“York Remembers Rowntree” Oral History Project

cabinet of Cocoa


From fast-paced production lines to summer days spent in Rowntree Park and the smell of chocolate lingering over the city…

Everyone in York has a connection to Rowntree.

“York Remembers Rowntree” was an 18-month oral history project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, running from September 2013 to March 2015. The project used oral history, documents, social media and photography to capture the stories of York residents who have benefited from the legacy left by the Rowntree family. Through this project we aimed to record and collect the memories of York residents for whom the Rowntree name holds a special significance in their lives.

This project aimed to fill a gap in current knowledge about the contribution the Rowntree family had in the everyday lives of people within the city. We took an  in-depth look at four areas: the purpose built housing and community of New Earswick, factory life, entertainment & leisure time and transportation. Through this project we aimed to:

  •    Record the memories of people, which may otherwise be lost from history forever
  •    Build up an oral history archive to complement existing historical collections
  •    Provide a research resource for the community, students and researchers.


Our Volunteers’ Blog entries during the Project

News: Audio-post at Rowntree Park

Bridget : October 13, 2014 12:16 pm : Community life, Memories Project, Uncategorized
To celebrate the first birthday of the project, we launched our interactive audio-listening post in Rowntree Park, featuring eight highlighted memories recorded by local residents over the past year.  This post is still available for all to enjoy. Come and select a memory, turn the dial, crank the handle and listen to a unique piece more »

Appeal for Information- the location of a WWI memorial

Bridget : August 13, 2014 9:44 am : Business History, Community life, Memories Project
At The Rowntree Society we frequently get phone calls asking if we can help identify something or provide further information about a specific aspect of the Rowntree’s story. We always like to help where we can, but we are drawing a bit of a blank with this. So we hope that you can more »

First World War, Rowntrees and workers

Bridget : August 11, 2014 9:36 am : Business History, Community life, Memories Project
Joseph Rowntree’s reaction to the outbreak of war was a fear of jingoism and a concern for the reconstruction of society to improve present conditions in order to improve the welfare of the population into the future. All of Seebohm Rowntree’s efforts in WW1 were bound up with welfare and reconstruction. At the behest of Lloyd more »

Rowntree’s Park, Birthday Party Event 20th July 2014

Bridget : July 9, 2014 9:16 am : Memories Project, Uncategorized
Come and see us at the Rowntree’s Park Birthday Party, Sunday 20th July 2014 1-4pm. We will bring a selection of Rowntree’s memories donated as part of our oral history project, “York  Remembers Rowntree”. You will also be able to have a go at three of the tests used by the Rowntree’s factory more »

Rowntree’s Private Railway

Bridget : May 27, 2014 1:49 pm : Business History, Confectionery history, Memories Project
The railway access to the Rowntree’s factory at Haxby Road came from the Foss Island Branch of the NER. In 1895 Rowntree’s had bought one locomotive and had one-and-a-half miles of standard gauge track. The locomotive was bought second-hand on the 20th December 1890 from Hudswell Clarke and was called ‘Marshall”. This was more »

Prototype Chocolates?

Bridget : May 19, 2014 2:42 pm : Memories Project
One of the most amazing parts of being involved in an Oral History Project is the generosity of people in sharing their Rowntree’s stories and objects. Last week I was lucky enough to visit a lady who had a rather special collection of plaster chocolates! During her childhood, her father worked for Rowntree’s more »

More than a hundred years of Rowntree history…

Bridget : May 14, 2014 1:12 pm : Memories Project
By Jaanika Reinvald. Last Tuesday the “York Remembers Rowntree” oral history project volunteers had a unique opportunity to visit a museum of Rowntree memorabilia that displays objects from Victorian times to today. It’s a truly  impressive collection of more than 100,000 objects, including a large variety of chocolate tins and boxes, many still more »

Cocoa Works Brass Band

Bridget : May 14, 2014 10:31 am : Business History, Community life, Memories Project, Social history, York’s history
Formed in 1903, the Rowntree’s Brass Band was an important part of factory identity. The 16th edition of the Cocoa Works Magazine (June 1903) has an entry marking the formation of the band. It has been suggested that the formation of a Brass Band in connection with the Works would be welcomed by more »

Rowntree’s Jelly classics – Tomato Ratatouille

Bridget : April 20, 2014 2:50 pm : Community life, Memories Project
By Jaanika Reinvald. In honour of the Diamond Jubilee in 1983 the Rowntree factory published a booklet with a selection of its best jelly recipes. A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to browse through the recipes and one in particular caught my attention. Having grown up in Estonia where meat jelly is one more »

The Haxby Road Factory

Bridget : April 14, 2014 9:20 am : Business History, Memories Project, York’s history
In 1890 Joseph Rowntree bought 29 acres of land off Haxby Road and began to build a new modern industrial complex. This complex was to house the manufacture of gum products and was sited with a main entrance onto Wigginton Road and a smaller pedestrian footpath access from Haxby Road.In 1899 an additional more »
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