If you ever plan a visit to Birmingham, you just can’t afford to miss the chocolate village- Bournville. The area is home to the Cadbury factory and Cadbury World, a visitor attraction that witnesses 500,000 visitors a year.
The Cadbury Company was founded by chocolate barons and brothers, George Cadbury and Richard Cadbury, in the late 19th century. Bournville village was the model village built by the Cadbury Company to house the workers of the Cadbury factory. It is located in an area called Bournbrook, in England.
In 1837, Britain prospered under Queen Victoria’s reign. The population saw an upsurge, towns expanded and railways spread rapidly. A small section of people enjoyed a comfortable standard of life, but majority worked long hours and lived in dirty, crowded houses.
Later in 1879, George Cadbury, and his brother Richard, decided to move their successful chocolate manufacturing business from Birmingham’s back streets to open Warwickshire country side. Having witnessed the dreadful conditions in the slums of Birmingham, George wanted to create the world’s first planned and well equipped community. He wanted to provide good quality, low cost homes for their workers in a healthy and natural environment. Birmingham architect, George H. Gadd’s expertise was put to use.
‘Bournville factory in a garden’
The workers were in for a surprise when they arrived at the new factory site.
Keen sportsmen, Richard and George encouraged sports and recreations. Sports facilities included football, hockey and cricket pitches, tennis and squash racquet courts and a bowling green. Gradually women’s and men’s swimming pools were built and every young boy and girl joining the company was encouraged to become a good swimmer. A separate garden and playground for the girls was built.
Morning prayers and daily bible readings, first started in 1866, helped preserve the family atmosphere and continued for another 50 years, until the workforce grew too large for such an assembly. There was a kitchen where workers could heat up their meals, and properly heated dressing rooms were made where they could change.
For workers who still needed to travel to the new factory from their homes in Birmingham, the Cadbury brothers negotiated with the local railway company for a special workmen’s train fares to Bournville’s Stirchley Station.
Cadbury gradually became famous for the conditions and social benefits it was offering to its workforce.Bournville’s rural scenery and 19th century feel makes it one of the most aesthetically pleasing and relaxing places to visit in Birmingham.
Bournville’s history lives on throughout the area, from popular visitor attractions, to religious buildings, to monuments.
Bournville Rest house
It was built in celebration of George and Elizabeth Cadbury’s silver wedding anniversary and is now used as a visitor centre for the Carillon.
Anglican church of St Francis of Assisi
This red-brick Romanesque-style building was the first church to be built in Birmingham post WWI.
Selly Manor and Minworth Greaves
These are two magnificent cruck-framed medieval houses, which date back as far as the 1300s. The two buildings are perfect examples of Bournville’s famous Victorian architecture.
The Bournville Carillon
It is found at the main entrance of the Bournville School and is one of the greatest and largest in Great Britain. The tall square tower comprises of 48 bells and is owned by the Bournville Village trust.
Additional historical landmarks in Bournville include: the Quaker Meeting House, Bournbrook River, Bournville baths and Ruskin Hall.