AT the start of the year I carried a photograph of Port Glasgow’s King Street which was believed to have been taken in the 1950s.

It included the former Port Glasgow United Co-operative Society’s garage which now houses the Inverweld welding and fabrication business.

A reader recently discussed this picture with me and asked when the organisation came into being.

In our archives I found a special feature from September 1961 commemorating the centenary of what started as the Port Glasgow Co-operative Company.

It is thought that the first shop opened in what was known as the Buck’s Head Close, off Scarlow Street. Business was so brisk that larger premises were acquired in Scarlow Street. Members of the committee acted as unpaid shop assistants until it was decided full-time staff were also required. This resulted in the employment of a man and a boy!

In 1875 the directors clamped down on credit buying. This move led to a breakaway by some members who formed the Port Glasgow Provident Society.

Both societies continued to expand and opened new shops and offices.

The original organisation acquired central premises in Fore Street in 1891 and began business there in March 1894.

The two groups settled their differences in 1909, but it was not until 1918 that the Port Glasgow United Co-operative Society Limited was formed.

Membership soared after the First World War, and the committee introduced new shops to cater for increased demand. For example, in 1920 a shop and bakery were opened for the society’s 300 members in Kilmacolm, and a suite of shops was built at Glasgow Road to serve members living in the newly-built Lithgow houses in that area.

Developments over the years included, in 1956, the introduction of a children’s department in King Street, the opening of a new self-service store in Highholm Street and a new television department.

Today’s main photograph shows the society’s board of management in 1961. Back row, from left, Samuel Sharp, Thomas Stanton, John Docherty and Edward Clenaghan. Middle: John Shields, Mrs Mary Molloy, Mrs Susan Webster, Mrs Agnes Stewart, Mrs Susan Wilson and George McTaggart. Front: Charles Minihan (vice president), Thomas Hydes (managing secretary), Charles McAleese (president) Arthur Miller (assistant managing secretary) and David McGinnigle (cashier/book-keeper).

The other picture is of the Fore Street premises at Scarlow Corner which opened in March 1894.

I do not have an exact date when the society ceased to trade and would be pleased to hear from anyone with this information.