This is one of a series of Heritage Trails jointly produced by Link4Life, the Rochdale borough-wide cultural trust, and the Co-operative Heritage Trust. This organisation’s mission is to preserve the heritage assets of the co-operative movement in the UK, which began in the Rochdale area in 1844.
The Middleton and Tonge Industrial Co-operative Society opened their first store in 1850 in Little Park. The Central Store with its decorative clock was built in 1871 on Long Street, and was probably the most impressive Co-op building in Middleton town centre at the time. The Store, of which only the ground floor remains, was perfectly integrated to the urban landscape in the Victorian times. Like in the other towns and villages of Rochdale Borough where the Co-op societies where successful, the Middleton and Tonge Co-operative Society contributed to the urban development with the construction of purpose-built stores and shops.
The downloadable information leaflet tells the story of the Co-op society and is illustrated with fantastic historic photographs revealing the beauty of the co-op buildings, most of which are now gone.
Using the map and guide to explore the sites described will create a walk of approximately 1 mile / 1.6 km in length. Note that, as the leaflet explains, many of the buildings described no longer exist!
Accessibility and facilities
As this is a walk along town-centre streets, we believe that the route will be accessible to wheelchair-users and families with pushchairs. Note, however, we have not been able to verify conditions on the ground.
According to Rochdale Council, public toilets are available in Middleton Shopping Centre and Middleton bus station. There are also several cafes and pubs in the town centre.
How to get there
We have listed the walk start point as Barclays Bank in the centre of Middleton, which the leaflet states used to be the Co-op Drapery, Tailoring & Furnishing Department.
To work out how to get to and from the walk start point, simply click the Google Maps link(s) on this page. Then click ‘Directions’ and enter your postcode or location in the relevant field. For public transport options, click on the train icon.