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Rochdale Pioneers

Rochdale Pioneers is the name given to William Cooper, Charles Howarth, and the other 26 founders of the Co-operative movement, whose retail shop opened in Toad Lane in 1844. They had been encouraged by a lecture from George Holyoake the previous year on self-help. It began on a very small scale, opened only on Saturday and Monday evenings with the members serving in the shop. The principle on which they acted was that profits should be redistributed to purchasers by means of a dividend. By 1851 there were 130 similar shops and by 1862 450 co-operative enterprises. As the volume of business expanded, the original social, political, and educational objectives were pushed into the background by commercial considerations.

J. A. Cannon

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Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers

Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, one of the first consumers' cooperatives, founded in 1844 in Rochdale, England, by 28 Lancashire weavers. Influenced by the theories of Robert Owen, they opened a grocery store that was so successful that they were able to establish a cooperative factory and textile mill (see cooperative movements). Their rules combined a fixed interest on capital with a distribution of profits in proportion to purchases. This has remained the basic structure of consumers' cooperatives.

See J. Reeves, A Century of Rochdale Co-operation, 1844–1944 (1944).

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