Rowntree factory site


Factory clock

About time I got around to noting the demise of part of the old Rowntree (Nestlé) factory site.

Though the main factory frontage onto Haxby Road remains intact, and manufacturing continues in more up-to-date purpose-built buildings, demolition of the area labelled Nestlé South began in the winter and continues.

This photo shows one of the factory clocks, on the Wigginton Road side of the site, where the demolition is taking place. It was taken in December 2009 (hence the snow on the ground) late in the afternoon. The timestamp on my digital photo says this image was taken in the late afternoon, but the factory clock still thinks it’s about twenty-five-to-two. It stopped long ago I guess and no one noticed, though it’s still standing there in the shrubbery. No one needs the factory clocks anymore. Though thinking about them reminded me of Chigley, which cheered me up. (See the link at the bottom of the page if a clip of Chigley might cheer you up too.)

Nestle Rowntree – buildings before demolition

Nestlé sold part of the factory site some years back, saying that this would allow them to continue more efficiently on the rest of the site, in buildings that are fit for purpose. I guess we can’t argue with that.

The buildings that have been demolished included the rather impressive range which loomed over the cycle track, by the long-disappeared ‘Rowntree Halt’ stop on the branch line when the cycle track was railway track.

These photos show the demolished building overlooking the cycle track, which had some interesting architectural details, particularly on the corners of the building. I didn’t realise it had a name, until recently, but read that this building was the Melangeur Block. It sounds like it was named after someone – Louis Melangeur perhaps? – it’s obviously not an English-sounding name. But apparently it refers to a mixing machine used in chocolate manufacture.

Old Rowntree buildings Detail – demolished Rowntree factory building

I’ve been a bit too busy to pop down here regularly, but have noticed in passing that there’s been a huge pile of rubble in the cleared area. Presumably this is the pulverised remains of the Melangeur Block and other parts of what an expanding business needed to build a hundred years ago and no longer needs now.

Demolition in progress, December 2009
Pile of rubble, Nestle South

Though brickwork is obvious in the Melangeur building, it also features in a book on Historic Concrete. Historic or not – it’s now no more. We await with interest the new developments on this site – hopefully they’ll include a wider cycle track exit up on to Wigginton Road towards Bootham Stray and New Earswick, and presumably there will be family-sized homes with a bit of garden, rather than yet more apartments/bedsits.

Escape to Chigley

When the factory clock showed six o’clock, they all went off for a dance . . . (YouTube clip)

– – – – – –

Update, 29 Dec 2021

Eleven years after the above was compiled, I’ve added a new page on plans recently approved for housing development on this site, now known as Cocoa West. There’s also a recent page on the adjacent retained factory buildings, the Cocoa Works development.

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  1. Anthony Roberts

    Hi is the old rowntree factory still standing today ? Thanks

  2. Hi, sorry for the delay in responding, yes the main block fronting onto Haxby Road has been retained and is now being converted to residential accommodation – see this more recent page: Cocoa Works: Rowntree factory development

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