1885 - The first workers' cocoa factory

In the mid-19th century the co-operative movement gathered momentum, especially in the north of England, and employees were able to take part in jointly owned and democratically controlled businesses.

This was especially popular in retailing and food production, and in 1885 the London Productive Society Limited was registered under the Industrial Societies Act to establish a cocoa factory, with profits to be divided 30% to the workers pro rata on the amount of their wages and 10% each to an educational fund and a provident fund. It opened premises in Thames Ditton in 1887 and supplied cocoa to over 400 retailing societies, rising to some 900 by the turn of the century.

Its main products were Nutritial Cocoa and Loproso Cocoa, until the factory virtually burned to the ground in 1902.

A national organisation, the English and Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society, opened its own new Luton cocoa factory that year having moved this activity from a factory in the east of London. Two Lutona cocoas were advertised – 'mature' for strength and 'mild' for delicacy, joined later by Silver Badge and Children's Silver Badge. The factory was demolished in 1970.

The co-operative movement
The co-operative movement


The English and Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society opened its new cocoa factory in Dallow Road, Luton, in 1902. By 1925 the Society was advertising Lutona Natural Cocoa, made only from beans from its own plantations - promoted by Lutona Cocoa Week at the end of November when free samples were given out from its shops.

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