Willrose Crescent, SE2

Place Name

William Rose (1843 – 1909) who with Alexander McLeod established the Royal Arsenal Supply Association in Woolwich in 1868. They had based their ideas on the work and principles of the Rochdale Pioneers, which had been launched some years earlier. They held their first meeting in November 1868 in which 20 people attended paying £1 for a share in the fledging shop. McLeod was voted its first Chairman and Rose, who worked in the Tool Room of the Shell Foundry at the Arsenal, who had proposed the idea was its first Secretary. The shop was based in a room in Rose’s home at 11 Eleanor Road (now Barnard Close). Among the goods stocked were tea; sugar; butter, and later bacon; coffee; and, spices. The food would be cheap and unadulterated. Rent and labour were given freely and the store soon showed a profit which was divided between members in proportion to the amount which each had purchased. In 1869, Rose was laid off from his job and emigrated to Michigan, USA, surrendering his share. His son, William Oliver Rose, went on to became a well-known Canadian politician. McLeod took over as Secretary and George H Bevan, another founder member, became Treasurer. By 1934 they had 275,000 members and 200 shops across South London and beyond.

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