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It’s a wrap: student documentary uncovers city’s chocolate heritage

University of York students have directed a documentary film which brings the city’s chocolate heritage to life for secondary schools.


From Factory to Front is a documentary video written, edited and directed by University of York students tracing Rowntree’s chocolate history around the time of the First World War
‌From Factory to Front is a six-minute online video tracing the history of York’s Rowntree factory and those who worked there in the build-up to and during the First World War. Written, edited and directed by students, the film includes black and white stills of the factory and its workforce in the early 1900s, as well as the accounts of men who were called up from the chocolate production lines to fight at the front. It also outlines the struggles faced by residents who had to reconcile the beliefs of conscientious objection against family loyalties.

The film is part of a package of educational resources being developed for schools to support the city-wide Blood + Chocolate project to be staged by Pilot Theatre later this year.

Helen Cadbury, Education Associate at Pilot Theatre said:

"The students have achieved something that looks easy but is actually very difficult. They have distilled the very broad range of subjects that give Blood + Chocolate its historical context, into a digestible, bite-sized film.”

University of York students also worked with BBC Radio York to capture the memories of residents who worked in York’s chocolate factories for a radio show to be aired in September. Another team created a heritage trail Cocoa Hotspots of York in collaboration with The Rowntree Society.

Liam Evans-Ford, Producer of Blood + Chocolate for Pilot Theatre, based in York Theatre Royal, said:

“I have been really impressed with the quality and creativity of the students’ projects. It is fantastic to have all of these extra resources and materials uncovering York's chocolate heritage, which just would not have been possible without them!”

The experience of working with Pilot Theatre BBC Radio York and has been invaluable

Charlotte Vinsen

First year student Charlotte Vinsen said:

“York’s chocolate heritage is the new tourist drive for the city and our volunteer work aims to support events taking place around the city, including the Blood + Chocolate performance which will transform the city into a World War I front line. The experience of working with Pilot Theatre BBC Radio York and has been invaluable. I have learned so much about the media including technical training and bespoke training on producing a show with an overriding narrative.”

The student projects are part of the University of York’s @Work programme, a collaboration between Careers and the departments of English and Related Literature, Education and History of Art. First and second year student volunteers spent the latter part of the summer term working with charities, businesses, local councils and schools on a range of projects including a storytelling event at the Yorkshire Museum and creating heritage resources for the National Trust and Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.

Blood + Chocolate will be staged in the streets of York from 3 to 20 October.

Further information