News about a recent donation

The archive team are delighted to have received a donation into the collections of personal letters and scrapbooks belonging to George Healey. George was one of the first arbitrators for the society and his trade was that of silk manufacturer and hatter in 1844. He later went on to establish a successful silk plush weaving firm and set up the Rochdale Observer in May of 1856 and later became a Rochdale Councillor for Wardleworth.

Sophie McCulloch, our Archivist explains more about the items donated by a descendant of George's:

"George was one of the original 28 members of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society who set up the shop at 31 Toad Lane. Although Healey left Rochdale at some point in the late 1860's to live in Bowness -on -Windermere, Cumbria, he remained in contact with figures in the movement. His letters include those to John Bright, George Jacob Holyoake and Richard Cobden. 

We already hold related material in the Dorothy Greaves and Holyoake collections, including George Healey's own corrections to Holyoake's notes in his history of the Pioneers. Interestingly, there are some articles in which his status as one of the 28 is disputed, but these are refuted in the letters sent to him and newspaper clippings he kept in the books which date from the 1850's to the 1890's."

It is clear from the books that Healey remained interested and involved in social movements and even that he seems to have been part of the setting up of the co-operative movement in Italy, having travelled there and had involvement in the British campaign to support Giuseppe Marie Garibaldi. The figure credited with enabling the unification of Italy, Garibaldi himself was a Victorian working class hero. All over the country, his image appeared on crockery, he had pubs and even a popular biscuit named after him.

This colour invitation is in fantastic condition and shows the open River Roch below the Town Hall concourse. Healey also received other invitations to events including the Reformer's banquet at the Manchester Free Trade Hall.