Sixty years to the day Llanelli Community Heritage unveiled our latest Blue Plaque which commemorates the opening on 19th December, 1958 of the first purpose-built supermarket in Wales - the Co-op. The plaque is on a wall of the Principality Building Society in the St. Elli Centre on the site of the former Co-op store in what was then Market Street.
The Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) had been in the forefront of innovation since the beginning of the co-operative movement in nineteenth century Lancashire. Its Manchester store opened in 1863 and grew to include offices, warehouses and salerooms occupying a large part of the city's centre. The CWS was among the first to introduce an 8-hour day and convalescent homes for its workers.
The event was attended by a number of our members along with Cllr. Tegwen Devichand, leader of the Rural Council representing the Co-operative and Labour party in Llanelli, by Cllr. Sian Caiach, chair of the Rural Council and by Cllr. David Darkin, Mayor of Llanelli.
Cllr. Keith Evans, author of the book The Secret History of the Llanelli Co-operative, gave a brief outline of the Market Street Co-op and its place in Wales's heritage. Laura Yelland, manager of the current Co-op store at Felinfoel, spoke feelingly of the importance of the co-operative movement in earlier years and expressed the hope that its spirit would continue into the future.
Refreshments were provided by the Co-op on the balcony of the Elli Centre thanks to Andrew Stephens who kindly gave permission for its use.