About the project: Working Together

Capturing the heritage of the workers’ co-operative movement, 1970s-1990s.

The Working Together Project began in September 2017. This year long project aimed to collate material relating to workers’ co-operatives of the 1970s-1990s and make it accessible to a wide audience.

The project stemmed out of the recognition that the majority of the collections held at the National Co-operative Archive related to the consumer co-operative movement, with a lack of material relating specifically to workers’ co-operatives.

It was also recognised that if attempts weren’t made to collect this material at this point in time, it might be permanently lost.

Holyoake House

Scoping and collating material

The first stage of the project focused on locating what material existed, and where. Much of the material was still held by individuals, often in cupboards and attics.

This task involved members of the project steering committee, who have all been involved in the workers’ co-operative movement, drawing up a list of contacts and co-operatives.

Workers’ co-operative directories, c.1980s

Also useful for this scoping exercise were directories from the 1970s-1990s listing workers’ co-operatives from across the UK.

From this original list the scoping exercise snowballed, with those intially contacted passing information on to others involved in the workers’ co-operative movement.

Many of those contacted held material relating to workers’ co-operatives that they were happy to deposit, either at the National Co-operative Archive, or a local archive or record centre.

Oral histories

Co-ops Fair, Beechwood, 1981. Photograph by Martin Stott.

Alongside this material, a number of oral histories with key individuals involved in the workers’ co-operative movement were also collected.

These allowed for more personal recollections of the workers co-operative movement of the 1970s-90s to be recorded.

These interviews took place across the UK with individuals being interviewed from organisations including: Delta-T Devices, On the 8th Day, and Greencity Wholefoods.

Making material accessible

Co-ops Fair, Beechwood, Leeds, 1982.Photograph by Martin Stott

Once the material and oral histories had been collected the next step was to make these more accessible to a wide audience through the following activities:

Digitisation: Key images have been digitised and uploaded to our project Flickr.

A selection of oral history interviews have also been digitised and are available online.

Cataloguing: Descriptions of workers’ co-operative material available to consult at the National Co-operative Archive are now available to view on our online catalogue.

Workers’ Co-operative Wikipedia: The workers’ co-operative archive Wikipedia page will act as a guide to sources held across the UK  relating to the heritage of the UK workers’ co-operative movement.

Learning Materials: A number of learning resources and case studies were developed to provide a brief introduction to the workers’ co-operative movement 1970s-1990s.

Exhibition: The exhibition was created with the help of project volunteers and those involved in workers’ co-operatives. It will be displayed at various locations across the UK throughout 2018.


Lucy, one of the project volunteers cataloguing material.

The project has been made possible with the hard work of our volunteers.

Volunteers have been involved in tasks including: locating material; conducting oral history interviews; creating transcripts and summaries of interviews, and digitising and cataloguing collections.


We’d like to thank all the project volunteers for their invaluable work.

To find out more please see the links in the sidebar.

This project was made possible with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and generous donations from the following current workers’ co-operatives and co-operative organisations.

Amiel and Melburn Trust ; Co-operative Business Consultants (CBC) ; Co-opportunity; Dulas ; Greencity Wholefoods; Greenwich Leisure ; Lipman-Miliband Trust; Network for Social Change; Richard Bickle; Solidarity Economy Association; Suma; Unicorn Grocery; Urbed; Worker Co-operative Solidarity Fund.