York's premier chocolate factory has been providing jobs for the city's workers for more than a century and a half - ever since it was founded (in Castlegate) by Quaker Henry Isaac Rowntree in 1862 after he bought out the Tuke family.

It has moved its base of operations several times since - first to Tanner's Moat in 1864 then, after the purchase of 20 acres of land at Haxby Road in the 1890s, to its present site.

It has gone through several names and owners - Joseph Rowntree and Co; Rowntree Mackintosh; and, most recently, Nestlé.

And it has produced some iconic chocolate brands: Smarties, Rolo, Quality Street and, perhaps most famous of all, Kit Kat.

York Press:

Undated aerial view of the 'new' Rowntree factory off Haxby Road

The company at various times had its own railway halt; its own fleet of delivery trucks; and its own research and development centre.

And, in the early days especially, under the influence of Joseph Rowntree and his son Seebohm, it was a pioneer of workers' rights, holding sports days, and opening a theatre and memorial library for its workers.

Rowntree bosses were amongst the leading figures of the city - and an annual visit to the chocolate factory to meet staff and managers was a highlight of every Lord Mayor's year.

Throughout the years, photographers from the Yorkshire Evening Press were regular visitors to the factory - photographing civic visits, staff working on the factory floor, maintenance workers, managers, and employees clocking off after a busy shift.

York Press:

Rowntree workers leaving the factory after a shift: date unknown

They photographed Rowntree delivery lorries; the inside of the memorial library; and the unveiling, in 1993, of the 'new look' Kit Kat.

We have been digging around in our electronic archive to unearth a selection of photos, mainly from the last 50 years.

They give a wonderful glimpse 'behind the scenes' of a chocolate factory that has meant so much to York.