Rochdale Pioneers Museum – Manchester, England - Atlas Obscura
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Manchester, England

Rochdale Pioneers Museum

A museum of co-operativism housed in the birthplace of the modern movement. 

On December 21, 1844, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society opened the doors to their first shop on 31 Toad Lane. While there were earlier co-operative groups, the Rochdale group became the prototype for other societies, as they were responsible for a set of principles for co-operation called the Rochdale Principles.

The Rochdale Principles—voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training, and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for the community—are still used by co-operatives around the world today.

While the society moved out to purpose-built premises in 1867, in 1925 the Co-Operative Union purchased the building with the plan to create a museum in the birthplace of co-operation. The museum eventually opened in 1931. The building is so important to the movement that a replica was built in the Co-operative College in Kobe, Japan.

The front of the museum is a recreation of the original shop, including furniture, weighing scales, and items that were for sale. The rest of the floor is dedicated to the history of the movement, with a temporary exhibition space located upstairs.

Know Before You Go

The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It's closed to the public Sunday through Tuesday.

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