How we were formed

The history of the Rochdale Pioneers is what all co-operatives have in common. They created the values and principles which underpin the modern movement. In order to safeguard the history and heritage of the movement, the Co-operative Heritage Trust was formed in 2007, bringing the museum and archive together. The Trust was formed by three major co-operative founders to be an independent charity in order to safeguard the heritage of the movement for the future.

Our founders

31 Toad Lane was first opened as a museum in 1931, and was cared for by the Co-operative Union, which is now known as Co-operatives UK (the apex body for co-operative organisations).

The archival and library collections were held by the Co-operative College, which was created in 1919 to provide training and education for British co-operators and still exists to provide support and development in the UK and overseas.

The Co-operative Group was created from a number of mergers with the Co-operative Wholesale Society or CWS which was first formed in 1863. It is now one of the largest consumer retail co-operatives in the world and the UK's fifth largest food retailer.

To find out more about our founders click on these links