Monday, 23 June 2014

From Liège to York and back again: Nestlé looking for Belgian refugees memorabilia

Members of the Loix family, whose members fled Liège in August 1914, will meet members of the Rutterford family, whose relatives worked at Rowntree's, the York chocolate factory. The meeting will form part of the official events run by the Mayor of Liège's, marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war.

When tens of thousands of Belgians fled to Britain in August-September-October 1914, some went to or were went to York. Staff at the Rowntree's factory in Haxby Road set up a donation fund and a council to distribute resources and found accommodation for the refugees.

Alex Hutchinson, Nestlé heritage assistant said Nestlé's archives would be used to support the events in Liège, including an exhibition on the outbreak of hostilities in the town and the refugees who fled to York.

"Although the Rowntree family members were pacifists, and opposed to war, they were keen to help as many victims of the hostilities as possible. Those refugees who were able to work were given employment in the chocolate factory, but most had to be supported by donations from Rowntree's workers. Employees at the factory formed a council to manage and distribute resources until the end of hostilities. Factory workers cleared cottages in New Earswick, and space in the factory grounds for living accommodation."
Miss Hutchinson is appealing for anyone in York who has any photographs or memorabilia relating to the Belgian refugees to come forward.

Anyone who is able to help is asked to phone Nestlé's consumer services department on 00800 6378 5385 or 0800 00 00 30, or to write to Nestlé UK Ltd, Haxby Road, York, YO91 1XY, or to tweet @nestleUK or to contact via the webpage.

The text above is based on an article from York Press, 12 June.

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