The following article and pictures were taken from The Cocoa Works Magazine (December 1935), retyped verbatim although the pictures were separated from the article in the original.
Front view of Joseph Rowntree Hall
The Joseph Rowntree Hall was formally opened on Monday, November 18th, by Mr. B Seebohm Rowntree, Chairman of the Company.
Amongst those present were:- The Right Hon. the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of York (Councillor W. H. Shaw and Mrs. Shaw), the Sheriff of York and his Lady (Councillor C. F. Sanderson and Mrs Sanderson), the Town Clerk of York, Mr. Reginald Anderson and Mrs Anderson, Councillor Hargrave (Chairman, York Education Committee) and Mrs. Hargrave, Mr. G. H. Gray (Secretary, York Education Committee) and Mrs. Gray, Mr. C. J. Minter (City Surveyor) and Mrs. Minter, Mr. H. H. Herman, O.B.E. (Chief Constable of York) and Mrs Herman, the Mayor and Mayoress of Harrogate (Councillor and Mirs S. Cartwright), Lady Dawson and Miss Dawson. Represending the New Earswick Village Counceil, Mr. F. Rennison (Chairman) and Mrs. Rennison, and Mr. Hubbard (Secretary) and Mrs. Hubbard; Workers' Educational Association, Mr. and Mrs. J. Leefe; Settlement Community Players, Mr. E. W. Taylor; New Earswick Dramatic Society, Mr. R. A. Slack; Terry's Dramatic Society, Miss E. M. Lay; Acomb Church Dramatic Society, Mr R. Daniel; English Martyrs Dramatic Society, Mr W. Toland; Garrick Players, Miss Eileen Priestman.
Mr. B. S. Rowntree said:- "When I first became associated with this business, we used to work fifty-four hours a week. Our working week began at six o'clock on Monday morning and we finished at one o'clock on Saturday afternoon. To-day we work forty-four hours a week, beginning at 7.30 on Monday morning and finishing at five o'clock on Friday afternoon. The reduction of hours in this factory has been greater than the average for the country. We have been working a five-day week here for the last sixteen years."
"I think there is no doubt that with the increasing use of labour-saving machinery and the remarkable developments that are taking place in the organisation of industry, the normal hours of work will be still further reduced. It is not extravagant to suppose that they may be reduced to 30 or 36 hours a week within the next twenty or thirty years."
"As the amount of leisure increases so does the importance of using it wisely. Leisure has indeed been well described as the growing time of the human spirit. Its is the time for self-development and for satisfying those personal longing which the ordinary working in industry is unable to satisfy in his daily work. It is true, therefore, to say that the character of the British people will depend more and more, as the hours of work are reduced, on the way that they spend their leisure."
"But just as industry requires tools and buildings, so leisure must have adequate facilities. For it is useless to speak of spending wisely if the opportunities for it are lacking."
"We have in this factory, for many years, made fairly liberal provision for many indoor and outdoor games, for handicrafts and educational classes. There are football fields and cricket grounds, tennis courts and a bowling green; we also have halls for gymnastics and dancing, and just a few yards away from this building is the swimming bath which the Company presented to the City some years ago. But the hall which has been used for concerts, dramatic entertainment, lectures and cinematograph shows has, in recent years, become very inadequate and is not comfortable."
"The Joseph Rowntree Village Trustees have built this hall in order to make good this deficiency. In doing so they have recognised the vital importance of this question of leisure and they have sought to create a fitting centre for some of the educational and recreational activities. The ideal of the Trustees has been to make the design and equipment of the hall as perfect as possible. It is intended primarily for the benefit of the large community connected with Cocoa Works, but is hoped that it will also be largely made use of by others. In any case, the Trustees feel that the benefits resulting from its use will not be confined to the Cocoa Woks but will flow over into the larger community outside."
The opening item was a display of Greek dancing by the dancing section, and then Rowntree's prize band played their test piece, a selection of Wagner's compositions, with which they won the first prize and 50-guinea challenge cup at the May championship brass festival, held at Belle Vue, Manchester. This was followed by an exhibition of gymnastics and pyramid building by some of the boys at the Works; a demonstration of the ingenious and wonderfully effective lighting systeml a cameo play entitled "Beau of Bath"; a short programme of sound films; and. finally, the execution scene of "Hassan."
The firm of architects responsible for New Earswick designed this Hall, and Mr. Peter Rowntree, one of the Trustees, spent much time and care in making it one of the most up-to-date halls in the country.
The building, which is approached by a warmly decorated foyer, has a total seating capacity of 450 &emdash 324 seats upon the ground floor and 126 in the balcony. It may be added that the seats, which are of the orthodox theatre tip-up type, are well upholstered and comfortable.
An expert was consulted about the acoustic properties of the Hall, which are believed to be very good.
The air is changed six times per hour by one of the most up-to-date systems in the country, a system which also enabled the temperature to be controlled.
Interior view of Joseph Rowntree Hall from the stage
In front of the stage is an orchestra well designed to accommodate sixteen players and which, on occasions when the Hall is to be used for lectures can be covered by an "apron stage" cut off from the stage proper by the fire curtain. This arrangement affords a screen for lantern and cinematograph lectures, and obviates the necessity for heating the whole hall when the stage is not in use.
Passing behind the fire curtain, we find the stage fitted with the latest equipment both of lighting and curtains of which there is large choice; together with a cyclorama. The equipment has been specially chosen with a view to enabling amateurs to produce a variety of plays at a modest cost. In many cases no additional scenery will be necessary. The curved cyclorama makes it possible to obtain a greater variety of settings for the play with the minimum of expenditure, and also helps to throw the sound forward into the Hall.
Behind the stage are four well-fitted dressing rooms in which the convenience of the artists has been carefully studied.
Above the balcony at the auditorium is the Bio Room, which is fitted with the latest 16 mm. talkie apparatus and facilities for reproducing gramophone records through the loud speaker which is situated at the back of the orchestra well. This will enable the users to produce stage effects and incidental music when the orchestra is not available.
At the opening of the Joseph Rowntree Hall