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18 June 2014
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Piping chocolates
Rowntrees employee piping chocolates, 1956

© Borthwick Institute
“Very strict but very good …”: Women’s memories of rules and regulations at the Rowntree factory, York

Founded in 1864, the Rowntree confectionery factory in York became famous for products such as Kit Kat, Smarties and Black Magic, as well as for its advanced policies of industrial welfare. As Quakers, the Rowntree family (especially Joseph and his son Benjamin Seebohm) were committed to schemes such as the provision of a company doctor. They were particularly concerned for the welfare and moral well-being of the women and girls employed to sort, decorate and pack the confectionery. In 1891, therefore, a Lady Welfare Supervisor was appointed to oversee the behaviour of female employees, who at this time could be as young as 13. Factory rules aimed to enforce what was seen as appropriate behaviour for women workers, as well as to encourage maximum production. More...

Words: Emma Robertson

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