The population of the city was only 112,402 in 1931. Seebohm Rowntree made this observation about the pubs of York in the 1930s, saying there were pub 180,000 visits to pubs every week. We wonder what the numbers might be today?
In 1937, Rowntree reduced the size of both Aero and Chocolate Crisp (later to become KitKat) bars to boost profitability as they emerged from the financial squeeze caused by the Depression of the early 1930s.
For many years, Joseph took the 10 o’clock train from York to Scarborough on a Saturday morning where he had a cup of coffee at his cousin’s cafe. He walked along the coast till late afternoon, returned to the cafe for a cup of tea and then home to York. Often, he invited a younger family member, or someone from the staff at the Cocoa Works, to accompany him and enjoy the bracing Scarborough air.
Joseph Rowntree said in his Memorandum that set out his intention for the charitable Trusts that ‘the greatest danger of our national life arises from the power of selfish and unscrupulous wealth which influences public opinion largely through the press.’
New Earswick tenancies were not restricted to Rowntree employees but were open to any who worked with their hands or their minds. New Earswick Garden Village was created by Joseph Rowntree as an experimental community. He was influenced by Ebenezer Howard’s vision of a village which combined the best of town and country life. Funding for New Earswick was guaranteed by the establishment of the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust but he was concerned that residents should feel able to act independently. He said, ‘I should regret if there were anything in the organisation of these village communities that should interfere with the growth of the right spirit of citizenship, or be such that independent and right-minded men and women might resent.’
Lawrence Rowntree served and was KIA at Passchendaele in 1917. In 1914, 1000 men of 8th Battalion the West Yorkshire Regiment is quartered in the Dining Block of the Cocoa Works and Oscar Rowntree, as Sheriff of York, arranged for tins of chocolate to be sent out to every fighting man from York. Many Rowntree family members supported or joined the Quaker-founded Friends Ambulance Unit.
The idea for what was to become the KitKat was prompted by a suggestion in the Rowntree’s suggestion box. One of the firm’s employees felt that Rowntree ought to be making “a chocolate bar that a man could take to work in his pack-up.”
The result was the four-finger Chocolate Crisp. Made in York since 1935, it was originally sold in London and the South East only, priced at 2d. But it was such a hit it was quickly distributed across the rest of the country and now its production runs into millions.
This rumour is not based on fact and no concrete evidence has been offered to back up the story. Nor is it a likely story, for good reasons.
In the first place, the site on Clementhorpe Ings belonged to the Church Commissioners who sold it to Rowntrees in 1919. There is no mention in the Minute recording the sale of the land of any rival bid from any other purchaser. The land in any case would be highly unsuitable for the construction of a large factory since it regularly flooded in the winter at that time just as it does now. Indeed, when the new Park was presented to York Corporation in July, 1921, Joseph Rowntree referred in his speech to “the great flood” of January that year when “the water flowed over the entire ground … to a depth of five to six feet”. Not a very promising location for any factory, whether Rowntree’s or Terry’s.
A second reason why the site would have been impractical is that by 1919 building had already extended along Bishopthorpe Road past Southlands Church. Streets leading off Bishopthorpe Road towards the Ings were already under development by the beginning of the First World War, and building started again almost immediately at the end. Entrance to a factory site on the river side would have been very restricted and difficult to access.
Clearly a place where the land was not suitable for building on would have been relevant when Joseph Rowntree took the decision to create a memorial park in the developing Clementhorpe area. And by choosing to build their new factory on the edge of the City the Terry family secured a more prominent site overlooking the racecourse. They really got a better deal than if they had built on the flood-prone Clementhorpe Ings.
Yes, according to his letters home to his wife May Rowntree.