Cocoa Works progress

Brick and stone factory building with windows removed, seen through trees

Some months on from my earlier visit, I noticed in passing recently that there have been some visible changes to the former Rowntree factory building — aka the Cocoa Works development. I know many readers have fond memories of this place, and that many are interested in its redevelopment. I went up that way on Sunday to take some photos.

Factory lit by sunlight over dark winter street

Cocoa Works from Haxby Road, 12 Dec 2021

As always, its brickwork catches the late afternoon light rather handsomely from this side, above the shade in the winter streets below.

Back in autumn 2004, on one of my York Walks, (heading for the old Fever Hospital, though a page about it didn’t appear until much later), I passed that corner and took a photo of the factory glowing in the sunlight of that year.

Factory building in sunlight, behind tree branches

Corner of the factory building, from Haxby Rd bridge, 4 Nov 2004

Clearly, judging by the steam coming from it, the building was still in use at that point, but I’m not sure what this part of it was used for. (If you do, please add a comment below.)

That’s many years back. This old factory has been empty for years, awaiting redevelopment. When I wrote about it earlier this year, though there was a new section of road alongside it, there wasn’t much to see in terms of work on the building itself, but now there is.

Large factory building with windows removed and hoardings around

Cocoa Works, 12 Dec 2021

A major recent change visible from the street is the work to remove the factory windows. And so many windows there are …

Factory redevelopment work

Window removal underway, 12 Dec 2021

Further along the long frontage I stopped to take a photo from a familiar reference point I’ve used before to record the changes here (mainly nature taking over, and also razor wire at one point).

Rubble and moss with factory entrance behind

Main entrance, 12 Dec 2021

Another photo taken all those years back, 2004, to compare with the above:

Factory entrance, showing gates and driveway, through garden area

Entrance to the factory, 4 Nov 2004

But back into the present, as our walk along the long factory frontage takes us to the end of this massive building.

Shell of old factory building with hoardings below showing images of how it will look

End of the old place …

The winter sun shines through it, while the adverts on the hoardings below show how it will look in the future.

I then headed round to the side the sun was on, Cocoa West, via the cycle track (former railway line), with the factory brickwork still sunlit above. More on Cocoa West soon.

cocoa-works-from cycle-track-121221

. . . . .

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  1. Deborah Roberts

    Utterly heart breaking to see what has happened here to a brilliant and caring local company before the damned Swiss got their hands on it. Sir Donald Baron will be turning in his grave along with the likes of all the Rowntree family who gave so much to their workers.

    • I totally agree – I left York in 1987 & am shocked to see the demise of “Rowntrees” . My Aunty Dot & my Grandma worked at at the factory during WW2 it was an institution in York as was Terry’s and Cravens. It is just obscene how these wonderful factories are killed off.

  2. Deborah Roberts

    You ask about the area at the end of the building that faces Haxby Road .
    There was an entrance there and at the start of the corridor was the ” waste shop ” where we would all go to top up our sugar intake by means of all the Rowntree products on offer at greatly reduced prices . You then to my recall were close to the area where they actually mixed the beans and turned them into chocolate in great metal bowls taller than a man . I sadly remember someone getting killed in one of them .They were referred to as the conches
    My father as a Rowntree brickie help build that block and fell off the scaffolding doing so !

  3. I hope you can revisit this against n, it must have progressed quite a bit in the last few years! I doubt a Rowntree’s worker would be unable to afford one!

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