‘Inspirational’ new film on The Rochdale Pioneers

A new film about the birth of the co-operative movement has been described as “inspirational” and “amazing” after being shown three times on Film4 since its premiere in Manchester during the Co-operatives United event a few weeks ago.

Rochdale Pioners posterThe Rochdale Pioneers’, made by the Co-operative British Youth Film Academy with a crew of under 30-year-olds, had its TV debut on Sunday 11 November and was repeated last Friday on 23 November at 11am and at 1.10am on Monday 26 November.

Starring John Henshaw, known for roles in Born and Bred, Early Doors and Looking for Eric, and John McArdle of Brookside, Gallowglass and Merseybeat fame, the films tells how the pioneers’ vision of a better social order inspired them to overcome prejudice, poverty and adversity to form The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1844 – recognised as the birth of the co-operative movement which today has an estimated one billion members worldwide.

The film was commissioned by The Co-operative Group, whose own origins trace back to The Rochdale Society, to mark the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, 2012 – a year dedicated to highlighting the significant contribution of co-operatives to world-wide socio-economic development, particularly their impact on poverty reduction, community cohesion, employment generation and social integration.

Mark Robinson-Field, The Co-operative’s national co-operative and membership manager, said: “In 1844 the original Rochdale Pioneers set out the principles that became the basis for how co-operatives around the world still operate to this day – a remarkable story of struggle against adversity that is just as relevant today – we believed that the time is right for this inspirational story to be re-told to a new generation.”

Co-op Revolution coverThe story of the co-operative movement is also told in a new graphic novel published by New Internationalist on behalf of The Co-operative.

The Co-operative Revolution: A Graphic Novel, created by the graphic novelist Polyp, was published on 28 September and immediately described as a “wonderful book” by Comic Review and a “rocket from Rochdale” by Guardian Online.

According to Comic Review: “This wonderful book – hopefully destined for every school library and history syllabus – using all the force and power which only comics narrative can provide, is a sterling example of what people can do when working together and in unity and one no fair-minded individual should miss.”

You can read other reviews here.


The Co-operative Revolution: A Graphic Novel is available to buy for £5.99 from New Internationalist, or you can read it free online at: http://www.co-operative.coop/graphic-novel/play

Click here for more about The Rochdale Pioneers film, including trailers, documentaries, photos and screenings.

You can also register your interest for the forthcoming DVD.

Click here for more on the International Year of Co-operatives.