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You are here: Home » News » Animated co-operative film

New short film on history of co-operation

Still from Men of Rochdale

Accrington-based creative film company Huckleberry Films is making a short animation that will bring the story of the Rochdale Pioneers to life. It will trace the history of co-operation from 1844, when the Pioneers set up their shop in Toad Lane, Lancashire, to the present day and use heritage to look forward to the future.

As part of their research, Caroline and Dave from Huckleberry Films spent a morning at the National Co-operative Archive in Manchester. Writing on their blog, they said: “Some of these old faded books will be perfect for using as textures and backgrounds, and the articles were fascinating – it was easy to get distracted just reading them!”

They have also been watching historic co-operative films for inspiration, including Men of Rochdale, which is held in the National Co-operative Film Archive at the Co-operative College.

They said: “We watched two DVDs about the history of co-operatives which featured some amazing old video clips to help us get a stronger idea of how the movement started and has evolved, to have one trillion members as it does today. The films included a great one called Men of Rochdale, made in 1944 to celebrate 100 years since the first store opened on Toad Lane in Rochdale. Some of the accents were a little dodgy – but the story was engaging and brought the history to life for us.

“Watching the films it was easy to fill pages with sketches of characters and ideas – and it soon became clear that we are going to have to be really selective over the material that will make it into our short animation. We are covering nearly 170 years of event-filled history in just a few minutes, and there are a lot of dates and facts that it would be good to include...but we can't fit everything in.”

The film was commissioned by the Outreach Team (part of the Heritage Lottery-funded ROCHDALE Project) at the Co-operative College to be shown at a high-profile, VIP international event on 29 October in Manchester. The film will introduce the concept for the evening, which will celebrate the UK’s wealth of different co-operative communities, the diversity of international co-operatives and how communities use co-operation to succeed socially.

Follow the film's progress, including brainstorming, photos, storyboards, ideas and doodles, on Huckleberry Films' blog at and on the Rochdale Pioneers Museum blog at