Rochdale Pioneers Museum
The building at 31 Toad Lane is enshrined in history as the place where the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers started trading in 1844. This was an early consumer co-operative made up of skilled workers like weavers, who were being thrown into poverty by the increased mechanisation of the Industrial Revolution.
The aim was to provide high-quality basics like sugar, tea, butter, tobacco and flour at affordable prices, and the Rochdale Pioneers laid down the foundation for all modern co-operatives around the world.
The pioneers moved out of 31 Toad Lane in 1867, but the Co-operative Movement bought the building and turned it into a museum in 1931. The museum offers context, showing the climate in the mid-19th century, and outlining the principles of the textile manufacturer Robert Owen (1771-1858), one of the founders of utopian socialism and the co-operative movement.
You’ll learn how co-ops helped set the ball rolling for 20th-century reforms involving women’s rights, education and poverty.