Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: January 29, 2021
Webpage updated: January 29, 2021




With the Plymouth Co-operative Society Limited now responsible for stores in Dartmouth, Tavistock and Torquay, it was felt that the Society should change its name to reflect this newly acquired territory.  Thus, on Friday March 14th 1969 the Plymouth and South Devon Co-operative Society Limited was registered.  The affairs of the Plymouth Society were transferred to the new Company on Sunday March 30th 1969 and the Paignton Co-operative Society Limited was amalgamated with it on Monday March 31st 1969, on which date the Plymouth Co-operative Society Limited legally ceased to exist.

The new Society simply carried on where the old one left off.  The grocery stores in Cattedown Road and at Gunnislake, in Cornwall, were closed on Monday June 30th 1969, followed by the Wilton Street butchery and the original tobacconists in New George Street on Saturday July 19th 1969.  The groceries in Union Street and Saint Levan Road were closed on Saturday October 4th and Saturday November 8th 1969 respectively.

On Monday January 12th 1970 the two shops of the Buckfastleigh Co-operative Society Limited were amalgamated into the Plymouth and South Devon Co-operative Society.

One event that impacted on every Co-operative member in the area was the introduction of the divi stamp to replace the old divi tickets.  The Society joined the Co-operative Wholesale Society's National Dividend Stamp Scheme on Monday February 2nd 1970.  Later that month, on Saturday February 28th 1970 the laundry receiving shop in Mayflower Street was closed.

The Newton Abbot Co-operative Society Limited joined the Plymouth and South Devon Co-operative Society on Monday September 7th 1970 bringing with it the Co-op store in the heart of Dartmoor, at Moretonhamptead.  The developments in the Newton Abbot area are not included in this history.

On Saturday January 9th 1971 the grocery in Beacon Park Road was closed and on Tuesday December 7th 1971 the modernised supermarket in Morshead Road at Crownhill was opened.  The former butchery at Crownhill was converted into a ladies' hairdressers.

The grocery in Lipson was closed on Saturday March 31st 1973 and the first five mobile butchery vans were withdrawn.

Two more shops were closed in 1974, the butchers in Armada Street on Monday January 14th and the Millbridge branch of the Plymouth Co-operative Drug Stores Limited on Saturday June 15th.  The greengrocery business of Mr D C Slade at 46 Morshead Road, Crownhill, was purchased and re-opened as a Co-op greengrocers on Sunday November 24th 1974.

By February 1975 the Milk Bar had closed and been replaced with a steak and snack cafe known as the "Dolphinette".  The main restaurant on the third floor of Co-operative House was, of course, called the "Dolphin Restaurant".

On Tuesday September 9th 1975 three new shops were opened in Eggbuckland Road: a grocers, a butchers and an off-licence.  The adjacent greengrocery and florists was upgraded at the same time.

During December 1975 the Freezer Centre off Ham Drive was increased in size to 1,700 square feet.

The butchery at Southway closed on Saturday February 14th 1976, followed by the butchery at Laira and the grocery at Mount Gould on Saturday October 23rd 1976.  The Plymouth City Council's compulsory purchase order on Poole Farm, Eggbuckland, came into force on Monday May 31st 1976.

Glencairn Pharmacy at numbers 638/640 Wolseley Road, Saint Budeaux, was purchased and re-opened on Monday January 31st 1977 as a Co-op pharmacy.

A new innovation, The Motoring Centre, was opened at Peverell on Monday February 7th 1977 while at Saint Budeaux, the drapery, menswear and do-it-yourself departments were closed on Saturday March 5th 1977.  A few days later, Saturday March 12th 1977, the footwear store was moved into the former pharmacy at number 2 Pemros Road, Saint Budeaux.

Tamar House, the Co-op supermarket at Saint Budeaux, was rebuilt and re-opened on Tuesday March 22nd 1977.  Later that year, on Monday November 7th 1977, a pharmacy was opened at 331 Southway Drive in what had formerly been Altons Chemists.

Following the opening of the Food Distribution Centre at Bell Close, Plympton, on Monday January 16th 1978 came the opening of the first of the big supermarkets, Plymco 1, in the Ridgeway at Plympton.

That took place on Tuesday March 7th 1978, the ceremony of cutting the red, white and blue tape being performed by Ray Alan and his tippling dummy, Lord Charles.  First in the queue was 73-years-old Miss Winifred Boulden, of Saint Maurice.  The store cost almost 1 million to build and many locals thought it looked a monstrosity on the outside although it was found to be spacious inside.

