The Co-operative movement revolutionised the lives of working people. It gave them more control over the way they shopped for basic goods, ensured correct weights and measures, the purity of goods and it provided a dividend to members. The Co-op movement had its own factories - producing everything from shirts to soap and furniture - in good working conditions of no more than eight hours a day. It also had its own insurance and building societies.
The Co-operative Store at Beamish came from nearby Annfield Plain, and dates back to 1870. Now it houses grocery, hardware and drapery departments it represents a typical store of the period. The overhead Lamson-Paragon Cash system operates a series of hollow balls which carry money via overhead rails to a central cash office. The cashier recorded all transactions for the dividend and sent back any change with the receipt.
In the grocery department most foods were weighed and packed by hand for each customer. Biscuits were sold loose, but some branded pre-packed goods were starting to appear.
The drapery department stocked clothing and furnishing fabrics, haberdashery, collars, hats, shoes and gloves.
The hardware department sold mangles, polish, paint, pots and pans, miners lamps, picks and shovels.
To finish, just a couple of the offices.