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The Co-operative Bank is proud to return statue of Robert Owen outside its Manchester head office

12 December 2018

  • The statue commemorates Robert Owen, known as; ‘The Father of Co-operation’
  • The statue is a replica of an original homed in his birth place; Newton, South Wales
  • The Co-operative bank remains committed to the values of the co-operative movement and to
    being an ethical business that supports local communities

The Co-operative Bank is proud to return the statue of Robert Owen outside our Head Office building in Balloon
Street, Manchester. The statue, a much-loved local landmark, had been stored for safekeeping during the
extensive trams works in the area and during the refurbishment of the office premises.

Yesterday, an event to mark the return of the Robert Owen statue took place at the Co-operative Bank’s Balloon
Street Head Office with Chief Executive Andrew Bester, Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK and
Gillian Lonergan from the National Co-operative Archive at Co-operative Heritage Trust. The event was also
attended by a number of Co-operative Bank colleagues who have been in service at the bank since the statue
was originally installed outside Balloon Street in 1994.

Andrew Bester, CEO at The Co-operative Bank said: “Robert Owen is symbolic of our North West co-
operative heritage and our ongoing commitment to co-operative values and ethics. We’re pleased to see his
statue taking pride of place once again in central Manchester. We wanted to make sure that passers-by can read
more about Robert Owen and why he was such an important figure in the formation of the co-operative
movement, so we’ve included information about him in a window display as a backdrop to his statue.”

Ed Mayo, Secretary General at Co-operatives UK, said: “Robert Owen is seen by many as the Father of Co-
operation and I am delighted to welcome his return outside the Co-operative Bank head office here in
Manchester - a place which shaped a great deal of his thinking in the early 19th century.  Some of his
innovations included reducing the working hours of his cotton mill workers from 17 hours a day to 10, banning
the employment of children, providing free schooling and even setting up the world’s first workplace
crèche. Every worker contributed to a friendly society which operated as a sick fund, to cover time off, and Owen
started a savings bank - so it is fitting that The Co-operative Bank now hosts this wonderful statue.

“In Owen's own words, “in this new world, all will know that far more happiness can be obtained by union, than by
disunion.” and I think this is as relevant today as it ever was!”

Background
The statue commemorating Robert Owen, known as the ‘Father of Co-operation’ for his work in establishing and
supporting co-operative communities, has been returned to its original position outside The Co-operative Bank’s
Balloon Street head office along with a new explanatory information display in the window behind. The statue
was originally installed outside the Bank in 1994 by then Managing Director, and fellow Welshman, the late Terry
Thomas (who then became Lord Thomas of Macclesfield). The statue is based on another situated in Owen’s
birthplace in Newtown, South Wales. The statue was taken into safe storage as work to extend the Metrolink in
Manchester’s city centre took place and the building in Balloon Street underwent a complete refurbishment.
Following the end of Bee in the City art trail featuring the ‘Doing the Waggle Dance’ bee sculpture sponsored by
the Bank, arrangements were made to return the statue and for maintenance and repair work to be carried out
on the supporting brickwork.

Who is Robert Owen and why is he important to The Co-operative Bank?
Robert Owen is symbolic of our North West co-operative heritage and our ongoing commitment to the co-
operative sector. Owen spent thirteen years working in the emerging Manchester textile industry as a young
man. The conditions in the factories shaped much of his thinking with regard to factory legislation including rules
around child labour, socialism, co-operation, trade unionism, credit unions and education. (The statue shows
Owen protecting a child). Building on his successful experience in Manchester, Owen and his partners
purchased large cotton mills in New Lanark, Scotland where he created a model factory village, which was
renowned throughout Europe.

The Co-operative Bank was founded in 1872 as the Loan and Deposit Department of the Co-operative
Wholesale Society providing banking services to the growing number of co-operative societies across the
country.

-- ENDS --

Notes to Editors
Images from the event are available.
Media enquiries:
Nicki Parry; PR Manager Co-operative Bank
Email: nicki.parry@co-operativebank.co.uk Tel: 0161 201 1590
About The Co-operative Bank
The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to around four million retail and SME
(Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers and is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-
operative movement.

The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led ethical policy that gives customers a say in how their
money is used. Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on five occasions, with new commitments added in January
2015 to cover how the Bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with
suppliers and other stakeholders and campaigning.

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