Film ID: YFA 2276 Video of 2276 Seebohm Rowntree Wife and Friends 1935-1936 SEEBOHM ROWNTREE, WIFE AND FRIENDS 1935-1936 Visitor TabsDescription Part of the collection of personal family films of the Rowntrees, this film contains rare images of Seebohm Rowntree and his family during their leisure time. Seebohm was the third child of Quaker chocolate manufacture Joseph Rowntree and eventually became chairman of the company from 1923-1941. The film contains both Dufay colour and black and white film stock. Title - Homes and Castles in England. Seebohm Rowntree is always at home in the hearts of his friends. - Whether with the Causeys at Gipsy Trail in 1935. Seebhom and his wife are seated in chairs by a lake with another couple. Seebhom's wife playfully holds a wicker basket over her husband's head. Title - Or with the Robinsons in Billie in Bronxville. Seebhom and his wife stand outside a large white house. Title - But North Jean Hughenden in Bucks holds Seebholm's and Lydia's household Gods freshly moved from the homestead, 1936. Ladies walk around the grounds of a stately home, and Seebhom Rowntree and his wife walk through the grounds as well. The two ladies admire the plants, and there is footage of the grounds, a walled garden, a barn, plants, greenhouses as well as a close up shot of the house. Black and white: Two girls are in the gardens, and the surrounding countryside can also be seen. Colour: A girl rides a horse past a large house and through some fields. Mrs Rowntree and her daughter walk towards the camera, away from the house. They are holding puppies and accompanied by a dog. There is further footage of the grounds as well as a large church and an estate. Black and white: A man and two women are standing outside of a cottage. Colour: Two men look at flowers as they walk around the grounds of the house. There is footage of a church yard, and at a lovely cottage, a man stands in the doorway looking out on the garden. A large estate and its surrounding grounds can be seen. Here there is a girl riding a horse, sheep in a field, a village church, and cattle in the river. Seebhom Rowntree, his wife and family sit outside in the gardens. Black and white: Views of the countryside, and the Vicar and children ring the church bell. This is followed by scenes of a village street, W. J. Morris & Sons shop. Colour: The film closes with scenes of stables, a girl riding a horse, and Seebhom Rowntree and family in gardens. Context This is one of several films of the Rowntree family at leisure from the 1930s. A similar film to this one, Rowntree Family Scenes (1937), shows the family relaxing at their home and on their private yacht. They are part of a much larger collection of films made by Rowntree’s of York (now Nestlé). From shortly before this, in the years 1931 to 1933, they also made a film of their factory in East London, South Africa, and of a tour of countries in West Africa, where cocoa plantations had been established (Nigeria, the Gold Coast and Ghana); at that time supplying nearly 80% of the world’s cocoa. Most of the films came via the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, based at the University of York. Other films have come from different sources, such as Ken Clough, a former engineering designer for Rowntree who filmed many of their manufacturing processes. However, the vast bulk of the films are adverts for their confectionary products: including Rolo, Black Magic, Toffee Crisp, Smarties, Milky Bar, KitKat, Dairy box and many other brands made between 1929 and 1990. The earliest one of the adverts is the 1929 Mr York of York, Yorks, the first animated advertisement to be made with synchronised sound, also online. One intriguing aspect of this film of family and friends is that it is the only one that Rowntree made which was shot in Dufay colour, a relatively rare film format invented by the French chemist Louis Dufay. The original idea of using a black and white film with separate filters for the three primary colours had been proposed as early as 1861 by James Clark Maxwell. Dufay patented a process in 1908 using a tri-colour reseau filter which produced a mosaic pattern of green lines interspersed with rows of red and green squares (see the excellent article by Grahame Newnham for a fuller technical description). Newnham relates that, soon before this film was made, “the first 16mm Dufaycolor filmstock, together with an improved 35mm emulsion was presented at the Savoy Hotel in April 1934 and launched commercially in September with great success using the slogan ‘Dufaycolor: Everybody's Colour Film’.” This process was again improved upon in 1937. It isn't known though who was behind the camera. This film would have been made at a time when the Rowntrees business was struggling both at home and in its exports, with the world wide depression in full swing. In 1935 Seebohm directed the second survey of poverty in York, published as Progress and Poverty, in 1941. This was also his last full year living at Homestead in York. The following year, in July, he moved to North Dean, High Wycombe and sold the property to the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust (now the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) at site value, on condition that the gardens be maintained as a public park – which they have. Seebohm Rowntree, like his father Joseph Jnr, and his grandfather Joseph Snr, was a pioneer in industrial and social welfare. And like them too he can certainly be said to have led a very active life: most of which was in the public domain, rather than in relation to his business, which was mainly run by others – as a young man he copied the following motto from the American Oliver Wendall Holmes : ‘Put not your trust in money but your money in trust’. He is probably most famous for his early research into poverty which led to a lifetime devotion to welfare reform, continuing the work of the trusts set up by his father – see the Context for Rowntrees Sports Day (c.1947). His Poverty: A Study of Town Life, first published in 1901, coined the term ‘poverty line’. Later, in his book The Human