Inscribed into every street of York and hidden in every twist and turn, nook and cranny of our city, lurks the legacy of Joseph Rowntree. From the physical bricks and mortar built by Rowntree himself that we unwittingly walk past most days, to the welfare and health of York’s modern community, every York resident is touched by in some way, subtle or direct, by Joseph Rowntree’s tireless and inspiring work in our city.
Now a Facebook campaign has been launched calling for York to pay back this key player in its history by erecting a statue of Joseph Rowntree in the city centre to serve as a permanent and tangible reminder of his efforts to be admired by future generations.
The online campaign “A Joseph Rowntree statue for York City Centre” wants to rally up York’s residents to encourage the council to use the gaping empty space left by the demolition of the much debated public toilets on Parlaiment Street as the viewing platform for a stone Joseph Rowntree to survey the city he, in part, created.
For the driving forces behind this plan, this statue would form the apex of what has been already been a big year for spreading the memory of York’s chocolate and welfare reform hero with the opening of the new popular visitor attraction, York’s Sweet Story.
The Facebook group, which aims to push forward awareness of York’s historical icon across a very modern digital medium, says: “Now, more than ever, our society is drifting from Joseph’s ideals. The welfare state he helped to inspire is being eroded by government cut-backs, and big business and banks are becoming less interested in helping the people who help support them. Joseph did not believe in patching the end-results of poverty: he believed in curing its causes.
“The poverty and slums Joseph faced may not be such a problem as it was, but inequality and ignorance increasingly prevail, with philanthropy a distant memory. Having such a figure as Joseph in the centre of our city would help to inspire hope and action from ours and future generations. So, please, lend your support to this cause and let York’s greatest son, Joseph Rowntree, stand over us and be an example as to how we should live our lives and help those of others.”
To get behind the campaign visit and like the Facebook page here.