Co-operation, voters and reform: a partnership for two capital museum and archive projects

Submitting Institution

University of Central Lancashire

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Other Studies In Human Society
History and Archaeology: Curatorial and Related Studies, Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Historical research by UCLan staff has underpinned significant re-developments at the People's History Museum (PHM) and Co-operative College (CC), which have enhanced their out-reach across the region and beyond.

  • The academic strength of proposals from the PHM and CC, derived from their connection with UCLan, was a key factor in their securing c.£15m worth of support for capital redevelopments.
  • Historical research has been interpreted into new galleries on the history of democracy and the co-operative movement.
  • Historical research has been translated into public lectures and conferences, and into workshops for co-operators, curators, archivists and librarians.

Underpinning research

Historians at UCLan have long been committed to the history of the labour movement broadly conceived. The People's History Museum in Manchester is the most significant museum of labour history in the UK and houses the archives of the Labour Party and related organisations. The Co- operative College runs the National Co-operative Archive, also in Manchester, and the Rochdale Pioneers Museum (RPM). Both these collections are designated as nationally important and contain internationally important archives and visual collections. From individual historians utilising their resources, over more than ten years, close relationships have been forged between the three parties in the areas of scholarly activities, public engagement and governance. Professor John Walton (at UCLan 1998-2007) served as a Trustee of the Co-operative Heritage Trust and was instrumental in establishing closer links between UCLan and PHM. Dr David Stewart was appointed to a post-doctoral fellowship in 2006 working jointly with the PHM and UCLan and is now SL in History at UCLan. Dr Nick Mansfield was director of the PHM from 1989 - 2010 when he joined UCLan as a Senior Research Fellow and acts as curatorial adviser to the Co-operative College and the Rochdale Pioneers Museum.

Currently, a number of UCLan historians are engaged in research in the area of labour and co- operative history. A central research theme has focussed on aspects of the political history of the labour movement. David Stewart (SL History) has worked on the relationships between the Labour and Co-operative parties. Stephen Meredith (SL Politics) has researched extensively into the history of the Labour right and its role in the development of the New Labour project. Stewart has studied aspects of Labour's imperial policies in the post-war period. This body of work has contributed new insights into the development of core ideologies and policies of the Labour Party.

Another strand of research has looked at the material culture of labour history. Work by Stewart and Nick Mansfield (Senior Research Fellow) have examined visual sources as means of political communication, including political posters and Trade Union banners. Mansfield has completed a project on the buildings of working-class organisations. This has enhanced our understanding of the mobilisation of visual resources in political campaigning and the formation of party identities and support; and the architectural heritage of working-class history.

Several other members of the team are interested in various aspects of the social and cultural history of labour and working class organisations more generally. These include Dr Annemarie McAllister (Research Fellow) who is working on the Temperance Movement, especially the Band of Hope, as a radical social and moral reform campaign.

The strength of this area of research, and the importance of the academic relationships, has been recognised by the award of several Collaborative Doctoral Awards from the AHRC, co-supervised by PHM, CC and UCLan staff. Altogether, a dozen post-graduate students are working on related topics, cementing the relationships and enhancing the vibrancy of the research culture.

References to the research

1. David Stewart,` "A complex question about the remnants of empire": The Labour Party and the Falklands War', in Billy Frank, Craig Horner and David Stewart (eds), The British Labour Movement and Imperialism, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, 2010), pp.173-190.


2. Stephen Meredith, Labours Old and New: The Parliamentary Right of the British Labour Party 1970-79 and the Roots of New Labour, (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2008).


3. Stephen Meredith, `A catalyst for secession? European divisions on the parliamentary right of the Labour Party, 1969-72, and the schism of British social democracy' Historical Research 86 (2012): 329-351.


4. David Stewart, ` "A Party within a Party''? The Co-operative Party — Labour Party alliance and the formation of the Social Democratic Party, 1974-81' in Alyson Brown, Linda Shaw, David Stewart, John Walton and Anthony Webster (eds), The Hidden Alternative: Co-operative Values, Past, Present and Future (United Nations University Press and Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2011.

5. Nick Mansfield, Buildings of the British labour movement buildings (English Heritage, London, 2013)

6. A. McAllister, `Picturing the Demon Drink: How Children were Shown Temperance Principles in the Band of Hope' Visual Resources, December 2012 (Vol. 28, No. 4) pp.309-323.


All these publications are listed in REF2 and have appeared either in peer-reviewed journals or books subject to a rigorous editorial process.

