1830 – The first mention of a Co-operative College
Charles Fry, of Liverpool Co-operative Wholesale Purchasing Agency, writes to the Editor of the British Co-operator, suggesting setting up a school or college.
1919 – The founding of the Co-operative College
Congress resolves to create a Co-operative College. A report highlights how whole time students were attending Holyoake House and that “work on college line is now becoming inevitable”. The first student is Thomas E Shonk of Australia. The first principal is Professor Fred Hall.
1923-24 – Accommodation for students
The College’s first hostel is bought on Vine Street in Kersal (‘the sunniest side of Manchester’). After alterations, it provides accommodation for 36 students, and in the holidays is used for schools for co-operative secretaries and committee members.
1930 – John Jacques becomes a tutor
Mr Jacques was later chief executive of Portsea Island Co-operative Society, president of Co-operative Congress, chair of the Co-operative Union and was created Baron Jacques of Portsea Island in 1968. He was also responsible for bringing self-service stores to the UK.
1933 – Holyoake House extended
The College has been based here since 1919. With the extension, the College and Co-operative Union Education Department take over the whole of the original building.
1940-42 – During the second world war
The top floor of Holyoake House is destroyed in the Blitz and the College moves into its two hostels where it sets up demonstration shops. It introduces wartime correspondence classes; in 1942 agreement between
the military authorities, Red Cross and Order of St John enables British prisoners of war to continue their correspondence courses and have exams invigilated in the camps. It also adapts to wartime needs with short 10-week courses.
1943 – The College becomes a charitable trust
1945-46 – Stanford Hall
The College purchases and moves into its new home in Leicestershire.
1947-1966 – International outlook
The College has hosted international students from the start, but in 1947 students are sent by the Colonial Office from co-operative departments in different countries – and in 1951 there are learners from Jamaica, Finland, Sweden and Canada, supported by the British Council. In 1965-66 the College organises a three-month course for UNESCO fellows from India, Korea, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius and Nigeria on adult education and the education of co-operative members and employees.
1961 – Retail training
The College introduces intensive courses for departmental branch and self-service managers; supervisors in dairy and transport departments; instructors in member-service; directors, education committee members and part-time education secretaries.
1994 – Launch of the Report on Corporate Governance
This leads to a ‘code of best practice’ for the conduct of the affairs of co-ops, which is issued in 1995.
2000 – New archive material
The Co-operative Union Archive and the Robert Owen Museum transfers to the Co-operative College from the Co-operative Union.
2001 – Relocation back to Holyoake House, Manchester
2007 – Co-operative Heritage Trust
Established by the College, Co-operative Group and Co-operatives UK to care for the National Co-operative Archive and Rochdale Pioneers Museum.
2008 – Network of co-operative schools established
The network grows to 800. The College plays an integral role in establishing the Schools Co-operative Society.
2018 – A Co-operative University
The College establishes a Co-op University Working Group to lead the project, and applies for degree-awarding powers.
2019 – The centenary
Events, courses and projects are hosted to celebrating 100 years of transforming communities and changing lives.