Central England Co-op joins fundraiser for clock honouring Robert Owen

The clock would be installed at the society’s Belper store and reflect the reformer’s belief in an eight-hour working day

A group of co-operators, including independent retail society Central England, are raising funds for a clock to honour pioneering social reformer Robert Owen and his idea for an eight-hour working day.

A fundraiser with a target of £4,000 has been launched for the clock, which will be installed on Central England’s store in Belper – a Derbyshire town with historic links to Owen, the 19th century industrialist whose ideas make him an important forefather of the modern co-op movement.

Owen was an associate of William Strutt – the son of Jedediah Strutt, a partner of manufacturer and inventor Richard Arkwright – and his progressive ideas influenced the way the Strutt family developed their mill empire in Belper, making provision for employees and their families. 

The co-op movement has been commemorating the 250th anniversary of Owen’s birth, and his belief that society could be transformed peacefully and ordinary working people should be able to enjoy education, good health, decent living conditions and recreation.

Owen advocated a day split into eight hours work, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest – and the clock’s design is split into three segments representing the 24-hour period.

Its design features the face of Owen made up of concentric circles which rotate in opposite directions, lining up once an hour revealing the portrait – and a visual representation has been created for YouTube.

The campaigners say: “We are working with the co-operative movement to raise the funds of £12,000 for the construction and installation of the Robert Owen clock which will honour this great man, who laid the foundations of socialism, co-operation and co-operative living.

“In recent times during the pandemic, we have seen the benefits of working together and working co-operatively within communities, raising the living and working standards of people enhances community development and leads to more satisfying and creative lives for all. We hope that you will see the benefits of making a contribution towards this permanent visible and beautiful reminder of what can be achieved when we co-operate and share ideas.”

The project is being supported by Central England Co-op‘s Northern Membership and Community Council, which has already donated £3,000 towards the cost of producing the bespoke clock.

A spokesperson for Central England said: “We will be looking to install the clock at our Belper Food Store once it has been produced.”