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.