The Co-operative Movement has its roots in the Lancashire textile town of Rochdale, in Northern England, where, in 1844, harsh living conditions and inadequate consumer protection inspired 28 working people to adopt a new approach to the supply of food and other goods.

They scraped together a meagre capital and opened a shop in Toad Lane, where they sold wholesome food at reasonable prices.

They called it the ROCHDALE EQUITABLE PIONEERS SOCIETY. Founded on these principles:

*One member, one vote;

*Equality of the sexes amongst membership;

*Only pure provisions should be sold, in full weight and measure;

*The allocation of a "divi" (dividend) to members, guaranteeing that all profits were divided pro rata depending on the size of purchases made by individual members.

They were regarded as dangerous radicals and weren't universally welcomed - on learning that 31 Toad Lane would be rented by a co-op, the local gas company had refused to turn on the gas. As a result, the co-op added candles to its list of 5 items to sell. Others were flour, oatmeal, sugar and butter.

The name Toad Lane has nothing to do with frog-like creatures - it is probably Lancashire dialect for "Th'Owd Lane" (The Old Lane).

Rochdale, my birthplace