The Co-operative College was established in 1919 as an adult and staff training centre for the co-operative movement and was initially based in the Co-operative Union building, Holyoake House, Manchester. Under the guidance of the Principal, Professor Fred Hall MA, it attracted large numbers of students, including many from overseas co-operatives.
During the Second World War, the Training Centre on the top floor of Holyoake House was destroyed during the Manchester Blitz, making replacement premises imperative.
The College, together with the Education Department of the Co-operative Union, relocated to Stanford Hall in time for the start of the first term of the 1945/6 session. In 1946, Dr Robert Marshall, OBE, MA, became the Principal and Chief Executive Officer and built up the reputation of the College as a national and international educational institution. Over many years a growing number of students from former colonial territories and Commonwealth countries attended College programmes. The College also ran residential courses in social/economic subjects for adult learners, and a wide range of retail and management courses for co-operative employees.
In 2001 Stanford Hall was sold and the College relocated to its original home, Holyoake House in Manchester.
The Co-operative College collection comprises records created throughout the College’s history.