Manchester Metropolitan University’s Co-operative Network, Co-operative College and Rochdale Pioneers Museum host a “pop-up” in Rochdale town centre collecting public responses about Rochdale today and its history in the co-operative movement.

The Reimagining Rochdale event stems from discussions within the Co-operative Research Network at MMU, which brings together academics from across the university with partners from the Co-operative College, Rochdale Pioneers Museum and Co-operatives UK (see below). As the birthplace of the modern co-operative movement, Rochdale was deemed an ideal location for this research. Rochdale recently made headlines as the city most on a downward trend in the Joseph Roundtree Foundation’s ‘Uneven growth: tackling city decline’; whilst local councilors sought to correct this evaluation suggesting the data was out of date, it is unclear what the people of Rochdale actually feel about their town. By posing the question of ‘What makes Rochdale great?’, the event seeks to focus on the positive as a counter to negative press, giving a voice to local people and gathering responses around public needs and interests that can feed into future research.

The event aims to collect responses to questions about Rochdale today, its history in the co-operative movement and gather ideas about ‘what makes Rochdale great?’, giving a voice to local people and collecting as wide a range of responses as possible. We also plan to employ an engagement officer to capture responses through visual minutes and an oral historian to record audio responses. The collation of oral narrative soundbites and visual minutes aims to engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds. In addition to asking people on the streets of the town, the organisers will contact ‘gatekeepers’ (Local Authority, Town Council staff, religious leaders, Link4Life, local businesses, attendees at the Rochdale SOUP initiative at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, etc.) to ask them to publicise and attend the event to gather a broad range of responses.

The Network will consider the range and scope of responses, and what is excluded, to get a sense of the most pressing issues in the town and form a pilot study for future events and longitudinal research in the town. This will inform future collaborative research proposals that seek to engage with the issues

Working in partnership with Rochdale Pioneers Museum offers a physical manifestation of the heritage of the co-operative movement. It will assist with the museum’s community engagement work and provides an opportunity to gather community knowledge of co-operations in history and today. The collaboration with Rochdale Pioneers Museum will also ensure the academics involved in the research are working alongside an organisation on the ground in Rochdale with a heart for the local community.

Co-operative Network at MMU: Prof. Jim Aulich (Manchester School of Art), Dr Andrea Bernadi (Business
School), Dr Michael Bull (Business School), Dr Geoff Bright (Education), Dr Fiona Cosson (History), Dr Keith Crome (History), Prof. Steve Dixon (Manchester School of Art), Dr Linda Hammersley-Fletcher (Education), Prof. Joanna Hodge (Philosophy), Dr Olga Kuznetsova (Business School), Prof. John Schostak
(formerly Education), Prof. Melanie Tebbutt (History),

Partners from the Co-operative College/Rochdale Pioneers Museum/Co-Operatives UK: Dr Sarah Alldred, John Atherton, Dr Amanda Benson, Jordan Diggle, Rebecca Harvey, Claire Hirst, Elena Rowe, Dr Cilla Ross, Sophie Stewart.

The event is planned for Spring 2017, details and location to be confirmed.



Event contact: Alison Slater ·

Event website: