Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

York (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SE 60658 53551




II Library, 1927, designed by Fred Rowntree.

MATERIALS: red brick laid in raking stretcher bond, with roofs in slate, some stone dressings and small-paned metal framed and leaded windows throughout.

PLAN: the library has three single storey bays to either side of a two-storey central bay with projecting gable to the front, with pitched roofs throughout.

EXTERIOR: the front elevation has a central projecting bay with an entrance having white stone pilasters and consoles supporting a plain architrave and cornice. The door is half glazed with leaded lights and a rectangular fanlight above. Above is a Venetian window with stone dressings. There are small windows on the ground floor on either side of the projecting bay. To either side are three round-arched windows. Each gable end has a large round-arched window with multiple small panes and leading. The gables are raised throughout. The rear windows are raised and smaller apart from a central stair window: all are rectangular with leading. To the rear is an attached brick building of later date which covers the approach to a subway beneath the library and road, leading to the former dining block of Rowntrees factory: this attached building is not of special interest.

INTERIOR: the entrance doors lead into a small vestibule with double inner glazed doors. The interior has 6 exposed trusses with queen posts rising from the floor and pegged joints in dark stained wood: elsewhere the wood is finished with a pale varnish. Panelling around the inner doors includes an inscribed panel above the door reading: THIS LIBRARY IS ERECTED AS A MEMORIAL TO/JOSEPH ROWNTREE 1836-1925/ IN GRATITUDE FOR A LIFE OF DEVOTED SERVICE. To either side of the inner doors is an integral wooden rack for umbrellas, beyond which is a door to storage/staff rooms on either side. Original fitted bookcases line the side walls, continuous to the rear and between the windows to the front. There is a recent reception desk at the right end and a door to the rear in the centre.

Opposite the entrance is a staircase with wooden balusters and handrail to the first floor. This consists of a single room with a wooden panelled partition from the staircase. Wooden panels with dedications reading A NUMBER OF/ BOOKS IN THIS/ ROOM ARE FROM/ JOSEPH/ ROWNTREE'S/ PERSONAL LIBRARY/ PRESENTED TO THE / COCOA WORKS BY/ HIS CHILDREN and THIS BUILDING / WAS ERECTED BY/ ROWNTREE & Co Ltd/ AND ITS INTERIOR/ DECORATIONS WERE/ PROVIDED BY THE/ EMPLOYEES AS A/ MEMORIAL TO/ JOSEPH/ ROWNTREE. Fitted magazine racks and cupboards along the side walls and beneath the Venetian window.

SETTING:the library is at the eastern side of the large complex of factory buildings at Nestle Rowntree in York. It faces onto Haxby Road, away from the factory, but can be accessed from the factory site at the rear.

HISTORY: the building was erected in 1927, and designed by Fred Rowntree. It was built to commemorate the life of Joseph Rowntree and housed the company library which was previously housed within the factory. It is still owned by the Nestle company but is run by City of York COuncil as part of its library service.

Fred Rowntree had an architectural practice at Scarborough, Glasgow and London at various times, and designed some buildings at the Rowntree factory. The library is the only surviving building that can definitely be assigned to him.

SOURCE: Hall Grey Associates, Rowntree Cocoa Works York Historic Building Report (2006)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION * The library is an intact and unaltered example of an inter-war library * It has strong historical associations with the nationally important figure of Joseph Rowntree * It retains a large number of original fittings and fixtures of high quality * The library is an unaltered example of Arts and Crafts inspired architecture


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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