Giving power to the people

Opening of the new school by the home secretary in October 1927. The headmaster, Canon Barton, is on the lowest step, on the left. Dorothea Barton is possibly there, somewhere. (PGS Archive)

NOSTALGIA: A red bluestocking at Portsmouth Grammar School

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What is believed to have been the first co-operative society in Britain was set up in Portsmouth in 1796 by dockyard workers fed up with being ripped off by local tradesmen.

The aim of the early co-operators was to offer an alternative by organising and controlling production and distribution of goods and services under a system operated by and for the people.

The Portsea Island co-operative was set up by a handful of volunteers in a rented corner shop in Charles Street, Landport, on this day in 1873.

The shop was only open on Friday and Saturday evenings, but the white-aproned co-operators did a brisk business.

Five years later they moved into purpose-built premises in Besant Road and by the late 1880s an impressive department store had been established in Fratton Road with grocery, boots, drapery and bakery departments and stables – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.