28 Pavement Heritage Project (2012)
In 2012 we researched the history of 28 Pavement, the address in York where the Rowntree company began its life in 1828 as grocery business, and where Joseph Rowntree was born in 1836.
The project was funded by grants from the Two Ridings Community Foundation, the Feoffees of St. Michael’s Spurriergate, and the William A. Cadbury Charitable Trust. Its aim was to build knowledge about the significance of the site from a heritage perspective, uncover and share the stories of the people who lived and worked there, and document the interiors of the building for posterity before their conversion into private residences. We created a travelling exhibition on the history of the site and oversaw the installation of a blue plaque to highlight the significance of the building.
Blood and Chocolate (2013)
We supported the historical research and accompanying outreach programme for Blood and Chocolate, a co-produced performance by Pilot Theatre, York Theatre Royal and Slung Low, written by Mike Kenny. This collaboration brought the modern city of York to life with the stories of the workers and owners at Rowntree and Terry’s chocolate companies in York, and the experiences of the young men who fought in the conflict. A cast of over 200 people contributed to the performance which unfolded in the streets of York.
York Remembers Rowntree (2013-2015)
In 2013 we received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for an oral history project called York Remembers Rowntree. The 18-month project sought to fill a gap in existing knowledge about social history in York, and the contributions of the Rowntree family to the everyday lives of the citizens in the city over many decades. The project focused on four themes: working in the company’s confectionary factory in York, workers’ entertainment and leisure pursuits, transport, and life in the garden village of New Earswick. The Project Officer worked with 30 volunteers trained by York Oral History Society (YOHS) to interview former Rowntree workers living in York and transcribe these. The recordings were used to produce an exhibition, interactive virtual map, a talk for school pupils, and an audio post in Rowntree Park. Across its lifespan, over 1000 people participated in the project.
Five Rowntree Walks (2016)
These unique history walks were designed to enable residents and visitors to York to explore key landmarks and places in the city related to Rowntree. Each walk focused on a specific area of the city and situated local histories of the family and company in their wider social contexts. The walks can be downloaded as PDFs for free from our website and are also available in printed booklet.
Lawrence Rowntree Exhibition (2017)
In 2017, we created an exhibition on the life of Lawrence Rowntree for display in the Community Room at York Castle Museum, as part of the museum’s larger commemorative World War One exhibition. Lawrence Rowntree, grandson of Joseph Rowntree, was born in York and also lived in Scarborough as a young boy. He was training as a medical student when war broke out in 1915 and chose to join the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU), which was founded by alumni from his school in York to allow young Quakers to contribute to the war effort without being directly involved in armed conflict. In 1916, he was conscripted under the terms of the Military Service Act. He died at the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium on July 31st, 1917.
The Society worked with curators at the museum and young actors to tell Lawrence’s story through narratives which drew on his personal writings. The project also created a new theatrical performance and a short film based on Lawrence’s life.