The ROCHDALE Project


The ROCHDALE project enabled the Co-operative Heritage Trust to move from safeguarding and preserving co-operative heritage to using it to inspire a wider public about the extraordinary history and development of the worldwide co-operative movement, its heritage and contemporary relevance. This transformed the collections of the Rochdale Pioneers Museum and National Co-operative Archive through:

  • Preservation and ensuring their long term care.
  • Increasing access by widening the audience and overcoming barriers.
  • The development of new interpretive displays, developing educational materials and building relationships with the education sector.
  • Developing the staffing capacity of Museum and Archive.

By addressing each of these areas through the project the Trust has transformed the Museum and Archive into resources that will – in the words of the Co-operative Heritage Trust’s Mission Statement:

Inspire people within and beyond the co-operative movement about the origins, development and contemporary relevance of co-operation by collecting, safeguarding and making accessible artefacts and documentation through lifelong learning and research.

Artist's impression of revised museum exterior

Artist’s impression of revised museum exterior

The overall cost of the project was £2.3 million and the Trust received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of £1.5 million with further funding from the J Paul Getty Junior and Esmee Fairbairn Trusts, the Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust

The work included physical changes at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, restoring part of the third floor that was removed during the 1970s refurbishments in order to provide a dedicated ‘Learning Loft’ education space and building an extension to hold a new staircase and lift to give full access to all parts of the Museum. The project also involved conservation work and outreach to enable new audiences to experience the collections.


The Archive holds many unique and priceless collections

The Co-operative Heritage Trust was established in 2007 by Co-operatives UK, the Co operative Group and the Co-operative College and the trustees are appointed by these organisations. It is a registered charity (number 1121610). The charitable objectives of the Trust are for the preservation, protection and improvement for the public benefit of the Museum building and collections and the Archive collections and the encouragement of the provision of access to, and the study of, the Museum and the Museum and Archive collections.

The Rochdale Pioneers Museum building and collections and the Archive collections have been assigned to the Trust. The Museum and Archive are managed by the Co-operative College under a management agreement.

For more information please contact Liz McIvor  Co-operative Heritage Trust Manager by email at [email protected] or call her on 01706 524910.