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New animated film on co-operation

New Pioneers film still

The past, present and future of co-operation have been colourfully brought to life in a new, short animated film. Accrington-based Huckleberry Films used a combination of animated characters and archive images to trace the story of co-operation, starting with the Rochdale Pioneers opening the first successful co-operative shop in Toad Lane in 1844. The film goes on to show how co-operation grew and spread across the country and the diversity of today’s global movement of 1 billion members.

New Pioneers film still

The film, which is entitled New Pioneers, encompasses key concepts such as the co-operative values, one member one vote and the dividend, and shows the importance of education to the co-operative movement. It demonstrates how co-operatives were ‘ahead of their time’, noting that people would have been able to vote in co-operative societies before general elections existed, women had equal voting rights and co-operatives were early champions of the minimum wage, pensions and working rights. It also highlights today’s Co-operative’s support for Fairtrade.

New Pioneers film still

The film ends back at Toad Lane, inviting viewers to visit the soon to be reopened Rochdale Pioneers Museum. It invites them to become ’21st century pioneers’, describing co-operation as ‘a new way of living and working’ and saying: “It’s now our time to move towards a brighter, more co-operative future and improve our lives and the lives of others.”


Accrington-based Huckleberry Films undertook research for the project at the National Co-operative Archive in Manchester and watched 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.

New Pioneers film still

New Pioneers film still

New Pioneers film still

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 in Manchester. The film introduced the concept for the evening, which celebrated the UK’s wealth of different co-operative communities, the diversity of international co-operatives and how communities use co-operation to succeed socially.

Watch the film: