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Buying the Co-op

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1968-69 Buying the Hedgeley Co-operative Store

On 1 November 1969 the West Hedgeley Jubilee Hall Committee made an application to purchase and convert the recently closed Co-operative Store building in Powburn into a new village hall. 

The existing village hall (Jubilee Hall) was situated about one mile north of the village on the increasingly busy main route from Morpeth to the Scottish Borders. There was no footpath and street lighting was inadequate, making it unsafe and difficult to cross the road (A697). In addition, having been built in 1897 from corrugated iron and timber, the Jubilee Hall was considered a poor option for conversion if it were to meet modern needs.

The Hedgeley Co-operative Society was first registered in 1898 and in 1932 it amalgamated with the Tweedside Industrial Co-operative Society (originally registered in 1861). The Hedgeley Co-operative Society initially operated from a timber and corrugated iron building.

Monochrome photo of original Hedgeley Co-operative Store
The original corrugated iron and timber Co-op prior to 1923 [Ref: BVPC0085]

In the early 1920s a fire destroyed the Co-op. It was later built in stone and re-opened in 1923.

Monochrome photo showing Co-op Store opening ceremony 1923
Re-opening of the new stone-built Co-op in 1923 [Ref: BVPC0006]

Hedgeley Co-operative Society Store ceases trading

The Co-operative store ceased trading in 1966 and so became available for purchase.

Seizing the opportunity

The old store was located much closer to Powburn village than the Jubilee Hall (less than half a mile) and, overall, the site and building were considered to be a good option for a new village hall. Consequently, a proposal to convert the old shop was drawn up on 9 July 1968 and, after due consideration by Committee members and residents, a formal application to purchase and convert the shop was submitted on 1 November 1969.

Monochrome photo of the former Co-op Store in Powburn
Disused Co-op store as seen sometime between 1966 – September 1973 [Ref: BVPC0544]

The above photograph shows the Hedgeley Co-operative Society store after its closure in 1966 but before building work began in September 1973. It is viewed from the north-east corner.

Monochrome photo of the front elevation of the former Co-op Store in Powburn
Disused Co-op store as seen sometime between 1966 – September 1973 [Ref: BVPC0545]

The above photo was taken on the same day as its sister image above it [BVPC0544]. This time, however, the front, east-facing elevation is shown. It demonstrates that the building had changed very little since it was re-opened in 1923 as a replacement for the burned down former iron and timber structure

Monochrome photo of the former Co-op store in Powburn sometime between 1967-1973
Disused Co-op store sometime between 1 August 1967 – September 1973 [Ref: BVPC0546]

The above image shows the disused Co-op store from the south-east corner. The photo was taken around the same time as the two immediately above [BVPC0544 and BVPC0545] but can be dated a little more precisely to between 1 August 1967 – September 1973. The wooden fence in the left foreground is the boundary fence to the garden of Coquet House where Anna and Bill Smith lived: Bill represented the Breamish Village Hall Committee when a letter of commendation was written by the Assistant Chief Constable of Northumbria Police in 1981 (see Emergency Centre).

Disused Co-op (Rear View) sometime between 1966 – September 1973 [Ref: BVPC0543]

Purchase costs and fundraising

The purchase price of the old store was £1,500 but a total of around £20,000 was needed to pay for legal fees, building conversion, furnishings, and similar.

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Purchase costs

Committee members and residents set about raising the necessary funds. Activities included such things as a Pram Push, whist drives, dances, and a sale of donated antiques and valuables. This latter event was organised by Anne Henson who lived at Breamish House in Powburn.

Well, I think everybody was getting a bit fed-up with garden fetes, so this was something different.

Anne Henson (Breamish House)

The collectibles were donated by people in Powburn and the Breamish Valley and included handmade Northumbrian quilts, babies’ caps, butter churns, paintings, and a collection of old farm implements. £270 was raised for the village hall fund.


NB: Dates in (brackets) indicate the year when the images were first shared with either the Breamish Valley Photographic Collection or the Breamish Hall Heritage Project and, therefore, the date when permission to use the images was granted.

Can you help?

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