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New Left Review I/218, July-August 1996

Christopher Hird

Building Societies: Stakeholding inPractice and Under Threat

In the beginning, building societies were invented by ordinary workers as democratic self-help organizations. [1] The author would like to thank Richard Belfield, Alison Turner, Paul Dwyer and Najma Khazi for their work which made this article possible. The industrial revolution of the late eighteenth century brought a flood of workers into the cities—most of these to live in appalling conditions and at the mercy of their landlord and employer. The idea of the building society came from conversations in pubs and taverns when workers complained to each other about these conditions. The very first building society—founded in 1775—was named after the landlord of the Golden Cross Inn in Birmingham, where its members met.

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