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Memorial Clock Remembering Robert Owen

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ROBERT OWEN · 1771 - 1858
Social Reformer and Father of Co-operation
Robert Owen, born 250 years ago, believed that society could be transformed peacefully, without class struggle. That ordinary working people should be able to enjoy education, good health, decent living conditions and recreation. Obviously this was not popular at the time as life was about making as much money as possible out of the workers.
The Strutt family name looms large in Belper with an empire which grew to eight mills in the town which nestles in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, and was home to the industrial revolution. Less celebrated is the friendship between William Strutt and Robert Owen.
Central England Co-operative and a group of co-operators are working up a way to mark the relationship and erect a clock on the local Co-op store featuring Owen which revolves around his idea for the eight hour working day. His mantra was eight hours work, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest, the clock would be split into 3 segments representing the 24-hour period. It also features the face of Owen made up of concentric circles which rotate in opposite directions, lining up once an hour revealing the portrait.
It is proposed that a commemorative clock be installed on the local branch of the Cooperative supermarket in Belper. Owen was an associate of William Strutt, son of Jedediah Strutt who was also a partner of Richard Arkwright. It is understood that Owen’s ideas and practice influenced Jedediah Strutt in the way that the Strutt family developed their industry in Belper and cared for their employees and their families.
Here’s a visual representation of the clock: Owen Clock concept - YouTube
We are currently working within the Co-operative movement to raise the funds of £12,000 for the construction and installation of the Robert Owen clock which will honour this great man who laid the foundations of socialism, cooperation and cooperative living. In recent times during the pandemic, we have seen the benefits of working together and working co-operatively within communities, raising the living and working standards of people enhances community development and leads to more satisfying and creative lives for all.

So far £8000 has been pledged through Co-op committees and local council. There is however still some way to go. We hope that you will see the benefits of making a contribution towards this permanent visible and beautiful reminder of what can be achieved when we co-operate and share ideas.
Owen tried lots of schemes to improve the lives of his workers, Co-operatives and Trade Unions are still helping people today.
Owen felt that workers should be treated properly. He worked hard to improve the conditions in his own factories, reducing working hours, cleaning up accommodation and providing schools. At the same time he continued to lobby and campaign for legislation to protect workers.
He did have some resistance from the workers to change but gained confidence when in 1806 he continued to pay his workers during a cotton embargo from the USA. Owen introduced new rules and regulations for the benefit of the workforce.
He advocated the idea that human beings possess rights and that these rights apply to everybody, irrespective of gender, religion, race or nationality. We still strive today for the same equality but in Owen’s day campaigning of that sort was a prison sentence.
Owen’s central purpose was to support democracy, self-government and co-operative advance through ‘voluntary association’, with education seen as the primary driver of social change.
If you would like to find out more about Robert Owen, follow the following links


Andy Mayers

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