This axe, together with a gavel that sits alongside it in the museum collection, was used to launch the CWS steam ship Federation in 1866. The ship was built by S. P Austin and Son, Sunderland, and was launched by Miss Greenwood of Rochdale who was involved in the Women’s Co-operative Guild here and was the daughter of Abraham Greenwood who was heavily involved with the education work of the Rochdale Pioneers and the establishment of the CWS. Federation was essentially a trading vessel, built to carry cargo of various types including cattle. The vessel was launched on the 12th October 1886. A grand trip took place shortly after, on the 8th November, and was followed by a banquet and a number of speeches. Representatives from various co-operative bodies across Great Britain took part in the ceremony and the well-crafted and solid ship was greatly admired. After the banquet Mr. Swann, chairman of the Shipping Committee, read the following lines that he had composed to commemorate the new vessel:
Sail on, oh goodly ship, fulfil thy mission,
Bring thou our merchandise across the sea
Safely to port, for thou hast good provision,
In storm and sunshine we will trust to thee.
Thou art well builded, and thy bulwarks strong;
Then breast the surge, and mount the billows high,
And as a thing of life – wild waves among –
Show that thou can’st their angry rage defy.
Then speed thee well, oh, “Federation,” may
Thy name be known on many a distant strand:
Thy name an omen of that happier day,
When wars shall cease, and commerce bless the land.
Vote To Get This Artefact Included In The Museum
Voting Ends: 31st March '12