Philip Rowntree (1908-77)
Philip Rowntree was one of the third generation of Rowntrees to work in the company and the trusts. He was the son of Seebohm Rowntree and followed many of his father’s in interests in poverty and reform through his own life. He was educated at Gresham’s School and at Cambridge where he studied agriculture. He joined Rowntree & Co. at a London subsidiary and later moved to the York works where for twenty years he was employment manager for men. He became Executive Officer of the Social Service Trust in 1958 and took over as secretary from 1964 to 1969. He was also a chairman of the Acton Society Trust, the liberal think tank for sixteen years. He also served as the chairman of the Low Pay Unit run by Frank Field. After leaving Rowntree & Co., he carried on his interest in creating partnerships between management and labour. Like his father, he was always concerned with the problems of people on low incomes and in improving industrial relations.
In the family tradition, he took his place on various committees in York concerned with social issues. He was a chairman of the York Local Advisory Committee of the then Ministry of Social Security and a Chairman of York City Hospital House Committee. His interest in the health service led him to advocate the Trust funding work into the reorganisation of the Health Service. Two small, but useful, grants prompted by Philip were to the York Peptic Ulcer Trust and to provide play facilities for children in hospital. He was appointed OBE for his services to health.
He was also concerned that the Trust should provide funding for such bodies as Amnesty International and the Minority Rights Group. He took a particular interest when the Trust gave a grant to the Mozambique Institute (which was run by nationalists during the Portuguese colonial administration) for welfare work. Philip visited the projects and developed an expert knowledge of their work.
Philip also managed the Morrell family charitable property company, the York Conservation Trust. In that role he was concerned with both conservation issues and the creation of homes from historic buildings, always concerned for the welfare of tenants.
He was married with a son by his first marriage and had three daughters by his second marriage. In the minutes of the Trust board meeting after his death he was remembered for his warm friendliness, his sense of humour and the characteristic persistence which took him to the heart of complicated questions.