2019 is a landmark moment for us here at the College as we celebrate our centenary. To start us off, we've created a timeline featuring some of the people and events that helped shape us into the organisation we are today.


The importance of education to co-operators is apparent even at this early stage. This is made clear in a letter from Charles Fry, who at the time was a key member of the Liverpool Co-operative Wholesale Purchasing Agency. He wrote the correspondence below to the editor of the British Co-operator.

..it is proposed to found a school or college for the co-operators of this district.

Charles Fry

Letter from Charles Fry

This is the first time that the idea of a Co-operative College is proposed and the idea begins to gather speed, albeit rather slowly!


The modern co-operative movement is born, led by the Rochdale Pioneers. By the mid 1860s a standard model of how to set up a co-operative is published, ensuring that others who want to follow in the footsteps of the Pioneers are following a defined plan.


The Co-operative Union Education Department is formed, marking the first time that education is formalised centrally within the movement. 


Fred Hall begins to write extensively in favour of establishing a Co-operative College, with the idea now gradually gathering support from across the movement.


On the 11 November Holyoake House, our present home, is opened. The building is seen as an ideal home for teaching and education, with preparations made for equipping part of the building for this purpose.

Article featuring the opening of Holyoake House


Professor Fred Hall, who would later go on to become our first ever principal, is appointed Adviser of Studies by the Co-operative Union's Education Department.


A Co-operative Congress Resolution is passed and the College is founded!

... a Co-operative College is essential to the welfare and development of the co-operative movement... no worthier memorial of those co-operators who have served and fallen in the war could be established than an institution for the dissemination of the principles of co-operation and harmony in industrial and international relationships.

Co-operative Congress Resolution, 1919

Fred Hall is installed as our first ever principal and the first students pass through our doors. Here's one of the earliest images taken of students and staff outside Holyoake House.

College students and staff 1930

Read more about our centenary and take a look at just some of what we've got planned for 2019 over in the dedicated centenary area of our website. Simply click the button below.

See our centenary plans