History of the Co-operative Movement

The Story of the Pioneers

The past, present and future of co-operation are colourfully brought to life in this short animated film.

Animated characters and archive images tell the story of co-operation, starting with the Rochdale Pioneers opening the first successful co-operative shop on Toad Lane in 1844. The film goes on to show how co-operation grew and spread across the country and the diversity of today’s global movement of 1 billion members.

The film explains key concepts such as the co-operative values, one member one vote and the dividend, and shows the importance of education to the co-operative movement. It demonstrates how co-operatives were ‘ahead of their time’, noting that people would have been able to vote in co-operative societies before they could vote in general elections, women had equal voting rights and co-operatives were early champions of the minimum wage, pensions and working rights. It also highlights today’s co-operatives’ support for Fairtrade. The film ends back at Toad Lane, inviting viewers to visit the Rochdale Pioneers Museum.