The Co-operative Society
'The Co-op was the first shop to open with a manager.'
John Satterly, Memories of Ashburton in Late Victorian Days, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol 84, 1952, p31
Above: The Co-operative store, no. 8, North Street.
From my own collection

1904. A public meeting was held in the Market Hall in October, to explain the principles of the Co-operative movement.
Brixham Western Guardian 27 October 1904, p8 col5

The children of Ashburton Co-operative Society members had their annual treat in August 1908. Carrying flags and banners, they assembled at the stores, and then formed a procession through the main streets of the town, headed by the Hele Band. After reaching the Recreation Ground they had 'a variety of amusements', followed by tea, sports and dancing.
Totnes Weekly Times 22 August 1908, p8 col6

49 year old William Swain was a baker and confectioner working at the Co-operative Society in 1911. William, his wife Amelia, two sons and three daughters were living at Fitzford, Ashburton.
1911 census RG14, registration district 272, sub district 4, piece number 12728, schedule 93

Pte Reg D Cockwill, aged 29, was killed in action in 1918. The son of Mr J D Cockwill, of Brooklands, Totnes, he was formerly the manager of the Ashburton Co-operative Society.
Western Morning News 13th April 1918, p3 col4

Kelly's Directory of Devon 1919 lists Ashburton Co-operative Ltd. in North Street, Ashburton.
Kelly's Directory of Devon 1919, p34
Special Collections University of Leicester - accessed 31-08-2022

In September 1919 Samuel Gayton purchased no. 13 East Street from Mr Frank J Badcock. Herbert Wilkinson Adams, the manager of the Grocery department of the Ashburton Co-operative Society, was a tenant in no. 13, and in April 1920 Mr Gayton, who wanted to occupy the house himself, took action to evict Mr Adams. Mr Gayton had offered immediate alternative accommodation, and at Newton County Court his case was upheld; the Judge dismissing a claim that the alternative accommodation was unsuitable. The Judge commented that some tenants thought they had as much right to a house as an owner, but this was never the intention of the relevant Act of Parliament. 'If they want a house, let them buy one.'
Brixham Western Guardian 22 April 1920, p4 col4

Left: Advertisement for the Co-operative Society, in a theatre programme for a production of Lilies of the Field in 1932
With many thanks to Ashburton Museum and Julia Homans

Right: Trade tokens, value 5/- [five shillings] and £1 
With many thanks to Ashburton Museum and Julia Homans

Frederick Thomas Lang, of Hilton Road, Newton Abbot, died in September 1937. Originally from Babbacombe, Mr Lang had been employed at the Newton Abbot and Ashburton Co-operative Societies' Bakeries.
Torquay Times and South Devon Advertiser, 1 October 1937, p12 col5

                                The more you BUY, the RICHER you die!
Above: Life assurance advertisement from the parish magazine of April 1938
With many thanks to Ashburton Museum and Julia Homans

Joseph C Wellington, of 8 North Street, was the general manager of the Ashburton Co-operative Society in 1939.
1939 register

John Hallett, of 9, West St., was a butchery manager in 1939. It is possible that he was then working for the Co-op (see Adrian Daw's memories below).
1939 register

Ashburton Co-operative Society offered 'Their enthusiastic support to Salute the Soldier Week' in 1944. They added that 'No national institution has a better record for National Savings than the Co-operative Movement'.
There was to be a grand parade at Ashburton on May 27th, with bands and detachments from all three services. The opening ceremony was to take place at the Bull Ring.
Brixham Western Guardian 25 May 1944, p2 col3,4

Sydney George Shepheard, aged 63, died in May 1949. A master at Ashburton County Primary School for over 40 years, for 39 years he was also secretary of the Ashburton Co-operative Society.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 27th May 1949, p7 col3

Mr Joseph Charles Wellington, of Barnstaple, died at the end of 1949, after being ill for several months. He had been manager of Barnstaple and District New Co-operative Society since 1942: before that he had been manager at Ashburton for ten years.
His funeral took place in Ashburton Methodist Church 

Western Times 6th January 1950, page 8 col5
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 13 January 1950, p7 col6

 A memorial to Elsie Wellington, who died in 1937, and Joseph Charles, who died aged 52, can be found in Ashburton churchyard. The inscription says that it was erected as a token of respect by the members of the Ashburton Co-operative Society.


Nominations for Devon County Council were being accepted in February 1946. Eli J Wellington proposed William Ewart, of 10, East End, Ashburton, Labour.
Brixham Western Guardian, 21 February 1946, p1 col2

 A report on the Ale Tasting in Ashburton in 1946 mentions E J Wellington as a viewer of the markets.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 2 August 1946, p6 col6
See the 1950s section of the Virtual Museum for a reference for Mrs E D Bligh from the Ashburton Co-operative Society. Dated April 1955, the Co-op at that time had departments at Nos. 8,19, 30 and 32 North St. The drapery department was at No. 8, and the regional office was at No. 19
The signature on the reference is difficult to read, but looks like Wellington.
Robin Bligh remembers Mr. Wellington, who was known as Boss Wellington, in the 1950s. 
It seems likely that Eli J Wellington and Boss Wellington were the same person, and also that Joseph Charles and Eli J[ohn] were brothers. The 1911 census for Cullompton has Joseph Charles, 14, and Eli John, 5, as sons of Frederick James Wellington.
1911 census RG 14, registration district 282, sub district 2, piece no. 13223

Right: Advertisement for the Ashburton Co-op in the Ashburton Guide.
Ashburton Official Guide, undated but between 1947 and 1952
From my own collection
'To the right of Globe Arch was a shop which became a bakers and opposite was the Co-op Butchers managed by Butcher Hallett.'
Adrian Daw

'The best delight of all was to watch the change canister whizz across the Ashburton Co-operative Store in North Street, on its track to the severe looking lady sitting high up in her glass box.'
Rachel Wood
For more of Adrian's and Rachel's memories see Growing Up in the 1950s in the Growing Up section
An article in the Torbay Express and South Devon Echo in December 1960 described how Charles Harding pursued many pastimes in spite of six operations failing to save his eyesight. Formerly a trainer and team manager for Ashburton Football Club, he attended every match, listening carefully to how the game was progressing. He said he had developed a sixth sense to tell exactly what was going on, and wrote a weekly report on the club's matches for the Herald Express. He said that he missed motor cycling and trials riding - he had at one time been a member of the West of England Motor Cycle Club. But he was still able to follow another favourite sport, boxing, by listening to boxing commentaries on the radio.
Charles [Charlie] had been the manager of the bakery section Ashburton Co-operative Society for 20 years before losing his sight.
Torbay Express and South Devon Echo, 1 December 1960, p5 col2
For more on the Co-op bakery see Bakers, under Banks and Businesses