New book sheds light on the history of co-ops in Chorley and its 19th century working class

John E. Harrison offers a comprehensive look at ‘Co-operation in Chorley 1830-1880’

CHORLEY, Lancashire, England – A fascination with the local history of Chorley, and the desire to address the knowledge gaps relating to the foundation of co-operatives within the district, led John E. Harrison to research and publish “Co-operation in Chorley 1830-1880” (published by Lulu).


The co-op business was the cornerstone of communities in 19th and 20th century Britain, with services impacting on members’ lives from the cradle to the grave. Much is known and has been written about successful retail co-operatives — particularly in Rochdale — but less is known about co-operatives that failed, producer co-operatives, and retail co-operatives and co-operative communities in Chorley. This, according to Harrison, is the reason for writing the reference book.


“Co-operation in Chorley 1830-1880” describes the foundation, operation and collapse of three different societies against the wider context of co-operative history in Lancashire and nationally. Here, the author examines how co-operation began in Chorley, who was involved, what happened and why it eventually failed while other co-operative societies in Lancashire and elsewhere thrived and prospered. The book tells the story of these societies in the context of the general development of co-operation and in the context of Chorley’s social, political and industrial development.


Harrison says, “In the 21st century for many people shopping at their local co-op convenience store, the original idealism of co-operation has been forgotten. My book will hopefully remind readers that that there have been, and still can be, alternatives to traditional capitalist ways of running businesses.”


“Co-operation in Chorley 1830-1880”

By John E. Harrison

Softcover | 6 x 9in | 174 pages | ISBN 9781684718597

E-Book | 174 pages | ISBN 9781684718580

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the Author

John E. Harrison has lived in Lancashire for over 50 years and, for most of that time, he has lived in Chorley. For more than a decade, he worked as a lecturer in further education before spending the rest of his career managing educational provision in local government. While in mid-career, he was fortunate to be able to study for a master’s degree and produced a thesis, “The Development of Medical Care and Public Health in Nineteenth Century Chorley.” Subsequently, local history research and writing had to be put on hold while the focus was on family and career. Since retiring, Harrison has been better able to pursue his passions of research/writing, as well as travelling, rambling, family history and music, and until finishing this book, the retirement highlight had been walking Wainwright’s coast to coast from St. Bees to Robin Hoods Bay

Editors Comment.


This book by John E. Harrison is just the sort of local study that is making local history prominent again in historical research. It is a short concise and well-presented little book which deals with three different cooperative ventures in Chorley in the nineteenth century. The text and layout are easy on the eye, the narrative runs smooth and the different cooperative undertakings are factual and well-supported with evidence. More work of this calibre and style no doubt enhances Lancastrian history. Well done John!

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