The Co-operative Women’s Guild was established in 1883 (originally named the Women’s League for the Spread of Co-operation, it changed its name in 1885). The Guild was established as a national organisation, with local branches being run in towns and cities throughout Britain. The Guild holds annual congress (the first in Edinburgh in 1883). The annual congress of 1926 took place in Newcastle at the People’s Hall, Rye Hill. The congress was attended by 757 delegates. The Guild, an auxiliary of the co-operative movement, was established to educate women in the principles of Co-operation, but also to campaign for a wide programme of reform. The 1926 Newcastle Congress urged action on a variety of issues: it protested against the government’s reduction in educational expenditure (noting that financial economies at the expense of children was against public interest); it called the Government to take action to ensure all packages of grocery, greengrocery, meat and fish were marked showing weight and price; it supported a system of family allowances to aid working-class mothers; and it called on the Government to support definite proposals for total mutual disarmament by all nations. Alongside the business of Congress, delegates were taken to visit Jesmond Dene Castle, Trinity House Museum and the Laing Art Gallery, and on an excursion to Whitely Bay. The WCG Congresses of 1913 and 1956 were also held in Newcastle.
Barbara Blaszak, The Matriarchs of England’s Cooperative Movement: A Study in Gender Politics and Female Leadership, 1883–1921 (1999); Andrew Flinn, ‘Mothers for Peace’, co-operation, feminism and peace: the Women’s Co-operative Guild and the anti-war movement between the wars’ in Lawrence Black and Nicole Robertson (eds), Consumerism and the Co-operative Movement in Modern British History: Taking Stock (2009); Jean Gaffin and David Thoms, Caring and Sharing: the centenary history of the Women’s Co-operative Guild (1993); Margaret Llewelyn Davies, Maternity: Letters from Working Women, Collected by the Women's Co-operative Guild (reprinted,1978); Gillian Scott, Feminism, Femininity and the Politics of Working Women: The Women’s Co-operative Guild, 1880s to the Second World War (1998); Gillian Scott, ‘Workshops Fit for Homeworkers: The Women’s Co-operative Guild and Housing Reform in mid-Twentieth-Century Britain’ in E. Darling and L.Whitworth (eds), Women and the Making of Built Space in England, 1870–1950 (2007).