Needs of Labour of 1918, he argued for a government enforced minimum wage and the introduction of family allowances. Soon after this he published another book in 1921, The Human Factor in Business, in which he argues for a new, more democratic, style of management in industry. Influenced by the growth of industrial psychology, Rowntree was looking for a humanistic and scientific basis for employee relations. This led to the establishment of a Works Councils in 1919, and a profit-sharing scheme, similar to those used in the John Lewis Partnership. On the advice of the leading psychologist in this field at the time, Charles Myers, they also appointed a full-time Works Psychologist, the first post of its kind in the country – thus starting a long-term association with the National Institute of Industrial Psychology, and in particular with pioneering industrial psychologist (and novelist) Nigel Balchin. In the 1930s Rowntree was also influenced by the ideas of Elton Mayo on the importance of fostering group identity in the workplace. Another aspect of this was Rowntree’s belief in paying a reasonable wage and having a happy workforce. They set up a pension scheme two years before the state one came into being. In part this was enlightened self-interest, when the unions were gaining in power, and in increasing productivity; but it also reflected a genuine belief in minimum standards for all. Hence in the new factory on Haxby Road there were lawn tennis courts and a bowling green for the employees. Also provided was a swimming pool, dancing classes, gardening and a gymnasium group. There was an angling club, departmental netball and football competitions, as well as teams competing in local leagues. There was also a Boy’s Club, offering trips to the countryside. The Rowntree Theatre opened as The Joseph Rowntree Hall in 1935, renamed The Joseph Rowntree Theatre in 1946. Before the war it put on cowboy films for factory employees. After the war films were shown in the canteen during the lunch hour. Andrew Martin, who had family members who worked in the factory, as did he, claims that workers liked to work there. The first part of the full film shown here shows Seebohm Rowntree, then aged 65, on one of his many trips to the US (the confusing opening caption refers to later in the film). Seebohm had very close relations with the US: his previously mentioned book of 1921, The Human Factor in Business, was required reading in many American universities. The first clip from the film shows Seebohm, with pipe, and his wife visiting friends in New York. The first section is with James H. Causey, on the far left with the yellow tie, and his second wife at their cottage on the edge of the scenic Pine Pond, in New York. The nearby Gipsy Trail Club, of which Causey was a member, was formed in 1928, basically running outdoor leisure activities – which it still does to this day. Causey was, like Rowntree, a businessman and philanthropist. Among his various donations was the Foster Building to Denver University, and to provide income for a Social Science Foundation whose purpose was to "create international, social, and industrial goodwill." He was also a campaigner against corruption in political life, and financed the Whitestone and Henry Hudson bridges in New York, the latter opening around the time of this film in 1936. He died in 1943, reportedly of “ptomaine poisoning” – a diagnosis which has subsequently fallen out of use. In the following year to this visit, in November 1936, Causey asked Seebohm Rowntree if he would like to “speak in half-a-dozen important American cities if the invitation came from important business or educational groups.” This he duly did in 1937. One of these was to the 52nd Episcopal Church in October 1937, on ‘Christianity and Industrial Relations’, in which he called for more justice in relations between employers and workers (Asa Briggs gives a full summary of the speech). This was a time of extreme strain in industrial relations, and Rowntree feared that if business did not recognise the legitimate demands of workers, and work co-operatively with trade unions, then class war would break out. As in fact it already was: in 1936 the American novelist John Steinbeck published In Dubious Battle, the first of his dustbowl trilogy – although here half the battle was getting work in the first place. The second clip shows Seebohm with an unidentified woman, presumably Helen Robinson (nee Ball, born 1895), the wife of Dr Leland Rex Robinson, a New York economist and investment banker, outside of their house ¬– given as 10708, Bronxville, Westchester County (Internet FAQ Archives). It is unclear who “Billie” is (perhaps the woman seen in the clip). Seebohm had known Leland Robinson since 1922, and they kept up an ongoing correspondence for many years. Again, they seemed to have shared similar ideas. Seebohm was a keen, though skeptical, supporter of Roosevelt’s New Deal, although it is unclear whether Robinson was (see Briggs). For such a pioneering figure little has been written on Seebohm Rowntree. The principle work on him was written by the social historian Asa Briggs, although this, excellent though it is, focuses on his social and industrial welfare work rather than the business or his personal life. For more on the background into the family business see the Context for Rowntree Sports Day (c.1946) and After Eight Adverts (1962). It is interesting to see the Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg recently advocating the sort of worker participation schemes that Seebohm promoted. Seebohm Rowntree had a strong belief in liberal principles – and as such a supporter of the Liberal Party – but given his equal concern to combat poverty, we can only speculate what he may have made of the present coalition government. References Asa Briggs, A Study of the Work of Seebohm Rowntree, Longman, 1961.Obituary for James H Causey, Putnam County News, April 8th 1943Joseph Rowntree Foundation Further Reading S. J. D. Green , The Passing of Protestant England: Secularisation and Social Change, c.1920–1960, Cambridge University Press, 2010.