In 2012 a booklet was published by Rochdale Council in conjunction with Coop Funeralcare and the Cooperative Heritage Trust. The booklet followed a trail around Rochdale Cemetery created in 1994, which links 17 graves, 15 of which were from the original group of 28 co-operators and two other early members of the society.  

11 years after the booklets publication, staff members from Rochdale Pioneers Museum and their lagomorphic mascot set out to see if the trail was still navigable and to explore the final resting places of the men whose stories are told in the museum. 

 RPM staff set out to find the pioneer graves

At the main entrance to the cemetery is a display stand showing the route of the trail, although slightly overgrown it still shows the route to take to find all 17 graves. It's worth noting that the QR code shown on the display is no longer active. 

 Trail Map Display at entrance to Rochdale Cemetary

Most graves are also signposted from the paths with these small markers, making them slightly easier to find- although some markers were missing, namely those for John Collier and Benjamin Rudman. 

Directional Marker for the grave of John Bent

There were many twists and turns on our journey around the cemetery, including a couple of wrong turns! These weren’t too bad though, because there were so many things to see and explore in this beautiful old space. The cemetery opened in 1855 and is dotted with beautiful monuments, as well as sample stone displays from the stonemasons operating in the area. 

View across Rochdale Cemetery

Our adventure around the graveyard in Rochdale on a beautiful September afternoon led to some fascinating discussions about the men and women who shaped the modern co-operative movement and their endeavours to make the world a fairer place for everyone.  

 RPM staff exploring the cemetery


A digital copy of the booklet we followed can be found here: