Objects | Society


Co-operative Pelaw Polish, about 1900-1920

Beamish, the North of England Open Air Museum, Durham


1900 – 1945

The Co-operative Society was revolutionary in its ideas and principles for a better society through collective strength, fairness and shared benefits. Although not founded in the North East, this region was an early adopter of the
Co-operative principle.

In 1896, 3.75 acres was leased to the Co-operative Wholesale between Shields Road and the North Eastern Railway, near Pelaw Junction.

The factory complex eventually included drugs and dry goods, clothing, quilts and bedding, cabinet making, engineering and printing and household chemical and cleaning goods. This resulted in ‘Pelaw’ brand name products being distributed around England.

At a time when sweated labour and low wages were common, the factory also set a high standard for safe working conditions and good pay. The complex came to an end, in 1998, with the closure of the Shirt Factory.

On display in the Beamish Town Co-operative Store, along with other Pelaw branded goods.

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