a celebration of
100 years of federation

Fred Hayward -
Co-op unionist, the peoples’ delegate

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Historian Fred Hughes writes....

Once the new constitution and council standing orders had been adopted, work began on formalising district responsibilities.

“Seventy-eight councillors were elected in 1910 representing the 26 wards,” says Potteries historian Steve Birks. “The new council assumed the title Stoke-on-Trent to avoid confusion with the town of Stoke-upon-Trent, although puzzlement still exists for visitors and observers from outside the city over the name and the uncertainty of where exactly the city centre is.”

In addition to the councillors each of the wards were permitted to elect aldermen – 26 in all. Although these men were not given a vote to decide council policy they were allowed to vote in political divisions. This meant that aldermen could vote with a political group in order to retain a balance of power.

“The position of aldermen is quite peculiar,” continues Steve.  “Although it is Old English in origin the arrangement did not become a constitutional force until 1835 under new municipal corporation laws. Aldermen were not voted in by the electorate but by sitting councillors themselves for a term lasting six years. This was particularly helpful to a political party that narrowly lost an election. Anyway the government put an end to this system in 1910 just as the new Stoke-on-Trent Corporation was being launched. Nevertheless many city notables were created aldermen between 1910 and 1974, the year the position was abolished altogether when the authority of local government administration was elevated to county level, in our case to Staffordshire County Council.”

It is interesting to compare the rank and community status of councillors in 1910 to the current composition today. For instance the major parties were Liberal, Conservative and Independent with a smattering of Labour rising from the ranks of trades unions.

Most of these men had already held civic positions within their own communities, for instance Walton Stanley a Hanley auctioneer was Independent. Conservative Thomas Hampton was a brick manufacturer; Jesse Shirley owned potteries as did JS Goddard from Fenton. In Burslem Sydney Malkin was a pottery manufacturer, so was Wilcox-Edge, while WW Dobson owned Parkers Brewery. Perhaps the nearest to authentic working-class representation was Samuel Finney, a former coalminer who’d become MP for Hanley.

Then there was a representative of the Co-operative Society and Co-op unionist Fred Hayward, a man who was certainly a peoples’ delegate.

Fred Hayward was born in Burslem in 1876,” relates former City archive librarian Margaret Beard. “His father was an executive member of the Potteries Worker’s Society, a sort of embryonic life insurance club. His father was also a director of Burslem’s Star Building Society. This may give you the impression the family was well off. But in fact Fred was working on a potbank at the age of ten and left school at twelve to work in a clothes shop before returning to the pots until 1904. This was a route familiar to many Potteries’ lads who laboured long hours in dusty hovels through a short life raising large families before becoming a forgotten statistic. But Fred was different.”

The Co-op Movement had its roots in Brighton where a local reformer, Dr William King, advocated the principles of self-help trading in home produced goods. In 1844 a group of Rochdale textile workers set up an independent business encouraging cooperation and providing the customer with a dividend on each purchased item, the accumulation of which went into shared profit.

One of the earliest co-op traders in Stoke-on-Trent was a Burslem potter James Colclough who opened Stoke-on-Trent’s first co-operative store, in Newcastle Street Burslem. Meanwhile another Co-op pioneer, James Stanway, a manager at Royal Doulton, encouraged Fred Hayward to attend the infant Co-op meetings. In 1902 Fred became the company’s unpaid part-time secretary and helped the organisation to become the most successful mutual commercial enterprise Stoke-on-Trent has ever known.

“Fred’s father certainly influenced his son’s social participation and community involvement,” Margaret continues. “From 1902 until his retirement in 1935 Sir Fred Hayward remained at the top of the Co-op movement in North Staffordshire. He helped to execute its rise from a single Burslem bread shop into a production and retail industry that affected the lives of possibly every family in the region.

Whether you celebrated your birth or wedding at Co-op restaurants, or were buried from a Co-op chapel of repose; whether you wore clothes tailored by the Co-op, rode Co-op bicycles, drank Co-op milk or went on a Co-op holiday, life-long interaction with the Co-op throughout the 20th century was inevitable from cradle to grave. And Sir Fred Hayward was at the head of this movement until he was incapacitated by poor health that led to his death 1944.”

In 1910 Hayward was a pro-federation Burslem councillor, known as the ‘quiet man’ of federation, whose strong organisational skills were recognised when he was made mayor in 1925, the same year that King George V conferred the title of ‘city’ upon Stoke-on-Trent.
And for his public service and his pioneering work for the Co-op, Fred Hayward was knighted in 1931 and created a freeman of the City in 1933.

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related pages..

Index page for the Co-operative Society in Stoke-on-Trent