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How co-ops began

Photograph of the Rochdale Pioneers from 1865

Its 175 years since the first commercially successful co-op was founded.

How did the first successful co-op start?

The first successful co-op was formed in 1844 in Rochdale, Lancashire. At that time, living conditions in northern industrial towns were tough. Flour, sugar, butter and oats were expensive. Often, milk was watered down and mill owners mixed their flour with sawdust to increase their profits. 

A group of 28 working-class men decided to change this. They raised the funds to set up a co-operative shop that provided good quality products to the community – at a fair price.

The Rochdale Pioneers

The Rochdale Pioneers – as they are now commonly known – spurred on a movement that has spread throughout the world and continues to thrive today. 


Visit the Rochdale Pioneers Museum
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