The Rochdale Pioneers

2012, 58 minutes

Account of the creation of The Co operative

The Rochdale Pioneers is a true story that marks the conception of the modern co-operative movement. Rochdale 1844 - the streets are ridden with poverty and pessimism. Unemployment and ill health cripple a society that is losing faith in itself. People try and fail to take power for themselves. William Cooper, his new wife Betty and best friend Samuel Ashworth are three young people fighting for their future. At a meeting in The Weavers' Arms Cooper and Ashworth join the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers led by Charles Howarth, Miles Ashworth, James Smithies, John Holt and James Daly. The Rochdale Pioneers propose opening a shop that is run by co-operation; an endeavor that has at its heart the interests of the community. They forge a set of principals by which the business must be run. Butterworth, a private shop owner, vehemently dejects local wholesalers from trading with The Pioneers, threatening to sever business if they strike a deal. One such wholesaler, Leach, forms an allegiance with Butterworth in a bid to bring down the co-operative movement. With no goods to fill their shop at 31 Toad Lane, The Pioneers resolve that a venture to Manchester market is their only means of success. Cooper and Ashworth are the lads to take on the task, while old John Holt is sent to keep an eye on quality. And so they head off into the Lancashire countryside. Wheelbarrow in tow and cash in hand, the future of The Rochdale Pioneers is to be decided that evening, when 31 Toad Lane opens to the public...


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