History Index     Sheerness     20th June 1999

Although the name Co-operative Society was coined by weavers in Rochdale, the basic principles of the movement were developed by dockers in Sheerness some 30 years before the Rochdale society began.

Blue Town had a particularly bad reputation even as a naval town. Possibly because it was built on an island basic supplies were particularly hard to get. Even the water supply was dependent on boats from Chatham. Without some form of self help, conditions in Sheerness would have become intolerable for the dockyard workers.

The Coop dominated Sheerness into the 1970s when it began to close its department stores and sadly reminders of the mark the movement made on the local people are disappearing. However the first site bought in 1816 still bears reminders of the original Economical Society.

The two papers included here give more information on the history of the movement in general on the island.

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