24th August 2023
All change at Terry’s
Our member John Stevens looks at the development of the Terry's site in Bishopthorpe Road in York:
Over the last six or seven years we have watched as the Terry’s site has been transformed. It is less than 100 years since this area was still in agricultural use, as it had been since medieval times or even earlier. Bishopthorpe Road is thought to follow the approximate course of a Roman road, running along the higher ridge of ground towards their settlement of Eboracum. Over the years there have been quite a few finds of Roman age along the line of the road, including a possible settlement in the area close to Terry’s.
The first transformation of the site took place in the late 1920s, when the Terry family decide to open a new, purpose-built confectionery factory. Terry’s had outgrown their premises in Clementhorpe, which you can read about in our industrial history of the area ‘Made in Clementhorpe’.
The new buildings emerged on the site from 1926 onwards, and by the 1970s they covered almost the entire site from Campleshon Road south. The earliest buildings formed an impressive group, all built in the same style and materials. Many of the later buildings were just large sheds, of no particular architectural merit, but vital to the efficient functioning of a modern manufacturing plant.
Terry's factory site in 1929, surrounded to the south and west by allotment gardens and the Racecourse (National Library of Scotland OS collection)
Click on this Historic England link to see what the Terry’s site looked like in 1926.
In 2005, Kraft Foods, then owners of the site, closed production down and moved it offshore. 300 jobs were lost, though at one time the plant employed almost two and a half thousand. There followed a long period of master planning.
Finally, the second major transformation of the site began. The best of the old buildings have been retained and re-purposed, and the Peace Garden has been kept as open space. The most famous building is the landmark clocktower, which still bears the Terry’s name, now converted into apartments (22 out of a total of 185 in the development). Other historic buildings house more apartments, small offices, a care home a dental suite and a café/deli. On the northern half of the site some 280 town houses and apartments have been built and occupied, and there is a Co-op local store.
Now the development is almost complete. The finishing touches are being made to the York Disabilities Trust’s acquired brain damage unit, at the far southern end of the site. The last piece of the jigsaw is the Terry’s car park on the eastern side of Bishopthorpe Road. The use of this site has still to be finalised.
The Chocolate Works is the largest development in our area for many years, and surely the last on this scale. Like it or loathe it, it is certainly worth a visit!