Special blue plaque unveiled at Derby’s Central Hall building to mark the city’s historic links to the co-operative movement

A ceremony has been held today at Derby’s Central Hall building to unveil a special blue plaque which recognises the formation of one of the country’s very first Co-ops almost 170 years ago.

A range of local dignitaries, including Central England Co-operative President Elaine Dean, Mayor of the City of Derby Councillor Mike Carr and MP for Derby South Dame Margaret Beckett, were all among the invited guests for the celebrations on Monday (11 February).

The unveiling of the plaque was organised by the Derby Co-op History Group, through the Membership & Community Council at Central England Co-op, with the plaque marking the beginnings of the ‘Derby Co-operative and Provident Society’ in the city in 1850 when members raised £2 to purchase groceries and second-hand scales to open their first store in a hayloft at George Yard, off Sadler Gate, Derby.

The Society moved to Albert Street, Derby, in 1868 before relocating again to Central Hall in East Street in 1917 - which is where the blue plaque now stands.

Today, Derby Co-operative and Provident Society is part of Central England Co-operative which employs over 8,000 staff and has over 400 trading outlets across 16 counties, and the Society’s President Elaine Dean told the guests she was ‘honoured’ to unveil the plaque.

She said: “I was extremely honoured to be invited along to unveil the plaque in Derby. As a Society we are always proud to celebrate our history and our heritage and we are pleased to be able to acknowledge the role that Derby Co-operative played in the area and the co-operative movement as a whole.”

The Derby Co-op was founded in 1850 by a group of 12 carpenters and joiners – George Allen, John Aslin, James Cooper, William Corner, Jonathan Henderson, William Johnson, Samuel Leam, Robert Riley, Thomas Rushton Brown, Samuel Smith, James Walker and Thomas Whittle.

Tanya Noon, Member and Community Relations Officer at Central England Co-op, said: “The city of Derby has an historic association to the Co-operative movement and Derby Co-op was in fact one of the first of its kind in England.

“The Society grew exponentially over the years from its humble beginnings in a hayloft, from the opening of its first bakery in Monk Street, Derby, in 1874, its first dairy at Spondon in 1894, to becoming part of Midlands Co-operative and now Central England Co-operative, as it is today.

“The Co-op has been a part of many people’s lives in Derby for decades and I’m sure there are many ancestors of those 12 pioneers who formed the Society still living in the city.

“Therefore we were delighted to support the Derby Co-op History Group to unveil a blue plaque to recognise the significant role the City and Central Hall itself, played in the co-operative movement we know today.”


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK. 

It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, travel shops, and property investment.

Central England Co-operative has over 400 trading outlets across 16 counties including; West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.  The Society has an ambitious food store development programme for 2019.

Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.  It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence.  The Society supports a number of charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.

Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to members activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.

Find out how to become a Central England Co-operative member by calling 0800 0501 601, emailing members@centralengland.coop or visiting https://www.members.coop

For more information visit www.centralengland.coop, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, and on Facebook: facebook.com/centralenglandcooperative

Rob Smyth and James Brindle at Central England Co-operative on 01543 421390

Email – publicrelations@centralengland.coop