A Romance of Co-operation

  • Theme - Local Industry
  • Year - 1941
  • Location - Peterborough
  • Filmmaker - E. Yospa


This film, produced in 1941 by the Worker’s Film Association, records the work of the Peterborough and District Co-operative Society. Despite the threat of World War II, Joseph Reeves, the film’s compelling commentator, describes the story of the Co-operative as a ‘romance’.
The PDC prided themselves in offering a personal, high-quality service to their customers, or ‘members’. This film-clip promoted the Co-operative’s local delivery services; members could sign up to have fresh bread and milk delivered to their door each morning. The bread was produced locally – we are told that the Co-operative produced an average of 152,000 loaves a week – and the milk was sourced from local farms in Yaxley and Graffham. The Co-operative had a fleet of lorries for their deliveries and covered an area of, “many hundreds of square miles”. As well as running a reputable home delivery service, the Co-operative also provided it’s clientele with, “many handsome and up to date branches, conveniently placed for members.”
The PDC had plenty of shops to supply their members needs, but it also spent up to £1,200 a year on cultural activities, providing educational classes for children and employees, sponsoring a number of junior choirs as well as the publication of a regional newspaper, ‘The Peterborough Co-operative’. In keeping with it's ethos, the surplus profits made by the Co-operative each year is paid back to members as annual dividends.

The co-operative movement has always aimed to provide a democratic service for its members, rather than trading for profit and self-gain. The first popular retail co-operative was established by the Rochdale Pioneers, in 1844. The PDC was first founded in 1876, as the Peterborough Equitable Industrial Co-operative Society. It gradually absorbed a number of other local societies, including Oundle, Huntingdon and King’s Lynn and later became the Greater Peterborough Regional Co-operative Society.


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