Cheese Counter

Cheese Counter

Entrance

Entrance

 

The museum is housed in the original shop. The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers was a group of 28 that was formed in 1844. Around half were weavers in Rochdale, Lancashire, England. As the mechanisation of the Industrial Revolution was forcing more and more skilled workers into poverty, these tradesmen decided to band together to open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. With lessons from prior failed attempts at co-operation in mind, they designed the now famous Rochdale Principles, and over a period of four months they struggled to pool £1 per person for a total of 28 pounds of capital. On 21 December 1844, they opened their store with a very meagre selection of butter, sugar, flour, oatmeal and a few candles. Within three months, they expanded their selection to include tea and tobacco, and they were soon known for providing high quality, unadulterated goods. Ten years later, the British co-operative movement had grown to nearly 1,000 co-operatives. In fact the Fenwick Weavers Society, which was set in 1769 up to foster high standards in the weaving craft and expanded to include collective purchasing of bulk food items and books, is the earliest co-operative retail society for which records survive.

 

In 1852 Co-operatives are recognised under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act and in 1860 Pitman's Co-operator is published which provides articles on co-operative endeavours. The Co-operative Wholesale Societywas established in Manchester in 1863. Its purpose was to supply a range of goods to the growing number of retail co-operative societies. These goods included food items, clothing and furniture. The museum is a recreation of the original shop, containing its rudimentary furniture, scales, items that were sold at the store, etc. Moreover, the museum transmits the influence of the co-operative movement on issues such as women's rights, poverty, education, fair trade and social reform. In the 1970s, the Museum was closed for some years because structural problems were found in the building but it was successfully restored. Rochdale Council redeveloped the remaining section of Toad Lane outside of the building, which had been a cul-de-sac since the 1960s, the new characteristics of the area were street cobbled, flanked by 19th-century gas lamps and unique Victorian post-box. The Museum is fully accessible for wheelchairs and buggies. There is level access to the front door of the Museum and a lift which enables full access to each floor. The floor surface on the ground floor is traditional slate. On the first floor, there is an accessible toilet and baby changing facilities. Please be aware that the front door is not automatic and Toad Lane is a traditional cobbled street with stone kerbs and flagged pavements. Guide dogs are welcome and water bowls are available from reception. Object handling sessions are currently being developed and will be available soon.

 

Location : 31 Toad Ln, Rochdale OL12 0NU

Transport: Rochdale (National Rail). Rochdale (Metrolink). Bus routes 438 and 444 stop nearby.

Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00

Tickets: Free

Tel: 01706 524920