Film showcasing birth of co-operative movement in UK to get TV premiere

Still from new film

Still from new film

A new film telling the story of the birth of the co-operative movement in Rochdale in 1844 is set for its TV premiere on 11 November 2012.

The Rochdale Pioneers tells of the 28 men who battled a backdrop of poverty and prejudice and whose principals are still changing the world almost 170 years later.

The film – based on a true story – stars John Henshaw, known for roles in Born and Bred, Early Doors and Looking for Eric and John McArdle, of Brookside, Gallowglass and Prime Suspect fame; and is set to receive its TV Premiere on Film4 on 11 November 2012 as part of the channel’s British Connection Season.

It has been commissioned by The Co-operative Group – whose own origins can be traced back to the Rochdale Pioneers – and, produced by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy, itself a co-operative whose directing duo of Adam Lee Hamilton and John Montegrande recruited many of the cast and crew from the local community to work alongside established actors.

The TV screening follows the film’s international premiere in Manchester on 1 November 2012 – close to the site of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, where friends and family of some of the Rochdale Pioneers were among the 80,000 strong crowd charged by cavalry when they gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.

It was the Rochdale Pioneers’ vision for a better social order which inspired them to overcome such adversity to form the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society – establishing a co-operative shop in Toad Lane, Rochdale in December 1844 that is recognised as the birth of the co-operative movement. From these humble beginnings it is estimated there are now 1.4m independent co-operative enterprises worldwide, with almost one billion members.

Mark Robinson-Field, The Co-operative’s national co-operative and membership manager, said: ”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 believe the time is right for this inspirational story to be re-told to a new generation.”

The film was made to mark the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives – a year dedicated to highlighting the contribution of co-operatives to world-wide socio-economic development, particularly their impact on poverty reduction, community cohesion, employment generation and social integration.