What is the Co-op Discovery Centre?

West Calder & Harburn Community Development Trust (WCHCDT) is working to create a hands-on, experiential, fun discovery & learning centre based around co-operative heritage that will create a nationally recognised attraction with café and event space, boosting local footfall and creating jobs.

West Calder Co-operative Society was founded in 1875 by a group of miners who had grown weary of being forced to spend their wages in the local mine-owners shop. It went on to become a central part of cultural and economic life in West Lothian. The new centre will be based in the former Co-operative Bakery Building.

Group of employees from the Co-op Discovery Centre
West Calder Bakery Building


Progress to date

The project has been led by the local community who developed an action plan? to ensure the project meets their needs. A new company; the Scottish Co-operative Discovery Centre, which is a co-op itself has been created to run the centre once it’s open. A community share offer has been launched to support fundraising for the project. With a target of £250,000 the offer will allow people to buy shares in the new project. The minimum investment for local members (those who are resident in the West Calder & Harburn Community Council area) is £10 and the maximum is £25,000 (10% of optimum target).  Shares are £1 each and the target for the local membership share issue is £20,000. A wider share issue with a target of over £200,000 has been launched for organisations and for those outwith the West Calder area.



Co-operative Development Scotland provided feasibility and set up support to the group early in the project. Scottish Co-operative Discovery Centre were also able to tap into further support from other organisations including Community Shares Scotland who are supporting the share offer.


The future

The Co-op Discovery Centre plans to bring the former co-operative bakery building back to its former glory by working with heritage architects.  The Discovery Centre aims to celebrate and share that ethos of co-operation in a fun and play focussed way. “Inspiring Co-operation for a better future” is the project motto.

Once up and running the centre will create jobs, celebrate, identify and provide training opportunities whilst ensuring inclusivity for marginalised groups within the community. It is hoped that investors will be offered interest when the company is trading securely in the future and any profits will be invested back into the centre or be used to deliver community and co-operative projects. By creating a heritage destination, this ambitious project hopes to celebrate the rich and important history of co-ops to West Lothian as well continue to promote co-operation for future generations.


Find out more about the Scottish Co-op Discovery Centre here

Find out more about support for new and existing co-ops here.