Details of the impact

A major point of impact for UCLan historical research has been in underpinning the scholarly credentials of both the People's History Museum and the Co-operative College in very significant re-developments at both organisations in recent years. The PHM's £13m project (completed in 2010) attracted £7.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £2m from the North West Development Agency, £2m from Manchester City Council, £400,000 from European Development Fund, £350,000 from Allied London plc and £180,000 from the Wolfson Foundation. These developments resulted in new galleries of 1,600 square metres, consisting of 38 themes on working class social and political history since 1800. The PHM was awarded a further £200,000 by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 2010 to undertake research and development work on the proposed Museum Centre for British History. Mansfield, Stewart and Meredith contributed academic support for this project resulting in a feasibility report for government ministers. The Co-operative College's £2.3m project (completed in 2012) divided into £1.6m on the Rochdale Pioneers Museum and £700,000 on outreach projects at the Museum and the National Co-operative Archives, attracted £1.5m from the HLF and grants from the John Paul Getty and Esmée Fairburn Foundations and other funders. A key factor in helping these institutions to secure large scale funding in competitive environments was the strength of the academic relationships they had forged with UCLan historians. It was recognised that a close connection with academic historians would enhance the quality and depth of the displays and outreach work that these developments would supply. Thus, although the direct beneficiaries were the organisations themselves, it was as a means for making for more significant reach.

The research, advice and expertise of UCLan staff contributed generally and directly to several specific exhibitions and displays. The broad themes of the underpinning research by Stewart, Meredith and Mansfield contributed to core thinking in the re-design of PHM, and to the arrangement of specific galleries, for example that on post-war developments, 1945-79. Stewart and Mansfield, together with Walton, provided academic underpinning for the PHM exhibition Battle for the Ballot - the struggle for the vote in Britain, which opened in April 2008. They also contributed to the PHM's guidebook, Battle for the Ballot, (2008.) Stewart's research on the importance of posters within the Labour Party and the political values of the Co-operative movement, together with Mansfield's on banners (and that of his post-graduate student Chris Burgess) contributed to the 2011 - 12 PHM exhibition Picturing Politics. McAllister's research on the temperance movement, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, contributed directly to the creation of the PHM's exhibition, and extensive programme of related events, Demon Drink, running from June 2012 to February 2013. This project encompassed a wide range of activities, including material and virtual exhibitions, making archives more accessible, developing materials for schools and even attracted the interest of organisations working with alcohol abusers, looking into historical and cultural vehicles to rehabilitation.

These activities are designed to benefit visitors to the museums, to extend and deepen their understanding and appreciation of the labour and co-operative movements. PHM attracts c.85,000 visitors pa (13% are from C2DE socioeconomic groups and 8% from the BME communities) with a total yearly economic impact of £8.5m. The recently re-opened Rochdale Pioneers Museum is expected to attract 10,000 users a year. Visitor comments and evidence from social media websites indicate that the revised galleries are interesting and thought-provoking.

UCLan historians have utilised the findings of their research to inform over one hundred gallery talks and public lectures and events at UCLan, the PHM and CC, and featured on national media outlets, reaching audiences numbered in millions, including Meredith in BOOKtalk on BBC Parliament, Stewart on Beyond Westminster on BBC Radio 4, and Mansfield on Wartime Farm on BBC2. Meredith and Stewart co-organised a `Witness panel' at the PHM to mark the centenary of James Callaghan, which brought together their research expertise with contemporaries, journalists and family in a combined academic and non-academic exploration. Conferences and workshops have also been aimed at professionals (curators, archivists and librarians) and co-operative practitioners. Examples include Co-operatives — moving from the Rochdale Pioneers to the 21st Century, 2009 (papers published by UNUP in 2011) and Mainstreaming Co-operation, 2012 (supported by the United Nations as part of the UN Year of Co-operatives).

Sources to corroborate the impact

For the importance of UCLan's academic research underpinning in the re-development of PHM and RPM see attached statements from:

CONTACT 1: Stephen Broomhead, Director, North West Development Agency.

CONTACT 2: Andy Burnham MP (former Culture Secretary), House of Commons.

CONTACT 3: Katy Archer, Director, People's History Museum.

Evidence of visitor numbers and economic impact are contained in the report from the PHM []. The project report on the Museum Centre for British History shows the role of UCLan research in informing the proposals.

Evidence of the extensive activities carried out in connection with research on temperance is given in:

Evidence of audience numbers for media work by UCLan historians is in

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