Time Machine

Scroll down the time line to find out about important dates, people and places in the history of the co-operative movement. You can also click on the buttons to see what happened in a particular year. Begin your journey.

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The Fenwick Weavers Society which was set up to foster high standards in the weaving craft expanded to include collective purchasing of bulk food items and books. It is the earliest co-operative retail society for which records survive.


Birth of Robert Owen, known as the Father of Co-operation, Owen was a social reformer and philanthropist who wished to improve conditions for factory workers and promote an ideal way of living through co-operative communities.


William King started publication of the Co-operator, which was highly influential on the development of co-operation in Britain and reflected the ideas of Robert Owen.


Early co-operative congresses were held, the first in Manchester. They were also known as the Owenite congresses.


Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society founded by a group of 28 men who wanted to improve their working and living conditions and sell honest food at honest prices. This is known as the beginning of the modern co-operative movement.


Co-operatives are recognised under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act.


Pitman's Co-operator is published which provides articles on co-operative endeavours.


Establishment of the Co-operative Wholesale Society in Manchester. Its purpose was to supply a range of goods to the growing number of retail co-operative societies. These goods included food items, clothing and furniture.


Co-operative Insurance Company set up in Rochdale to provide fire insurance to co-operative societies. In 1899 this became an Industrial and Provident Society and changed its name to Co-operative Insurance Society.


Establishment of Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society.


The first annual Co-operative Congress was held, leading to the formation of the Co operative Union to support and promote co-operative societies.


The first issue of the Co-operative News was produced


The Co-operative Bank was founded as the Loan and Deposit Department of the Co operative Wholesale Society, becoming the CWS Bank four years later.


Women's Co-operative Guild was established. The Guild was involved in campaigns such as women's health, maternity and the vote. These issues were discussed in their magazine Women's Outlook.


The International Co-operative Alliance was founded to represent co-operatives around the world. The first meeting was held in London and attended by delegates from all over the world.


The Co-operative Party was set up to give co-operatives a political voice and representation in Parliament following problems during the First World War.


Establishment of the Co-operative College to provide education to employees and members of co operative societies.


Foundation of the Woodcraft Folk, a national organisation of youth groups supported by the co-operative movement.


The London Co-operative Society conducted the first experiment into self-service stores.


The Centenary of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society was celebrated by societies staging a pageant that was written especially to mark the event.


the Independent Commission was set up with the aim of investigating the strengths and weaknesses of co-operative production and marketing in wholesale and retail. It then produced a report of recommendations.


A new logo was introduced by the Co-operative Wholesale Society for use by all co operative societies


The Co-operative Commission was set up to look at the strategy and structures of the co-operative movement.


The Co-operative Wholesale Society changes its name to the Co-operative Group.


The Co-operative Group switched all own-brand coffee to Fairtrade, returning an extra £1m each year to coffee farmers in the developing world.