The Stratford Co-operative and Industrial Society opened at the corner of Falmouth Street and Maryland Street, Stratford Newtown in 1862.
A group of men at Stratford Railway Works formed the Society in 1861. Other smaller societies were started among industrial groups in regular employment in West Ham and neighbourhood, but these either failed or were absorbed into the Stratford Society.
The first shop, a former barbers, started with one sack of flour. The Society grew quickly: by 1870 it had 439 members, its annual sales were over £10,000 and the "divi" was 1 shilling and 9 pence (1/9 or about 7p). By 1900 there were about 21, 000 co-operators in Essex, one third of which were based at Stratford. The premises were extended and the central stores developed in the area: Maryland remained at the 'heart' of the movement. In the years following the jubilee of 1911, Stratford was the key area where the younger socialist members fought the Liberal voting founders for control. In 1915 Alfred Barnes, a socialist, won the presidency. Although defeated he regained his position in 1919, became a Labour and Co-operative MP for East Ham and a Minister in the 1945-51 Labour Government. In 1929 the Stratford Society amalgamated with the Edmonton Society to form the London Co-Operative Society. It gave a membership of 124,000 coverage from London to Southend and Barnet to Barking and put it in a strong position to compete with increasing concentration of capital by "takeovers" even in those days.