The Modern Face of Co-operatives in Wales

Modern face of co-operatives

Wales Co-op Centre

This exhibition features work from contemporary Welsh photographers created from 2015-2021. Presented by the Wales Co-operative Centre to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Owen, it brings together the work of artists whose images feature co-operative businesses building a stronger, fairer, more co-operative Wales.

14th May, 2021 marks the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Owen in Newtown, Powys. A Welsh textile manufacturer, philanthropist and social reformer, Owen was one founder of socialism and the co-operative movement. Throughout his life, he championed workers’ rights, led the development of co-operatives and the trade union movement, and supported the passage of child labour laws, free education and early-years child-care.

Owen’s legacy is alive today, carried on by the 474 independent co-op businesses which currently exist in Wales and the countless community groups which operate in accordance with values such as self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity.

At a time when there is considerable interest in ‘building back better’ and taking a more co-operative approach to community regeneration and economic development, the photographs reflect a vibrant and dynamic movement which is already present in Wales. The works presented here challenge the perception that co-operation and co-operatives are a historical idea which died out in the mid-twentieth century. In a post-Covid environment, it is imperative that we understand the modern relevance of the co-operative movement, and these works provide an opportunity for that conversation.

The launch date for this photographic exhibition (online) will be Tuesday, 11th May.

Please check back closer to that time, to see further updates and more press releases regarding this initiative in Wales to promote modern co-operatives.

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BBC Programme

Wales and the History of The World

A BBC programme called “Wales and the History of the World” aired again on BBC 1 Wales on Sunday 13th December, where the presenter, Eddie Butler, visited the museum and introduced Robert Owen as “the man who helped enlighten the “dark satanic mills around the world”. It was originally aired in March 2010.

Eddie Butler looked at the symbols and ideas we’ve chosen to represent us for the past 6,000 years, give or take a decade – everything from the red dragon to the red flag and from ancient burial mounds (via the bible) to the iPod. And it’s not just one way traffic into Wales. Eddie comes face to face with the man who helped enlighten the “dark satanic mills” around the world. He learns about a community in India that still sings Welsh hymns – Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is their anthem, and they prefer lamb with mint sauce to a curry.

You can see the TV programme again on BBC’s IPlayer app online or using your TV and go to IPlayer and search for “Wales and the history of the world” or “History of Wales” and look for Episode 1: Ideas and it is 12 mins 28 secs into the half an hour programme when he visits the museum.

BBC programme
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000qgnk/wales-and-the-history-of-the-world-series-1-4-ideas

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

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Robert Owen in Newtown

Robert Owen is to be discovered all around Newtown. You can visit his tomb in St. Mary’s churchyard or his statue in his garden. He features in the Town Council crest and logo. His birthplace can be visited outside in Broad Street. There are numerous plaques around Newtown.

Here are some photographs taken by Andy Newham of his tomb and his statue.

Robert Owen’s tomb

Robert Owen’s statue

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Past birthday celebrations

Every year, people throughout the world, have come together to remember the life and importance of Robert Owen on his birthday in May.  Here are the past 5 year’s birthday celebrations in Newtown.   Photos taken by Andy Newham.

Date of his birth
Robert Owen’s birthdate – 14th May 1771

 

248th in 2019 

247th in 2018 

246th in 2017 

245th in 2016 

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Ways we remember him

March along the streets of Newtown

The people of Newtown have gathered and celebrated the birthday of Robert Owen on 14th May in many ways over the years. Cakes have been baked and eaten. Children have marched down the streets of Newtown and danced around his statue. Speeches have been made. Music has been played. Old and young people have met in social gatherings in Newtown to eat cake and drink tea. You can see some photographs below of the celebrations in Newtown in 2016 and 2017.

In 2020, the museum had to close, and celebrations were affected by the coronavirus pandemic – but a small number of people lay flowers at his statue even amid that world event to show their respect for him.
In 2021, people in Newtown will celebrate his 250th birthday, and other parts of the world, people will also join in these celebrations, as allowed. A calendar has been produced and is being sold online to raise funds for the charity that normally open the museum.

Lay flowers at the statue of Robert Owen in 2020
Lay flowers at his statue in 2020

Calendar 2021 Front Cover
Sell a calendar online

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250th birthday

Date of his birth

Robert Owen was born on 14th May in 1771, at No.2 Broad Street, Newtown, in Powys Mid Wales.

Co-op logoRegarded as Father of the Cooperative Movement and Trade Unions, he was one of the greatest social reformers of his time and of international significance. His work is of great importance and he was a philanthropist of the poor and vulnerable.

2021 will be a big year with celebrations planned to mark his 250th birthday. A calendar has been produced and you can buy a copy online by clicking here.

Calendar 2021 Front Cover
Calendar 2021 Front Cover

 

Calendar 2021 Back Cover
Calendar 2021 Back Cover

Read more about his early life and birth in Newtown here

 

 

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249th birthday

Flowers at his statue on Thursday 14th May 2020
Flowers at his statue on Thursday 14th May 2020

Robert Owen was born on this day, 14th May in 1771, at No.2 Broad Street, Newtown, in Powys Mid Wales.

Regarded as Father of the Cooperative Movement and Trade Unions, he was one of the greatest social reformers of his time and of international significance. His work is of great importance and he was a philanthropist of the poor and vulnerable.

His 249th birthday came during the Coronavirus / Covid-19 pandemic. A large gathering was not possible, but a small number of local people laid flowers at his statue in Newtown, out of respect for him on his birthday.

Read more about his early life and birth in Newtown here

Watch a video describing his legacy here

 

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