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The Questors with PlayBack


Music by Michel Duvoisin


The Questors Playhouse
May 1997

Directed by Kevin Madley
Designed by Chrystine Bennett
Lighting by Tim Hayward
Sound by Neil Pamment




Grace Craddock, Lisa Day, Janet Egan, Nathalie Fisk, Sibeal Mcguinne, Ken Ratcliffe, Mark Redrup, Byron Todd

Production Team:
Chrystine Bennett, Lisa Castle, Kris Collier, Michel Duvoisin, Anne Gilmour, Tim Hayward, Colin Horne, Kevin Madley, Kevin Mclean, Neil Pamment, Jennifer Reid, Adrienne Talbot


The Co-operative movement has its roots in the Lancashire textile town of Rochdale where, in 1844, harsh living conditions and poor consumer protection inspired 28 working men to develop a new approach to the supply of food and other goods, as well as the provision of social and educational facilities for ordinary working people. To do this they set up a Retail Co-operative Society — The Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society, by scraping together £28 and opening a shop in Toad Lane.

Here they sold wholesome, unadulterated food at reasonable prices. Any profit was returned to the purchasers in proportion to the amount that they spent — the "divi" as it became known.

From these early beginnings the principles of Co-operation were formulated and included:
* voluntary and open membership
* democratic control — one member one vote
* payment of limited interest on capital
* surplus allocated in proportion to members' purchases (the dividend)
* the provision of educational facilities for members and workers

The Rochdale Pioneers Society experienced difficulty in their early days in obtaining goods of the standard they required from private wholesalers. This led to the formation in 1863 of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS). The CWS began manufacturing in 1873 with the production of biscuits and shoes, and over the years moved into numerous other industries. Today the CWS has the most modern tea and coffee blending and packing plant in the world, it has creameries across the UK producing fresh and dried milk, cheese and butter. Biscuits, jams, margarine, canned fruit and processed meat are also produced. It also has its own winery and is engaged in soft drink manufacture.

Co-operative Movement in Ealing
The Vicar of St Mary's, Dr Oliver, proposed in March 1891 an ambitious scheme for workers' co-operation which would:
* provide an unemployment fund
* provide workmen's cottages
* provide pensions to keep people out of the workhouses
In 1893 a shareholder category of membership had been fixed with a minimum fee of £1.00, giving voting rights and higher dividends than non--member purchasers. The Ealing Society followed the normal management structure of the several hundred societies throughout the country and had 65 members with a capital of 103, This however was not sufficient to set up a store.

The Co-operative Women's Guild
Women began attending the Co-operative Union Congress in the early 1880's – not as delegates but as appendages of their husbands – either wives or daughters taken along by the men who were the only people in the Co-operative Society then who had the right to be members, the right to be Co-operators. Naturally these women got together and talked and the idea began to take root of a women's organisation. And so in 1883, the Woman's League for the Spread of Co-operation began. It soon changed its name to the Women's Cooperative Guild and became a great campaigning organisation. Indeed, it was the first women's organisation to be formed as a democratic organisation and can justly and rightly claim to be the forerunner of all the Women's Lib organisations functioning today.