The Co-op

From 1888 to 1910 the Crystal Palace was famous for the Co-operative Festivals. From the 1890's the Festivals were held over a five day period and attended by many tens of thousands of visitors. Much effort was employed in utilising all the resources in the Crystal Palace and grounds to show-off the principles of the Co-operative movement.

Edward Owen Greening

Apprenticed to wire working at 13 years of age, Greening soon became involved in reform movements. His first public speech came three years later when he addressed the Anti-Slavery Society Manchester. He was active in the Union and Emancipation Society and the suffrage movement. He stood for parliament at Halifax in the election of 1868 as a working class candidate.

His involvement with the co-operative movement dates from the mid 1850s onwards. Greening was involved in the events leading to the convening of the first modern Co-operative Congress in 1869 and the formation of the Co-operative Union. He played a prominent part in the formation of the International Co-operative Alliance. His other interests included productive co-operative societies and agricultural and horticultural co-operatives. He was editor of The Agricultural Economist and the One and All Gardening Annual. He also encouraged co-operative societies to support sport, art and hobbies – he initiated the Crystal Palace Festival and organised co-operative concert parties.

Film of a Co-operative Festival is shown on our DVD "The Crystal Palace is on Fire!".