In the summer of 2005 Danielle Penders was being shown round Fenwick by her grandfather John Smith. She was taken to the site that was the house of John Fulton and she was told how John Fulton made the then largest and most sophisticated Orrery in a workshop attached to the house. She was then taken to the church yard where she was shown the gravestone of John Fulton.
While in the church yard she was told about the Covenanters and was told about their struggle for freedom of religion. She was told about the various artifacts about the Covenanters in the church and was shown the Covenanter memorial stones in the churchyard. She was then told about the Fenwick Weavers and how they were the first recorded example of the mighty Co-operative movement.
She then said to her grandfather “You showed me all about John Fulton and his achievements and his gravestone. You told me about the Covenanters and their struggle and showed me their memorial stones in the churchyard. She then said WHY IS THERE NOTHING ABOUT THE FENWICK WEAVERS IN FENWICK?”
Her grandfather said to himself you are right why is there nothing in Fenwick about the weavers. He then contacted John McFadzean who was the chairman of the Fenwick Community Council and they decided to send a letter to the Co-operative Group in Manchester to make Fenwick’s claim to be the first recorded Co-operative where full records exist. From the start they knew this was going to be difficult as there had been many other valiant but unsuccessful attempts to have Fenwick recognised to their rightful place in Co-operative history.
A seminar was arranged for the January of 2006 to put the claim to the secretary of the Co-operative Group John Butler. That seminar was a great success and John Butler agreed with the Fenwick claim.
The two JOHNS as they were later to be called were co-founders of a new company that was set up in September 2006 to take forward the history of the Fenwick Weavers which is know acknowledged by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) the governing body of the Co-operative movement worldwide as the earliest recorded example of a co-operative. This work is still in progress.