Ouseburn Cooperative Engine Works Co.

Event date(s)

1 January 1871 to 31 December 1877


A major strike in the iron trade in Newcastle in 1871 formed the background to the establishment of the Ouseburn Co-operative Engine Works Co. in that year. A radical local minister, Dr John Hunter Rutherford (a renowned social and educational reformer in the city) played a leading role in the establishment of the co-operative. It attracted monies and members from among local working men, as well as existing co-operative societies such as those at Blaydon, Seaton Delaval and West Cramlington. The co-operative made engines for a variety of purposes, but especially for ships. By 1873 some 100 men and boys were employed in the boiler making department. But inexperience in running such a complex business, and the tough competition it faced resulted in heavy losses, and the eventual wounding up of the co-operative between 1875 and 1877.

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Further reading

B. Jones, Co-operative Production (1894); C.Webb, Industrial Co-operation (1928); A. Bonner, British Co-operation (1961); J.F. Wilson, A.Webster & R.Vorberg-Rugh, Building Co-operation: A Business History of the Co-operative Group, 1863-2013 (2013); G.D.H. Cole, A Century of Co-operation (1944).