In 1977 the Co-op moved out and in 1981 the building was taken over by the museum. Many of our visitors remember the building in its former life. It contained a central courtyard, now the Turbinia gallery, warehouses, offices, an elaborate dining hall and even had its own bank.
The manager’s offices were very stylish compared to the warehouses and their toilets were some of the fanciest in town!
The offices were given an elegant new look in the 1930’s. You can still see the 1930’s features and the elaborate stained glass window in the entrance to the archives.
The Great Hall is a beautiful Victorian space which was restored in 1999. It has hosted its fair share of celebrations over the years, used as dining hall for Co-op employees, it also hosted Christmas parties and retirement dinners.
This Christmas programme from 1924 shows the menu that was served, the orchestra members, the songs people sang and a list of guest singers.
It is not only the inside of the building which has changed. The green domes that sit on top of the turrets are actually made of copper. The metal has reacted with the air over the years giving them the pretty green sheen which we now see today.
In 2013 the museum will be commemorating the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Co-operative Society, look out for more information.