An appeal for funding has launched for a project to preserve crucial records of the workers’ co-operative movement.
The Workers Co-operative Archive Project aims to save key records from workers’ coops from the 1970s to the 1990s. It is hoping to get under way in spring, providing it can raise £10,000.
A year ago, the initial research campaign began encouraging people to check their attics for any records which may be hidden away. Now they are ready for the final part of the process – applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding to employ a project officer for 18 months.
The Co-operative Heritage Trust will co-ordinate the project and has offered to contribute £10,000. An appeal for pledges (in units of £500) to raise a further £10,000 from workers’ co-ops and the co-op movement has launched in order to complete the full £89,000 funding package.
The 1970s to 1990s saw a new wave of co-ops. A 1979 publication states that these co-ops aimed to create jobs “where people were important, with an emphasis on sharing work, ownership, profits, responsibilities and decisions”.
The project has the title ‘Working Together: recording and preserving the heritage of the workers’ co-operative movement’ and has several specific aims. The project also aims to create a new workers’ co-op archive at the National Co-operative Archive in Manchester, digitise resources to go online, and interview key figures from the period. And the team want to develop learning resources and panels for display at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, and elsewhere.
The Project Advisory Team, which has developed the proposal, includes Bob Cannell from Suma, John Goodman and Andrew Bibby, co-op archivist Gillian Lonergan, and co-op historian Stephen Yeo. The project’s proposal to the Heritage Lottery Fund is also being supported by Ian Snaith, current chair of the Co-operative Heritage Trust and Simon Parkinson, principal of the Co-operative College.
Andrew Bibby says: “The second half of the last century saw a quite remarkable renaissance in the idea of working co-operatively in Britain. However this important part of our history is in danger of being lost. We know that some co-ops’ records have been destroyed or thrown into skips, but we also know that much valuable material remains, in attics, cupboards and drawers. The project aims to identify these records and ensure they are properly saved for posterity.”
Ian Snaith of the Co-operative Heritage Trust adds: “Although we have records of nineteenth century productive co-operatives, we do not currently have very much from the late twentieth century. We’re delighted to be supporting this initiative and hope very much that the Heritage Lottery Fund will also see the value of this work.”
The Heritage Lottery Fund bid will be submitted very shortly, provided that the extra £10,000 in pledges can be found.
- Co-operatives and anyone able to make pledges (in units of £500) are asked to contact Andrew Bibby at [email protected]
In this article
- Andrew Bibby
- Bob Cannell
- British co-operative movement
- co-op archivist
- co-op historian
- Co-operative College
- Gillian Lonergan
- Heritage Lottery Fund
- Ian Snaith
- John Goodman
- National Co-operative
- Rochdale Pioneers Museum
- Simon Parkinson
- Stephen Yeo
- The Co-operative brand
- The Co-operative Food
- The Co-operative Group
- United Kingdom
- workers co-operative
- United Kingdom
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