Giving power to the people

HM Submarine  P556  is berthed at (as it was then ) Fort Blockhouse. Wrens are pushing the torpedo. (Mike Nolan coll.)

NOSTALGIA: Wrens show the boys how to do it

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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.