Central England Co-op stores across Birmingham and the Black Country go back in time to support museum project

Posted by james brindle | Published: 25/08/2021

Shoppers visiting their local Co-op last weekend may be forgiven for thinking they had taken a step back in time as store colleagues donned their best 1940s inspired outfits to raise awareness of and funds for an ongoing project at the Black Country Living Museum (BCLM).

Central England Co-op colleagues across 36 North and South Birmingham stores not only dressed up but there was also lots of 1940s inspired activities, music and raffle prizes as they raised money for BCLM’s Forging Ahead project, the museum’s single biggest ever development.

Alongside a new visitor welcome centre and industrial quarter, the museum is building a 1940s-60s town. The new visitor centre is scheduled to open in the first half of 2022 and the historic town will welcome visitors in the first half of 2023. 

The 1940s-60s town will feature a re-creation of Halesowen and Hasbury Co-op’s Hawne branch set in the late 1940s which has seen BCLM partner with Central England Co-op, which incorporated that Society some years ago and still has a branch in Spies Lane, Halesowen.

At the rear of the re-created building will be a mini-Cooperative store. This dedicated learning space will enable children aged three to five to explore and learn from through role play in an historic setting. The weekend’s fundraising activity supported the development of this learning space for future generations.

Gill Evans, Store Manager at Central England Co-op in Great Barr, said: “We had a fantastic weekend supporting this really exciting project at the BCLM which is a wonderful local attraction we are proud to have on our doorstep.

“Our customers were really intrigued about the project and why we’re all dressed up and it did a great job of raising awareness and funds to make Forging Ahead a reality and we can’t wait to see the re-creation of the old Co-op store when it opens.”

Carolyn Sankey, Director of Development at BCLM, said: “We’re delighted that Central England Co-op have chosen to support Forging Ahead so enthusiastically. The re-created Halesowen and Hasbury Co-op will be a key feature of our 1940s-60s town and will immerse visitors in the story of how the Co-op was an early pioneer of self-service retail, laying the foundations for how we shop today. 

“We’re especially pleased to have the Early Years learning space at the rear of the store which will do so much to inspire the imaginations of young children.”

Further information about the Forging Ahead project can be found at https://bclm.com/forging-ahead/


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its over 7,800 colleagues serve customers across 400 plus trading sites in 16 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

Its purpose is to inspire communities to create a sustainable Society for all.

It actively campaigns for the Government to increase sentencing for violent attacks on retail workers and works with FareShare Midlands and hundreds of food banks, generating enough food donations to create over 2.1 million meals for people in need.

The Society embraces inclusivity and equality and is a signed-up member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter, while it is also fully committed to addressing the impact of climate change and is on track to be Carbon Neutral by 2030. 

It invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities through its Community Dividend Fund scheme which has seen over £175,000 shared out between 116 good causes over the past 12 months.

Central England Co-op was named Leading Co-op of the Year by Co-operatives UK in 2021.

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

Phone - 01543 421390

Email - publicrelations@centralengland.coop