The Meeting Rooms Above The Shop

( the last remaining Co-op Rooms in the United Co-op Area in 2006 ) In the years between the two world wars Manchester Corporation ( now Manchester City Council ) embarked on a massive house building programme. Part of this programme was building the Barlow Moor Estate (now called The Merseybank Estate).

Store Opens 1929
Those years also saw an expansion by the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-operative Society opening new stores to serve the new estates. These were the days when people walked to the shops so a new store was needed for the potential new customers on the Barlow Moor Estate. The opening of the Hardy Lane store, though the actual address is 349 - 351 Barlow Moor Road, was on 23 November 1929. It was the 80th grocery branch, and like most of the new purpose built stores it continued the tradition of having a meeting room above the shop. “As if in full agreement with the importance of the event the period of boisterous and stormy weather had a period of calm whilst Hardy Lane New Grocery and Butchery Premises were opened. The surrounding area is not yet fully developed, but already installed tenants in the new housing estate recognised the value of a branch of Manchester &Salford being placed in their midst. and quite a large gathering had assembled when Mr. J.H. Codd, supported by Mr. G. Dillon, Mr. H.E. West (President), and other members of the Board, opened the proceedings as chairman.” Mr. Dillon was the actual opener, the assistants started serving straight away, whilst buses took the guests off to Didsbury Co-operative hall for tea and more speeches. Mr. H.E. West the President took charge of the proceedings. “In reviewing the developments of co-operation in the suburbs he indicated that in the Chorlton-cum-Hardy district they had three branches which were taking £1,561 weekly, and the success of their undertaking fully proved the wisdom of their policy of taking co-operation to the homes of the people. The branch opened that afternoon was the ninth opened during 1929, and when they realised that 105 new members had been made at the branch they could visualise a successful future for it.”. Mr. Rochell, the builder of the new

premises presented Mr. Dillon with a gold watch as a memento of the occasion. Other speakers were Mr. Black (Collyhurst) moving the vote of thanks said “it was a privilege to perform that duty; such gatherings were a stimulus and inspired a greater faith in their movement. Mrs. Ostler (Chorlton) seconded and revealed the fact she was a member of the Hulme Pioneers when they merged with M&S. She congratulated the Board and all concerned with the events of the day” M&S Co-Operative Herald Jan 1930 pg 6-9. One of the first groups to use the room was the Barlow Moor Mixed Guild. Such was the initial success in establishing a guild that later that year they switched venues to the larger hall of Christ Church on Princess Road for a time. Their banner used to hang in the main room until sometime in 1990's. It's probably now in the banner collection at the Pumphouse Museum, Manchester. Shops at the corner of Barlow Moor Road / Hardy Lane 1939 343 Draper : Jas.Wilson Phillips 345 Confectioner : Sidney Earle 347 Fruiterer : Chas. Holford 349-51 Manchester &Salford Co-op Kelly's Street Directory Manchester & Suburbs 1939 edition Over the years the meeting room has been used by countless local organisations, that have come and gone as membership & activity has waxed & waned. Now it is used mostly by the Woodcraft Folk, by the Co-operative Party, and occasionally by Chorlton Labour Party. In the past keep-fit groups, the British Federation of Young Co-operators, trade union branches have all met here. At General Election times it has been used exclusively as Committee Rooms for the Labour candidate. The store was modernised on self-service lines in 1959, and has since seen several refurbishments’ over the years. The livery and signage has changed over the years. Green and yellow Open-Later Saver (Norwest Pioneers Co-op), red and yellow colours of a Late Shop (United Norwest), currently in blue and white livery of most Co-op stores in the UK (United Coop).