A CAMPAIGN has been started to put a statue of Joseph Rowntree at the site of the former “splash palace”.

The Facebook page “A Joseph Rowntree statue for York city centre” asks for a statue to remember the philanthropist, social reformer, and chocolatier, suggesting the memorial could go at the former site of the Parliament Street public toilets, currently used by street performers.

The page reads: “York should be proud of its greatest son.

“This campaign aims to place a statue of Joseph Rowntree, philanthropist, social reformer, and chocolatier... on the site of the repulsed and now-demolished toilet block. The head of a chocolate empire in a period of rushed industrialisation, slums and mass poverty, Joseph Rowntree paved the way, through his philanthropy and charitable trusts, to change that status quo.

“His factories, schools, swimming pool, library, public park, and village of New Earswick , stand testament to how he and his company changed people’s lives for the better.

“Rowntree provided free education for his workers under 17 years; he also gave his workforce a social welfare officer, a doctor, a dentist, and pension schemes – all things we now take for granted.

“He did this in the belief it was right and this belief, through his trusts, still helps thousands every year.

“Why then has this incredible self-made man been overlooked by the city whose people he helped so much?

“The historic city of York should have a statue of Joseph Rowntree placed at its centre – its heart – as an inspiration to us all.”

However, a spokesman for City of York Council said no decisions had been made about the future of the space.

Mike Slater, assistant director of planning and sustainable development, said: “York is proud to be home to many famous and influential people and we do get quite a number of requests for statues in city centre locations.

“However, we are still in the early stages of determining the future use of this site and if this will or will not include public art.”

• There are thought to be four public statues in York. They are the Emperor Constantine outside York Minster, George Leeman in Station Road, Queen Victoria in West Bank Park and William Etty outside York Art Gallery.