Obituary: Derek Oldham, driving force at Penrith Co-op

He served as general manager from 1961-1991 and oversaw major store improvements

Derek Oldham, a driving force behind the success of Penrith Co-operative Society, has died at the age of 92.

Mr Oldham was general manager at the society from 1961 until 1991 and oversaw major improvements at a number of its shops in Cumbria, including the development of the premises in Burrowgate, Penrith, into a supermarket and department store. Penrith Co-op had formed in 1890; it merged with Scotmid Co-operative in 2013, and rebranded as the Lakes & Dales Co-operative.

Born in Rusholme, Manchester, to Phyllis and James Oldham, he qualified as an accountant and worked for the co-operative movement around Lancashire and Yorkshire.

He married Doreen Lees, from Longsight, in 1953 and became manager of the Great Moor co-op, in Stockport, and later the general manager in Penrith. The next 30 years saw the Penrith society enjoy great success, with Derek overseeing developments such as the building of new premises for the Shap and Keswick branches, and the creation in Penrith of a large store in Burrowgate where there had been a series of small shops. The society also had a number of smaller shops and ran mobile shops along with milk and coal rounds.

Away from his work – to which he was highly dedicated, Mr Oldham was a founder member of Penrith Lions Club and twice served as its president. He also helped to form a meningitis support group in the Penrith area, and organised fundraising – including through a 1981 football match between the Penrith club and Manchester City, who were FA Cup finalists that year, for which Penrith Co-operative Society provided financial support.

He was a keen Manchester City supporter, and played table tennis, badminton, squash and lawn tennis, serving as chair of the Penrith Tennis Club, of which he and Doreen were members. 

Derek Oldham is survived by his wife Doreen, children Jill, Janine and Jonathan, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.