Rowntree A-Z

Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Joseph Rowntree Theatre was designed by the architect Barry Parker (who also designed part of New Earswick), and built in 1935.  Peter Rowntree was one of the Trustees of the firm responsible for its construction and is understood to have spent much time and care in making it one of the most up-to-date halls in the country (source: CWM: Christmas 1935).

It was opened on Monday 18th November 1935 by Seebohm Rowntree, then Chairman of the Rowntree & Co Limited, with the aim of: ‘providing a hall which may be a fitting centre for those recreational and educational activities which make for a full and happy life’.

It was then known as The Joseph Rowntree Hall, but renamed as The Joseph Rowntree Theatre in 1946. It was built at a total cost of £12,000, which was provided by the Joseph Rowntree Village Trustees. Simple architectural features, combined with a warm colour scheme and hidden lighting, were designed to give an intimate and welcoming atmosphere to the 450-seat auditorium . The hall was equipped with the most up to date acoustics, lighting and heating system and a magnificent curved cyclorama. The stage was designed to accommodate a sixteen-piece orchestra.

Apart from a period during Second World War, when the building was used for war work, the theatre has been in constant use for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.

Oral History

As part of our Oral History project, “York Remembers Rowntree” we interviewed a number of people with a connection to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre. See Memories Map.

External Links

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Our work is enabled by grant funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. If you would like to make a financial donation to further support our work, it is easy to pay online (with or without Gift Aid) by clicking the link below. You can get in touch with us about other ways of giving via