A community group in West Lothian are on their way to creating the first centre dedicated to the story of the Scottish co-operative movement.

Group of employees from the Co-op Discovery Centre

West Calder & Harburn Community Development Trust (WCHCDT) plans 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.

To find out more about this exciting project we caught up with Matt Pearce, Trust and Project Manager.

“The history of the co-operative movement is important to our community of West Calder, as well as to others across the country and yet there is currently no dedicated museum in Scotland which explores and celebrates the role that the movement played in creating the society we know today. The former Co-operative Bakery Building in West Calder provides the perfect space to create such a resource.”

“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 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.”

“Fantastic progress has been made to date and it was really exciting to launch our first community share offer. With a fundraising 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 out with the West Calder area.”

“We’ve been able to tap in to support from both Community Shares Scotland and Co-operative Development Scotland to set up a new Community Benefit Society to run the Centre after launch. People are invited to support the Centre by investing in shares to help the new business become sustainable and deliver benefits to 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.”

To find out more about the centre and how to invest visit their website.

To find out more about support for co-ops visit our pages on the Scottish Enterprise website