York Remembers Rowntree – Oral History Project

York Remembers Rowntree – Oral History Project

From fast-paced production lines to summer days spent in Rowntree Park and the smell of chocolate lingering over the city… Everyone in York has a connection to Rowntree

“York Remembers Rowntree” was a memories-gathering project supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, running from September 2013 to March 2015. We used oral history, documents, social media and photography to capture the stories of York residents who have benefited from the legacy left by the Rowntree family. We aimed also to fill a gap in current knowledge about the contribution the Rowntree family had in the everyday lives of people within the city and to look for gaps to determine future directions. This project built on a memories bank of postcard memories that we previously collected between 2009 and 2012.  In the course of the project we recorded and transcribed 40 in-depth interviews around four themes: New Earswick, factory life, entertainment & leisure time and transportation.

YRR Project Summary

Portrait photo gallery from our Memories Exhibitions 

Listen to the audio files on the Memory Map. There are around in depth 40 recordings, mapped onto the places around York where the recorded event took place. The red markers on the Memory Map enable you to click on individual memories, while the yellow markers give some background about places of interest. The Rowntree Society has transcripts of all these recordings, alongside an ever-expanding Memories bank.

See Galleries/York Remembers Rowntree for photographs taken at community events in the course of the project.

Bridget Morris reflects on some of the conclusions of the project after its completion in this talk Capturing Rowntree.

Rowntree Park’s Birthday Party 20th July 2014

We enjoyed the Rowntree Park Birthday Party on Sunday 20th July 2014 1-4pm, including being asked to cut the cake for the official opening. We took a selection of Rowntree’s memories donated as part of our oral history project, “York  Remembers Rowntree”. People had a go at three of the tests used by the Rowntree’s factory to see whether they too could have been an employee and we gathered some more postcard memories.

Launching of an Audio-post in Rowntree Park 21st October 2014

This permanent installation (by the Richardson St entrance) features eight highlighted memories recorded by local residents. Next time you’re in the Park, come along, select a memory, turn the dial, crank the handle and listen to a unique piece of York history as it unfolds.

The unveiling was accompanied by a small exhibition in the Reading Café of the oral history project. Notable exhibits include donated items from project participants such as a Rowntree’s fireman’s helmet, Black Magic Boxes and a selection of original workforce documentation. We also had a replica of one of the psychometric tests used to assess workers entering the factory- a Moorees form board for people to see if they had the skills to work at Rowntree’s.


‘Towards a Rowntree Agenda’ Workshop

Towards the end of the project we brought together a group of 70 people from across the country in a Workshop to discuss what Rowntree means today.

Towards a Rowntree Agenda workshop.

The final report is available Workshop Report.

Please get in touch if you’d like more information about our project.

Get Fundraising

We are a small charity that relies on the generosity of our friends and supporters to run projects. Please join us in expanding this work by making a financial donation. It is easy to pay online (with or without Giftaid) by clicking the link below – or get in touch about other ways of giving, info@rowntreesociety.org.uk

Let's go