DEVELOPERS who are converting a former Rowntree's factory in York into homes are appealing for help in recording the iconic site's rich history.

The Haxby Road site, the former home of Rowntree’s Almond and Cream buildings, is being converted into a new community of homes, gardens and communal spaces.

The factory, built by Sir Joseph Rowntree in the early 1890s, has been empty and unused for a number of years but will be revamped by Latimer, the private sale arm of the UK’s largest housing association Clarion Housing Group.

Latimer plans to create 279 new homes at the development, named ‘The Cocoa Works’, of which 84 will be available to buy via shared ownership. The listed Joseph Rowntree Memorial Library at the front of the site will be refurbished and restored as a concierge base and communal area. A convenience store, ample parking and bike storage space will also be provided for homeowners.

In the 1920s more than 6,000 people worked in the building, known as York’s ‘Garden Factory’, where open space and education facilities supported the wellbeing of workers and their families.

Now Latimer is looking for readers to come forward with stories of their own family members and friends’ experiences of working in the Haxby Road factory.

A spokesperson said: "Latimer is looking for accounts of this unique period, relating to workers and families from the 1890s onwards, to create a ‘Sweet Memories’ public exhibition in the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Library.

"If you or your relatives worked at the factory, Latimer would like to hear what life was like during that time, how the Rowntree family is remembered and any insightful experiences you shared with other workers and friends."

Email submissions to: or post to FAO Sweet Memories at Cocoa Works, Beattie, 4 Church Walk, Leeds, LS2 7EG with name and contact details.

Those contributing will also be considered for a new ‘Factory Forum’ group, which will meet regularly to receive updates on the development and share thoughts and suggestions with the Latimer team.

Richard Cook, Group Director of Development at Latimer, said: “Sir Joseph Rowntree was committed to enhancing the social conditions of his workers ensuring they had access to healthy food, healthcare and learning opportunities. He also built affordable housing for workers and their families.

“Clarion’s founder William Sutton, a 19th Century entrepreneur, gifted his entire fortune into philanthropic trusts, establishing the William Sutton Housing Trust, so our business shares a great deal of shared social values with Sir Rowntree.

“We want to invoke the legacy and work of both these remarkable people by breathing fresh life into a heritage building that was the soul of York for more than 130 years and ensure it thrives as a community once again.

“We look forward to unveiling a brand new Cocoa Works to the people of the city in the coming months.”

For more information about homes available to buy, visit