It is 170 years since the birth of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society, which inspired people around the world to set up their own co-operatives.
To commemorate the the first official board meeting of the 28 pioneers, on 11 August 1844, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum has planned a series of celebration days.
The museum, based at the pioneers’ store in Toad Lane, is also publishing a blog on the anniversary of each original meeting, detailing what the first co-operators discussed during their first year while they set up the store.
One of the first official actions of the society was to decide who would run the co-operative. John Holt was appointed treasurer; James Daly, secretary; and Miles Ashworth, president. A week later, on 15 August 1844, the directors resolved that 15 August should be its date of establishment, and that it should buy a minute and register book.
On 5 September, Ashworth, along with directors Charles Howarth and James Smithies, were appointed to estimate the cost of stocking a store.
At another meeting, on 27 October, they decided to print 250 copies of the society’s rulebook, setting out the Rochdale Principles that later on developed into the values and principles embraced by co-operatives all over the world.
Within two more weeks, on 7 November, the directors were asked to find a suitable house for the store. On 21 November, they identified a vacant warehouse belonging to a Mr Dunlop, for which they later agreed a rent of £10 over a three-year term.
On 12 December, it was noted that the first purchases were flour, butter, sugar and oatmeal. Following the admission of more members, the Toad Lane store opened on 21 December 1844.
The Pioneers Museum will be holding a celebration on 17 December with mulled wine and mince pies and a lecture on the minute book.
Museum manager Jennifer Mabbott, said: “Since the museum re-opening in October 2012, the museum volunteers have been working hard to transcribe the first minute book. The 170th anniversary of the pioneers’ first meeting seemed like a perfect time to celebrate and make the minute book available to the public.
“The minute book offers a fascinating insight into the hard work of the pioneers in the months leading up to the opening of the store on 21 December 1844, from the drafting of the important rules of the society to their struggles to find premises.”
• More information on the events marking the 170th anniversary is available online at www.rochdalepioneersmuseum.coop.