Rochdale: Walk in the footsteps of Pioneers

One of the highlights at Co-operatives United is the opportunity to connect with Rochdale - the birthplace of the modern co-operative movement.

One of the highlights at Co-operatives United is the opportunity to connect with Rochdale – the birthplace of the modern co-operative movement.

To celebrate being named the World Capital of Co-operatives by the International Co-operative Alliance at last year's General Assembly in Mexico, there are a number of events planned with connections to the Rochdale Pioneers.

On Monday, the Pioneers Museum, Toad Lane, the site of the first co-operative store opened in 1844, will receive its official opening following an extensive refurbishment. Following this, Rochdale Borough Council will host the ICA board for a dinner at the Town Hall.

The museum will also be open for tours during the week, where delegates can view co-operative memorabilia and learn more about the movement's history.

Thursday night will see a gala premiere of ‘The Rochdale Pioneers’ film, which tells how the Pioneers’ vision for a better social order inspired them to overcome prejudice and adversity to form the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society.

The film was commissioned by the Co-operative Group and Mark Robinson-Field, the society’s National Co-operative and Membership Manager and the film's Executive Producer, said: ”The original Rochdale Pioneers set out the principles that became the basis for how co-operatives around the world still operate to this day.

“It is a remarkable story of struggle against adversity that is just as relevant today and we believe that the time is right for this inspirational story to be re-told to a new generation.”

A graphic novel entitled, 'The Co-operative Revolution', will also be available during the week. The book honours the memory of The Pioneers by bringing together the past, present and future of a movement that currently has one billion people as members.

The book was created for the Co-operative Group and authored by cartoonist Polyp, also known as Paul Fitzgerald. Polyp draws cartoons for the co-op magazine, the New Internationalist and lives and works in an art/housing co-operative in Manchester.

He explained that he had always wanted to write a positive story of co-operation: “People seem to be constantly feeling that we’re in the middle of this crisis and trying to make the world a better place is pointless. There’s that pessimism that is ingrained into our culture and this is an attempt to go against that.”

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at the Co-operative Group and one of the editors of the novel, explained that they wanted to show the real story of the co-operative movement through this book. He explained that the Pioneers “were genuine radicals in their communities, the equivalent of these would be the people sitting outside the cathedral of their day".

In this article

Join the Conversation