major employer considers. Above all however, may well be the workers skilled repute. In our case that was proudly inherited from desperate dependency, to assert recognition for Huthwaite alongside Sutton as widely known leading places for producing quality hosiery plus textiles. Our CWS factory ended up just one well recognised brand name to have built on and further modernised that long association producing hosiery.

A Co-operative movement had been pioneered in Rochdale back in 1844. Some twenty years later and an originally named North of England Co-Operative Wholesale Society launched 300 individual enterprises across Yorkshire and Lancashire. Beginning in 1863 from modest premises in Manchester is how that city centre became home base throughout its rapid growth wider afield. Reflecting broader interests from 1872, the title was somewhat shortened to become the Co-operative Wholesale Society. Perhaps best known as C.W.S., these initials gained sufficient familiarity for long branding the companies diverse range of goods.

1863 LogoThe first registered trademark of the CWS was its original logo. This aimed to convey message that whereas a single stalk of wheat may easily be broken, their wheatsheaf symbolised company strength in unity. Wording across a shovel and sickle delivers 1863 Logoclear message to "Labor and Wait". But in a deliberate choice to use American spelling in times of US Civil War lay another statement, demonstrating support to abolish slavery.

Having started out as a united cooperative of local cooperatives, an updated logo found embossed on CWS annual reports showed the further joining of a Scottish CWS (SCWS) dating from 1868.

After spanning 150 years, the company can proudly boast a fuller detailed history of major acquisitions and mergers. The UK CWS brand ultimately merged with Co-Operative Retail Services in year 2000, following which recognises all their modern services and local outlets renamed under the Co-operative Group.


Written 28 Jun 14 Revised 29 Jun 14 © by Gary Elliott