Mr Charles Wightman J.P. was born and brought up in Doncaster. He left the town as an adult and spent several years in Sheffield and other large centre’s of industry. He returned to the town in 1871 and joined the Co0operative Society here, having previously been a member of the Carbrook Society.
In 1876 Mr. Wightman was elected onto the general committee and retained that position until 1882, when he voluntarily retired for 12 months, being elected again in 1883. He continued to serve upon the committee until January, 1889, when an opposition faction succeeded, to the astonishment of a great majority of the members, in unseating him, but in July of the same year he was again returned by the largest number of votes ever polled (up to that time) by any candidate for a seat on the board of management of the society.
On the retirement of Mr. Yelland in January, 1891, from the presidency of the society, a position which he had held for 10 years, Mr. Wightman was appointed his successor without opposition, and though he has had opposition on several occasions he has invariably been returned by large majorities. He remained president of the Doncaster Co-operative Society until January, 1902, when, through a spirit of over-confidence, he was beaten. He, however, regained the position in the following year by a very large majority.
Mr Wightman was a Smith by trade, and until recently worked at the Forge in the Great Northern Plant Works. He was apprenticed with Messrs Hewitt and Bray’s, but finished his apprenticeship at the Plant Works, and afterwards left the town, returning in the course of a few years to again find employment in the Great Northern Works.
Mr. Wightman had been a member of various friendly societies, and was three times president of the board of management of the Great Northern Railway Locomotive Sick Society, and was some years ago appointed one of the trustees, a position he still holds. He has also been a member of a Druids’ Court for a period of 35 years. In 1859, Mr. Wightman joined the volunteer force and remained a volunteer for 17 years, rising to the position of Sergeant, being one of the first working-man Sergeants in the regiment. He was placed on the Commission of the Peace in 1893, during the Liberal Government.
In November 1900, Mr. Wightman gained a seat on the Town Council as a Liberal member, and has been in the thick of the political life of the town for many years. He has also been a member of the executive committee of the South Yorkshire District of the Co-operative Association for a period of 18 years, and chairman for the past 9 years.
Mr. Wightman who started life almost entirely without school education, owes his present position to his perseverance, together with a natural ability for business.
– Taken from the Co-operative Congress Souvenir, 35th Assembly, Doncaster, 1903.