The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust has made donations to all the major –and some minor – political parties over the years. It differs from other political donors in that its gifts are largely made in support of constitutional and electoral reform
Rowntree had its share of difficulties over the years, perhaps most strikingly in 1921, when its turnover dropped by 33% in a single year.
The words belong to Mark Zuckerberg (See: https://www.facebook.com/notes/mark-zuckerberg/a-letter-to-our-daughter/10153375081581634/ )
Joseph Rowntree set out his plans and intentions in great detail in his Memorandum of 1904, placing only half of his wealth into his Trusts.
Joseph Rowntree 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.’ If a worker left his job at the Cocoa Works, he was not required to move out of his house in New Earswick.
By comparison, Lord Leverhulme said (of tenants in Port Sunlight, model village built at about the same time as New Earswick) “…a good workman may have a wife of objectionable habits, or he may have objectionable habits himself, which make it undesirable to have him in the (Port Sunlight) village. . . .”
The intrusive rules imposed on Leverhulme’s tenants were widely resented.
During WW2, both dried egg and Ryvita were made there. The gum department was converted into a secret fuse factory, named County Industries. Significant stocks of high explosives were stored on site.
Houses was for rent by ‘artisans and mechanics … and all persons who earn their living, wholly or partially, or earn a small income, by the work of their hands or their minds’. By 1954 only a third of the residents were company employees, the remainder from York itself, thus ensuring the mixed community that had been envisaged by Joseph Rowntree.
In a memorandum to the apprentices who lived ‘above the shop’ in the late 19th century he specified a prohibition on firearms, together with the possession of indecent literature.
There is no evidence that they actively campaigned for women’s voting rights, especially during the lead-up to 1918. Though liberal in outlook, their national concerns were elsewhere in this period, addressing economic questions, National Insurance and other domestic issues. It seems too that they were more concerned with People’s Suffrage Federation, a campaign for the enfranchisement of all adults, rather than specifically of women.
It sounds like Joseph Rowntree, but it was actually said by Rufus Jones, an influential American Quaker, who co-wrote a history of Quakerism with Joseph’s son, John Wilhelm. It could be a summation of the Rowntree philosophy.
Seebohm Rowntree, as one of the fathers of modern statistical analysis, thought it was getting worse. In one of his studies he considers what honesty means in pre-war Yorkshire:
“The manageress of a seaside hotel catering for upper-middle class people told us that in her hotel, where there are 100 beds in about 70 rooms, she has lost over 10,000 coat-hangers in 15 years. At present prices she can no longer afford to provide coat-hangers.”
To counter such dishonesty people were enterprising as with the following example: “One large manufacturing firm whose products are world-famous has thought it worthwhile to design and market a device for holding toilet rolls, described in a pamphlet advertising it as follows: “The holder is pilfer-proof in two senses; toilet rolls cannot be stolen from it, and its removal from the wall is a matter of the utmost difficulty.”