Rowntree Park has a river-side location to the south of the city centre. It was given to the people of York by Rowntree and Company at the close of the First World War as a memorial to all those members of the Company’s staff who lost their lives or suffered during the War. The wrought iron gates at the Terry Avenue entrance were given by the Company in 1954 as a Second World War memorial.
The Park was especially designed to be a public park as well as a recreation ground and was essentially York’s first municipal park. Since it was first laid out, many alterations have been carried out, but the Park survives still in much the same form as it was first conceived. Its facilities are widely used by York residents and visitors to the City alike and it is the setting from time to time for special events. The park is maintained by City of York Council, which has a web page dedicated to Rowntree Park.
The 10-hectare site combines a historical background with a high-quality, multi-functional recreational space. In 2003, a £1.8 million Heritage Lottery funded refurbishment of the park was completed with many historical features returned to their original condition. New features including a performance space and sculpture play trail were also added. The Friends have been working with council staff and volunteers to establish and enhance areas with wildlife potential.
Because of the low-lying nature of the land, when the Ouse floods, Rowntree Park fills up with water, and Park users have to wait for the Park to drain, partly by gravity (through one-way valves in the flood walls) and partly by pumps. The Friends aim to keep the public aware of this, as much as possible, via their Facebook page.