Rowntree A-Z

Haxby Road Factory

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 31 acres had been purchased in order to expand the fruit growing capacity of the Haxby Road site. In addition, the factory was connected to the NER branch line via a private railway link.

The Melangeur Block (1906), The Almond Block (1907) and extension (1911)

These buildings were designed by Rowntree’s factory architects, W.H. Brown and W.J. Swain and built by the Rowntree’s building department using a innovative form of reinforced concrete to create the structure.

Dining Block (1913)

The dining block was constructed on the opposite side of Haxby Road and accessed from the factory via a subway. Again, this was designed by W.J. Swain and constructed using an innovative concrete compound (Pevsner 1972, 246). The design is understood to have incorporated some of the longest concrete beams in the county. The Dining Block included a gymnasium, school room (former continuation school) and lecture hall.

From the York Press, 4 June 1913:

“Today was an important one for Messrs Rowntree and Co Ltd. New school buildings and dining rooms of fine dimensions were opened at the works of the firm in Haxby Road, and the function was attended by many distinguished people.

The new block, devoted to social and educational purposes, was reached from the factory exits by covered corridors which terminated in a subway leading under Haxby Road to the entrance hall. The construction, in the form of a letter “H”, was of reinforced concrete. The ground floor was to be mainly devoted to scholastic work.

On the north side were the woodwork, science, and other rooms planned as the boys’ classes, the lecture and concert room, and two girls’ dressmaking classrooms. The central portion comprised two cookery classrooms, and club rooms for men and boys. The south side would be devoted to the gymnasia and baths.

Adjoining the boys’ gymnasium, were six sets of shower and foot baths, and a dressingroom. The girls’ gymnasium had a large dressing room with twenty porcelain slipper baths. The whole of the first floor was to be devoted to a dining room for girls. The men’s dining room was on the north side of the second floor.”


Oral History Memories…Many of our interviewees as part of the oral history project “York Remembers Rowntree” spoke about having their meals in the Dining Block. Three common themes emerged:

  1. Workers ate quickly so that the could catch the lunchtime movie.
  2. The food was good value.
  3. The dining rooms were hierarchically segregated, so workers sat separately from managers.

The Dining Block was renovated and modified during 1965 to provide a “streamlined service area, modern kitchen, still-rooms and stores… with up-to-date equipment”. We are lucky to have some of these photographs of the work here.

Cream Block (1936) and extension (1938)

The Cream Block was constructed using a steel-frame and brick cladding. The roof line has a ornate band of white sculpted render.

1955 Alterations

Rowntree & Co. Ltd. went through a series of alterations and expansions throughout the twentieth-century.

Today (2018) parts of the original factory building are being redeveloped for a major housing scheme that retains the historical exterior.

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