History of 28 Pavement
In 2012 we researched the history of 28 Pavement, where the whole Rowntree story in York began, and we created a Travelling exhibition Timeline history of 28 Pavement. Our work has resulted in a better understanding of the history of this key building in York. It has enabled us to dispel a number of myths long associated with it – for example, the idea that Lewis Fry, an apprentice, belonged to the Fry Chocolate dynasty of Bristol (he didn’t). We were also able to show that the building was completely rebuilt in the 1870s – which is why on the blue plaque on the exterior describes the building as the ‘site of Joseph’s birthplace’ rather than his ‘birthplace’.
As a summary of our work we were delighted to have overseen the installation of a blue plaque on the building, and since then it has been firmly on the tourist map of central York, marking the very beginnings of the Rowntree story in York.
After the blue plaque was put up we gave a lecture on the history of the building to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and wrote a cover piece in the Quaker journal The Friend. Our work brought to light the life of the Apprentices who lived on the upper stories of the building (and are still in evidence today). In the course of our work we were contacted by individuals who had contemporary accounts of working for the Rowntree family in the shop, including unearthing a valuable ledger which lists the duties and daily life of the shop in Rowntree days.
Our project was generously funded by grants from the Two Ridings Community Foundation, the Feoffees of St Michael’s Spurriergate, and the William A. Cadbury Charitable Trust.
See further on the lived history of this historic building, the downloadable unpublished talk given to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society by our then-Executive Director Bridget Morris.