Relatives at Rowntree’s 1

As was common with many York families lots of my mum’s side of the family worked at Rowntree’s chocolate factory. Mum’s grandad, John Neale, known as Jack at home and Jackie at Rowntree’s, started working there in June 1903. In the Summer 1954 edition of the Cocoa Works Magazine (CWM) it was noted that Jackie had retired from the starch room where he had worked for 51 years on gums and pastilles. The CWM called him a trusted ‘old guard’. A substantial sum of bank notes contributed by his workmates was presented to him by Mr NG Sparkes on 26.5.1954 (Neville Sparkes managed County Industries Ltd, the fuse filling department during the war, and also managed the gum department). Jack had married Alice Elizabeth Craven on 26.12.1911 at Heworth Church. Alice had been working in gum picking for 10 years. On leaving to get married, she was given a brass curb and irons, a glass and brass fire screen, a fire tidy, a sitting room rug and 3 door mats. She also received the firm’s gift. Jack signed up for the First World War in December 1915. Thankfully he came home. They got a Christmas box from the company each year.    

Jack Neale and wife Alice and daughter Millicent World War I
Jack and Alice on their 60th Wedding Anniversary 26.12.1971

Jack and Alice’s elder daughter, Millie, worked in cream packing. She did sorting and packing and was on 13 conveyor. Her boss was Iris. Millie met her husband, Jim Cooper, at Rowntree’s. During Jim’s 50-year Rowntree’s career, Jim worked in cream, gum and moulded choc, and was promoted to B overlooker in 1950 and A overlooker in 1959. From 1970 until his retirement he was production assistant in the elect and extract department. I’m told that Jim had to stand on a box when he first started to reach the machinery.  

Cream packing outing 1954 – Millie fifth from right
From Yorkshire Evening Press. Cream outing to Redcar 1955
Cream packing outing 1955 – Millie towards left hand side in coat with shawl collar
Rowntree’s rugby team 1940’s – Jim middle row far right
Rugby 1956 – Jim now coaching – back left

Jim played and then coached rugby at Rowntree’s. It was reported in the Christmas 1953 edition of CWM that it was difficult to get enough players for the Senior Rugby Club because lots of them work shifts. They had had a successful 1952/53 season. Jim also did tug of war for Rowntree’s.

Rowntree’s tug of war

Jim and Millie got married on 27.12.1930 at St Cuthbert’s Church. They had 5 children: Jack, Jean, Judy, Marjorie and David.

Coopers at Butlins

Only Jack didn’t work at Rowntree’s. Jean worked in sales statistics from 17.8.1953 to 17.10.1958. She worked on punch cards (an early computer). She left to go to the Electricity Board offices. Her leaving gift was a travelling clock. Judy started on 13.8.1956 as a Wage Office messenger then moved to Traffic/Transport, where her boss was Mr Jefferson from New Earswick. She was given a clock when she married in 1964 and then she left in 1965. Marjorie worked in Associated Sales Control from 1957 until 1965. David worked in packing and store from 1960 until 1961 during holidays from art college in London. He used to borrow jazz records from the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Library.

Marjorie and Judy were given a tea-service after being after being at Rowntree’s for 7 years.

Judy worked as a shorthand typist. She began shorthand at the Technical College and later at Rowntree’s Day Continuation School.

Jack and Alice’s younger daughter, Betty, married Derrick Gosley. Before the Second World War, Derrick did 9 years of days and then 15 years of nights at Rowntree’s. He was in moulded choc (Kit Kat) and then packing. He earned £18- 19/week, which was good money, but Rowntree’s expected long hours.

Betty and Derrick’s wedding 15.9.1945 at Heworth Church

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