The grocery and greengrocery warehouses were no longer required and closed.  On Sunday April 2nd 1978 a Dairy Milk Rounds Depot was opened in Montpelier Road, at the rear of the bakery premises, where dairy milk floats could be maintained and batteries recharged.

The year ended with a series of closures: the butchery in Underwood Road, Plympton, on Saturday March 11th 1978; the Plymouth Drugs Stores pharmacy in Beaumont Road on Saturday June 3rd 1978; the butcheries in Fleet Street, Keyham, and at Jubilee Buildings, Peverell Corner, on Saturday December 30th 1978.

At the beginning of 1979 five more mobile butchery vans were withdrawn and on Saturday May 12th 1979 the greengrocery and florist at number 6 Cornwall Street closed.  The latter premises were re-opened on Monday October 1st 1979 for TV rentals.

In May 1980 the Plymouth Society broke its link with the Co-operative Wholesale Society and transferred its grocery buying to the Metro/Anglia/Normid Food Buying Group.  Only one shop was closed that year, the butchery at Ernesettle, on Saturday September 6th 1980.  Two new ventures were started: the Tachograph Centre, at Peverell, on Thursday August 14th 1980; and the Carpet Warehouse in Vauxhall Street on Monday September 15th 1980.

An opticians was opened at 25 Mutley Plain on Monday February 23rd 1981.  The Laundry and Dry Cleaning Works at Langstone Road were closed on Saturday June 6th 1981.

Renting TVs from the Co-op was obviously not a popular thing to do as the TV rental shop that had been opened in Cornwall Street in 1979 was closed again on Friday January 1st 1982.  A branch of the optical service was opened at Plymstock on Thursday March 4th 1982.  The pharmacy at West Park closed on Saturday April 24th 1982 and the ladies hairdressing establishment at Plymstock closed on Saturday May 8th 1982.

Next to close was the footwear store in Pemros Road, Saint Budeaux, which shut its doors on Monday January 31st 1983.  But the Co-op made an interesting acquisition in June 1983, too: the former pharmacy of Mr C J Park at number 23 Mutley Plain, following the retirement the preceding month of the last member of the Park family to own it.

Only one new store was opened in 1984, a Family Care Centre on the corner of New George Street and Raleigh Street.  It was really an extended pharmacy and opened on Thursday May 24th 1984.  The year was mainly taken up with closures: the Courtenay Street florist and tobacconist and the New George Street butchers both closed on Saturday January 7th 1984; the Cornwall Street butchery closed on Saturday February 11th but re-opened on Tuesday July 3rd 1984 as Petals Florist.  The freezer centre at Plympton closed on Saturday June 2nd 1984.

The first Homemaker Store was opened on Saturday January 19th 1985.  That years was most notable, though, for the commencement of franchising the milk rounds, which started with those in Devonport.

Plymco 2, at Transit Way, Honicknowle, was opened on Tuesday October 21st 1986.  The following month the warehouse on North Quay, Sutton Harbour, was sold to Messrs Daregrange Limited, a subsidiary of Messrs King Street Securities Limited.

On Saturday August 29th 1987 the grocery in Bridwell Road and the butchery in Station Road, Keyham Barton, were closed.  It was followed on Saturday September 19th 1987 by the opticians on Mutley Plain and on Saturday November 28th 1987 by the tobacconists in Royal Parade.

The butchery in Albert Road and the grocery at Camel's Head were closed on Saturday February 13th 1988 and the pharmacy on Mutley Plain shut its doors on Saturday July 9th 1988.  Towards the end of 1988 the Transport Department completed its move from Peverell to Bell Close, Plympton.

Although not a part of the retail business, it is useful to note the closure on Saturday April 22nd 1989 of the Co-op's Sports and Social Club at North Road, where the early meetings of the Plymouth Bus Club were held and various Co-op employees had built a model railway.

On Saturday August 12th 1989 the grocery at Honicknowle closed, followed on Saturday August 26th 1989 by the greengrocery at Efford and on Saturday November 11th 1989 by the grocery at Whitleigh.

The freezer centre at in Ham Drive was closed on Saturday January 27th 1990.

As the Society was continuing to expand its territory and had absorbed other smaller Westcountry co-operatives, another change in title was called for.  In 1999 the Plymouth and South Devon Co-operative Society Limited became the Plymouth and South West Co-operative Society Limited.