A short history of the co-op movement

Co-operation is an innate human trait and Co-operatives have also been around for a very long time.

The origin of the current co-operative model and co-operative movement are generally taken to be the rise of Co-operative Retail Societies in the UK in the mid-19th Century.

There are examples of earlier successful co-operative enterprise, such as the Fenwick Weavers' Society founded in 1761, however the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society, who opened their first shop in Rochdale in 1844 are generally taken to be the first successful co-operative.

The founder members of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society were visionary campaigners for social change and it was their hard work to promote the model and assist others to create their own Societies that was to lead to the rapid growth in the Co-operative movement across the UK and the world.

One of the key success factors of the Pioneers, and their particular model of co-operation, was the development of clear co-operative values and principles known as the “Rochdale Principles”.

Those Rochdale Principles have evolved into the Values and Principles adopted by the global co-operative movement and embodied in the Statement of the Co-operative Identity published by the International Co-operative Alliance.

Updated: 15/02/2017