Friday, 27 May 2011

A Million Londoners, Tokyngton

Even though the lower part of this ghost sign has be painted over, it is still possible to recognise an advert for the London Co-operative Society (LCS). It is very different from the one in Walthamstow, with a strong emphasis on the number of people who owned and controlled it. The LCS brought together several co-operative societies. In 1921, one year after its formation, it had nearly 100,000 members. By 1928, following the absorbtion of several societies, its membership had grown to 250,000. It continued to increase throughout the 1930s, reaching 530,000 in 1934, 650,000 in 1937, and 750,000 in 1939. The war slowed down the movement slightly but in 1944 the LCS could claim to have 832,670 members. The million benchmark was reached in the early 1950s. By then the LCS operated more than 550 establishments offering a wide range of products and services across Greater London. The LCS was the largest cooperative in the world and continued to thrive throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. By the mid-1960s it had 1.3 million members but the golden era of the cooperative movement was reaching its end. Membership stagnated throught the second half of the 1960s and between 1969 and 1970 the LCS lost 150,000 members as people turned towards the new supermarket chains. If the LCS had in 1970 a turnover of £90 million, in 1978 it lost £1.8 million. As a result of these financial difficulties and the more challenging environment, the LCS was amalgamated in 1981 with the Co-operative Retail Society.

This sign must have been painted in or shortly after 1950 or 1951: having one million members was undoubtedly something worth proclaiming!

For more information on the history of the LCS, check the website of the Bishopsgate Institute.

A Million
Own & Control

Location: Harrow Road / Picture taken on: 17/08/2009

This ghost sign for the London Co-operative Society gives me the opportunity to post two pictures of the LCS logo. The wreath with the co-operative's acronym was found on the green tiled façades of its food stores, under the display window. Unfortunately these two examples were painted over by the new owners of these shops but they are slowly reappearing.

Locations: Fulham Road, Fulham (left) and Richmond Road, St Margarets (right) / Pictures taken on: 15/08/2008 (left) and 21/05/2008 (right)

1 comment:

ghostsignsmelb said...

somehow my previous comment didn't work. so here goes again: what i really like about the London Cooperative sign is the way the brickwork forms a mosaic pattern beneath the typography. and the strong vertical of the chimney forms a framing device. for me, the buildings on which these old signs appear are just as integral to their impact as the typography and graphics.