Moss Side Community Press was a co-operative servicing the radical and Left movement in Manchester from the late 1960s onwards; it became a women’s co-operative in 1975. Understanding the dynamics of workers’ co-operatives – what made them tick and the weaknesses they contained – is a piece of labour history that deserves examination. Appreciating how feminism was practised at a local and UK-wide level within this decade provides an opportunity to learn from the past. During the period 1976-79, the Press’s fortunes mirrored the pressures affecting the women’s liberation movement nationally.
1978 was a year of dispute at the national women’s liberation conference, closely followed by a local dispute at the Press which divided feminists in Manchester. Against a backdrop of northern industrial decline, this article documents the story of the Press in the context of relationships within the women’s movement and also with trade union and other Left organisations. It also aims to recreate the atmosphere of optimism that prevailed in the years before Thatcherism took hold of the economy.