Rochdale Pioneers

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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

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