Robert Owen community centre opens in social reformers’ home town

A community resource centre has opened in the name of Robert Owen to commemorate the co-operative social reformer’s birthday. Born in 1771, Robert Owen was one of the...

A community resource centre has opened in the name of Robert Owen to commemorate the co-operative social reformer’s birthday.

Born in 1771, Robert Owen was one of the founders of utopian socialism and the early co-operative movement. In 1800, he bought the New Lanark mills where he focused on principles by improving working conditions.

One such act was the opening of a store where workers could buy goods at a price only slightly above wholesale cost. Workers shared in the savings from bulk purchases and also formed one of the early ideas for a co-operative business.

More than 240 years later, Newtown, the place of Robert Owen’s birth and death, will mark his birthday with the opening of the Robert Owen Centre.

The building, which houses the Robert Owen Museum and council offices, will be opened at 7pm on 17 May, with the unveiling of a plaque and a talk about the role the building will play in the future of Newtown.

Following the official opening, refreshments will be available in the town council chamber.

As part of Museums at Night celebrations across the UK, the museum will be open to visitors from 6-9pm, with a tour given by the curator.

The centre will serve as the museum entrance, town council offices, community resource centre, museum archive, visitor information point and reading room. The museum and town council worked together on the initiative, with support from the Sarah Briscoe Trust, to create a welcome point for visitors.

Town mayor Rina Clarke said: “I am thrilled to have been part of the redevelopment of this historic building. On behalf of the town council I would like to express our pleasure in opening its doors to all who live in our lovely town, as well as visitors to the area.”

Pat Brandwood, museum curator, added: “The museum and owen’s role in the history of ideas are something the people of Newtown should be proud of. Bringing the museum closer to the people of Newtown and using the space to serve them in practical ways is something I am sure Owen would have approved of.”

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