Linda Chew, one of the founders of the Midlands Co-operative History Group, will be sharing her passion for local history at the next Community Market with a display of information and old photographs of the area, as well as a 1/12th scale model TASCOS shop, set in 1953.
The group was set up in 1990 to research the history of the Co-operative Society, and the many legacies they have left in Birmingham over the years.
Stirchley plays an important part of this regional history. In 1875, a group of local men formed the Ten Acres & Stirchley Street Co-operative Society, later to be known by the acronym TASCOS. By 1914, the society had 12 branches and had spread as far as Bromsgrove, absorbing the Aston Fields Society. At its height, TASCOS had over 50 branches, its own dairy, bakery, laundry, coal wharf, works dept, funeral home etc. It was an independent society, which in 1971, merged with the Birmingham Society.
Many of the Co-op’s great buildings remain standing today (although many are no longer co-op stores). In fact, the inspiration for the Community Market’s own logo came from the brickwork of 1399 Pershore Road: a stone reading ‘The Central Bakery, 1891’, where a Co-op bakery once operated (see picture below). Sadly, the glorious former Co-op building in Stirchley (TASCOS branch number one) was replaced in the latter half of last century by the superstore we see today.
Linda Chew explains: ”My interest in the Co-op began some years ago after reading a book called ‘Seventy Five Years of Co-operative Endeavour’ by Harry Vickrage. This is the story of the Ten Acres and Stirchley Co-operative Society (TASCOS). It seemed important to find out what had happened to their lovely buildings. My son Duncan and I spent many a happy hour on the streets of South Birmingham, book and A to Z in hand! We managed to produce a photocopied booklet called ‘TASCOS Past and Present’ which, although not of brilliant quality, served to revive some interest. This eventually led to the formation of the Co-op History Group. “
Anyone interested in joining Midlands Co-operative Society (of which the History Group is a part), requiring more information on its activities or wishing to learn about the history of the Co-operative Movement should contact the Member Relations Office at the BMI, Margaret Street, Birmingham B3 3BS. Tel 0121 233 1545 or via the website www.midlandsco-op.com. More information is also available on http://www.madeinbirmingham.org/coop.htm.
If you have any information about the Birmingham Co-op, including TASCOS, or your memories of the Co-op, either working there, shopping there or buying their products, then please get in touch with the History Society, or come and speak to Linda at the next Community Market.
A more detailed history can be found in the following publications:
75 Years of Co-operative Endeavour by Harry M Vickrage
History of the Birmingham Co-operative Society Ltd 1881-1931
The Co-op in Birmingham by Linda and Anthony Chew
The Co-op in Birmingham and the Black Country by Ned Williams