B. Seebohm Rowntree   C.H., LL.D., D.H.L., R.St.O.O. 
1871 -1954

In Memoriam

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Chief Factory Shop Steward

COMPARED with previous speakers and others present and also compared with my predecessor (Mr. F. Hawksby), I had very

little personal contact with Mr. Seebohm Rowntree, but on my files are to be found some of the results of his work, his outlook, his guidance, and his philosophy, from which so many benefits have accrued to the members of the Cocoa Works' community, past and present. Not only was he a brilliant sociologist; he was also a great business executive; and he had the gift of combining the two. He succeeded in putting his precepts into practice in his own factory; and his reputation stood high in industry and in many national institutions as a result. My general assessment of B.S.R. was that he was generous in thought and just in his actions - a busy man who gave up much of his leisure time in the interests of humanity; and not only the Cocoa Works' community but also our city must inevitably have benefited.

On the occasion of his 81st birthday I sent him a letter of congratulation on behalf of the Central Works' Council (he was on

holiday in Norway at the time) and in his reply, he said:

"This house is close to the sea and in past years I have done a lot of bathing here but the weather since I came here has been so bad that we have only bathed twice.

"1 have been so busy since I retired that I seldom have time to come to York. I think I have worked harder since my retirement than I did at the Works. I advise my friends not to retire unless they are very strong."

To me, that is symbolic of B.S.R., and proves that his reserves of physical and mental energy were phenomenal. Another reminder of his outlook was something he said on more than one occasion in my presence; it was this:

"We should not talk so glibly of 'the boss' and 'the workers' (or 'they' and 'us' as is sometimes the case); we are all workers in industry .The boss is the consumer; it is he who dictates the requirements. It is our job to cope in our respective capacities."

There is, I think, a lesson there to pass on to our younger generation. Finally, I think I would be expressing the thoughts of administrative representatives and workers alike in saying how sorry we are that the life of such an extraordinary man has come to an end; and to his family we would hope that there is one consolation at least in that he survived a great span of life without any undue suffering or infirmity. To the Cocoa Works' community, I would commend our present industrial environment as part of the legacy left by Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree.