Crafter unveils knitted tribute to iconic building

Scottish friends create famous faces in wool

One of the most famous buildings in Rochdale has been recreated - in wool.

A replica of the 31 Toad Lane premises - the birthplace of the Co-operative movement in 1844 - has been painstakingly knitted together by Gillian Lonergan, head of heritage resources at the Co-operative Heritage Trust, which manages the property as a museum, Rochdale Online reports.

She has been at work since August, using colourful yarn to recreate the Victorian brickwork pattern and the iconic Co-operative Tea advert on the walls of the store.

Mrs Longergan said: "How you could recreate the tea advert in knitting is something which has always intrigued me. I have knitted lots of images and patterns before and the tea advertisement is a lovely image. The way it is designed has all the colours quite separate, which helps in knitting."

To help with the task, she took photographs of the walls and used graph paper to transfer them to a knitting pattern, describing the whole task as one that "kept my husband entertained for a few months". Finding ways to photograph the building even required taking overhead photographs of the roof from an adjacent car park.

For Gillian Longergan, however, this was the kind of challenge she has always been up for, coming from a family of keen knitters and having taken it up at the age of ten. Indeed, she got the idea for the replica store after knitting a model of something every sci-fi fan will recognise - Doctor Who's TARDIS.

Although plans for the use of the knitted replica of the Rochdale building have not been finalised, it is hoped it can become a permanent exhibit at the museum.

Originally a warehouse, the premises at 31 Toad Lane were hired on a three-year rent by the Rochdale Pioneers, who made the site their first Co-operative store.

They moved from the site to their central Rochdale headquarters in 1867, with Toad Lane become a storage building and then a tobacco factory before being bought back by the Co-operative movement in the 1920s in recognition of its historical significance. It has been a museum since 1931.

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