Papers of Lord Rusholme, Robert Alexander Palmer

Scope and Content

The collection consists of a selection of the papers of Lord Rusholme. The records include photographs taken at official occasions, a small amount of correspondence, some reports and speeches from his involvement with the co-operative movement, and material relating to a number of royal events to which he was invited. The collection also includes some of his father's correspondence, mainly with Robert Blatchford between 1923 and 1941.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Alexander Palmer was born in Manchester on 29 November 1890. He was the son of William Palmer, an artist also known as Whiffley Puncto. He joined the Co-operative Union in 1909. He became a director of the Manchester and Salford Co-operative Society at the age of 21. During the First World War, he served with the Manchester Regiment in Egypt, Belgium and France. By 1920, he was the Co-operative Union's cashier and financial advisor. In 1929, he became the Union's General Secretary, a post that he held until 1947. In 1930, he became a member of the executive committee of the International Co-operative Alliance and was appointed Vice-President of that organisation in 1934. He was the Acting President of the ICA during the Second World War and was the President from 1946 to 1948. In 1944, he was appointed as chairman of the Centenary Congress of the British co-operative movement, although this was cancelled due to the war and he instead presided over the 1945 Congress. In 1945, he was raised to the peerage as 1st Baron Rusholme, of Rusholme in the City of Manchester, becoming the first Co-operative peer. He was a member of the British Transport Commission from 1947 to 1959, became chairman of the London Midland Area Board of British Railways in 1955, and retired in 1960. He died on 18 August 1977.

  • Sources:
  • - The London Gazette, Issue 37375, p. 5901, 4 December 1945, at
  • -'A Man who Guided the Movement', Co-operative News, 24 August 1977, p. 1.
  • -'Leadership of a Co-operator', Co-operative News, 24 August 1977, p. 4.
  • -'A Proud Legacy', Co-operative News, 29 April-13 May 2008, p. 16.

Access Information

All open materials can be viewed by prior arrangement, Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm. Contact the Archivist at: National Co-operative Archive, Co-operative College, Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester, M60 0AS; Email: Website:

Acquisition Information

Transferred to the National Co-operative Archive from the Co-operative Union Library in 2000.

Other Finding Aids

There is a brief box list that covers some of the material. The physical structure described by this list has been maintained.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Sian Astill, work placement student, January 2014.

Custodial History

PAL/1/3, PAL/1/5, PAL/1/9, PAL/1/10 and PAL/1/12 were deposited with the Co-operative Union Library by Lord Rusholme on 9 Sep 1975. The date of deposit for the remainder of the collection is unknown.


None expected.