ArtZone Co-Op

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By Industry Ever Stronger - Enfield Council raises the Co-op Flag

The London Borough of Enfield Council celebrated “Co-op Day 2013” by flying the co-op “Rainbow and Doves” flag at their Town Hall in Silver Street. This year ‘International Co-op Day’ took place on Saturday July 6, following “Co-op Fortnight” - a time when events are held throughout the UK to raise people’s awareness about their local co-operative businesses and co-op history.

Enfield has a proud history - the co-op one all started in 1872 when mechanics at the Royal Small Arms Factory who, unhappy about their poor working conditions and low wages, took action by setting up the ‘Enfield Highway Co-operative Society’. This move led to a blossoming of Co-operative businesses being established to improve the lives of everyone living and working in Enfield’s industrialised area that stretched along the River Lea and towards St Albans.

By the mid 1930s the borough was brimming with co-op shops and businesses which included farms, a boot and shoe repair factory, bread and coal depots, plant nursery, and at it’s height - 6 departmental stores. It wasn’t all work though - during the summer months the annual Co-op “Fete and Gala” would take place in local parks - where local people could enjoy picnics, music, crowning the “Co-op Queen”, and tasting co-op produce.

The modern day Co-operative Group is an international family - and despite the rise of the mighty commercial supermarkets the Co-op Group has become a world player in providing goods and services as well as diversifying into banking and housing. Most importantly it still adheres to its founding principles of democratic organisation which champions social and economic equality for everyone.

Although many of the Co-op stores in Enfield have since been replaced by the big supermarket chains there is still a strong co-operative ethos in Enfield - illustrated by a rainbow flag flying over the local Town Hall.