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British Motorcycles


Made in Britain
Federal & Federation Gallery

Co-operative Wholesale Society

C.W.S of Balloon Street, Manchester. Telephone: Manchester, Blackfriars 1212. Cables: "Wholesale, Manchester". Branches at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, London, Bristol and Cardiff. (1947)

The Co-operative Group, the trading name of Co-operative Group (CWS) Ltd, is a United Kingdom consumers' co-operative, the world's largest consumer-owned business. Co-operative Group (CWS) Limited was formerly called the Co-operative Wholesale Society Limited but the name was changed in 2001 on the transfer of engagements of Co-operative Retail Services to the Co-operative Wholesale Society. The company officially amalgamated with United Co-operatives on 29 July 2007; this reinforced the group's position as the largest consumer co-operative in the world.

  • 1844 The Co-operative movement started with the Rochdale Pioneers.
  • In 1863, twenty years after the Rochdale Pioneers opened their co-operative, the North of England Co-operative Society was launched by 300 individual co-ops across Yorkshire and Lancashire.
  • 1864 The North of England Co-operative Wholesale Society was created to buy and manufacture goods for all the co-operatives.
  • The Co-operative Group formed gradually over 140 years, from the merger of many independent retail societies, and their wholesale societies and federations.
  • By 1872, after the North of England was dropped from the title, it had become known as the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) and was based in Manchester.
  • 1947 British Industries Fair Advert for: Domestic Textiles; Ladies', Maids' and Children's Wear; Men's Wear. Manufacturers of Ladies' Coats, Costumes, Gowns, Furs, Corsetry, Lingerie, Umbrellas, Handbags, Hosiery, Underwear, Men's, Youths', Boys' Ready to Wear Clothing, Shirts, Pyjamas, Hats, Raincoats, Dressing Gowns, Woollen Cotton Piece Goods, Handkerchiefs, Spinners. (Textiles Section - Earls Court, Ground Floor, Stands No. 284 and 285)
  • and Manufacturers of Leather; All classes of Footwear and Slippers; Ladies' Handbags, Dressing Cases and Fancy Leather Goods; Travelling Requisites; also Brooms, Household, Paint, Toilet, and Tooth Brushes. Cutlery and Garden Tools. (Olympia, Ground Floor, Stands No. A.1299 and D.1660 and Earls Court, 1st Floor, Stands No. 149 and 466a)
  • Through the 20th century, smaller societies merged with CWS, such as the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society (SCWS) (1973), and the South Suburban Co-operative Society (1984).
  • By the 1990s, CWS's share of the market had declined considerably and many came to doubt the viability of a co-operative model.
  • 1994 CWS sold its factories to Andrew Regan.
  • 1997 Regan returned with a £1.2 billion bid for CWS. There were allegations of "carpet-bagging" - new members who joined simply to make money from the sale - and more seriously fraud and commercial leaks. After a lengthy battle, Regan's bid was seen off and two senior CWS executives were dismissed and imprisoned for fraud. Regan was cleared of charges. The episode recharged CWS and its membership base. Tony Blair's Co-operative Commission, chaired by John Monks, made major recommendations for the co-operative movement, including the organisation and marketing of the retail societies. It was in this climate that, in 2000, CWS merged with the UK's second largest society, Co-operative Retail Services.
  • Its headquarter complex is situated on the north side of Manchester city centre and is made up of many different buildings with two notable tower blocks.
  • Other independent societies are part owners of the Group. Representatives of the societies that part own the Group are elected to the Group's national board. The Group manages the Co-operative Retail Trading Group (CRTG), which produces and sources goods for the supermarkets of most of the societies under a common brand. There is a similar purchasing group (CTTG) for co-operative travel agents.
  • In 2007, the Society began discussions with 'United Co-operatives, the UK's second-largest Co-operative, on the possibility of a merger of the two societies. In February 2007, the boards of both societies announced that they were to merge subject to members' approval, and in July 2007 the new society came into being.
  • 2008 Following the merger of several wholesale and retail societies, the group is now a major UK operator of convenience stores, financial service organisations and undertakers.

Federal were motorcycles produced from 1921 to 1929, by the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

The Federal was first seen in 1921. It was a lightweight version of the Co-operative Wholesale Society Federation brand. Fitted with a 269cc Villiers engine, this was a conventional machine.

Later, 172cc Villiers engines were used along with three-speed all-chain transmission and Sturmey-Archer gearboxes.

The name was dropped after 1929, but company continued with Federation until 1937, when they went back to the supply of groceries.


Federation were motorcycles produced from 1921 to 1937 by the Co-operative Wholesale Society at Tyseley, Birmingham.

  • 1921 They started out by providing reliable transport for the thousands of commuters who regularly shopped at the Co-operative Wholesale Society. The machines could be ordered from any one of their numerous outlets throughout the UK. The first motorcycles had a 292cc sv JAP single. This drove a belt to the rear wheel through a two-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox. Fitted with Brampton Biflex forks, it had a choice of touring or TT type handlebars. Although they were not built with sport in mind, Federations won fourteen class awards in their first season.
  • 1922 A 677cc sv V-twin JAP model was added.
  • 1923 They built a motorized cycle that was fitted with a 147cc Villiers engine. For a short time that year there was also a three-wheeler, but it was the motorcycles with JAP engines, and later Burman gearboxes, that were a real success.
  • 1929 Until now, side valves had always been used, but that year the firm introduced a 346cc ohv model and saddle-tank styling.
  • 1930 A sv 500cc model was added.
  • 1931 That was followed by one of 677cc and an ohv 500cc version.
  • 1933 By now only one of the four-stroke was available, but that was soon joined by a 245cc ohv model and a couple of 150cc versions with Villiers engines.
  • 1937 So they continued until that year, when the Co-operative Wholesale Society stopped producing motorcycles in order to concentrate on groceries.

Sources Grace's Guide



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