6 August 2008
When we think of Cadbury.We think chocolate and even Ronald Dahl but do you ever consider that Cadbury was a pioneer in affordable green housing.
Here is some info on Cadbury.
Established by Richard and George Cadbury, two Victorian businessmen with great industrial and social vision, Bournville Village is a story of industrial organisation and community planning covering well over a century. It embraces the building of a factory in a pleasant 'green' environment (in stark contrast to the oppressive conditions of the Victorian industrial scene), the enhancement of employees' working conditions and overall quality of life and the creation of a village community with a balanced residential mix (both employees and non-employees).
George Cadbury was a housing reformer interested in improving the living conditions of working people in addition to advancing working practices. Having built some houses for key workers when the Bournville factory was built, in 1895 he bought 120 acres near the works and began to build houses in line with the ideals of the embryonic Garden City movement.
Motivation for building the Bournville Village was two-fold. George Cadbury wanted to provide affordable housing in pleasant surroundings for wage earners. But as the Bournville factory grew, local land increased in value and was ready to fall into the hands of developers. The last thing the brothers wanted was that their 'factory in a garden' would be hemmed in by monotonous streets.
Dame Elizabeth Cadbury was involved in the planning of Bournville with her husband, George. Her memoirs tell us how these plans became reality:
"When I first came to Birmingham and we were living at Woodbrooke, morning after morning I would walk across the fields and farmland between our home and the Works planning how a village could be developed, where the roads should run and the type of cottages and buildings.
Gradually this dream became reality, houses arose and many of the first tenants being men in Mr Cadbury's Adult School Class - which met every Sunday morning at 8.00am in Bristol Street - who had previously lived in the centre of the city and had never had a garden. Also workers in the factory became tenants.
They too enjoyed their homes in the healthy surroundings, cultivating their gardens, rewarded in many instances by splendid crops of apples from the belt of apple trees which each tenant found at the bottom of his garden."
In 1897 Richard Cadbury built the Bournville Almshouses, an attractive quadrangle of cottage-like homes around a central garden, on the southern edge of the village, on the corner of Linden and Mary Vale Roads. Built mainly, but not exclusively for pensioners of Cadbury Brothers, this group of almshouses still exists today. The Bournville Almshouses Trust was established to administer them, endowed by rents from 35 houses built at the same time.
By 1900, the estate included 330 acres of land with 313 cottages. Although plans had been set out for 'schools, baths and an institute', none had yet been built.
The City of Birmingham had not yet pushed its boundaries beyond Edgbaston, four miles away, to the north of Bournville; Selly Oak was developing fast; and to the east and south Stirchley and King's Norton were spreading.
George Cadbury therefore decided to turn his Bournville Building Estate into a Charitable Trust: 'The Bournville Village Trust'. He decided to preserve his works for future generations and protect the rural aspect of the village from speculators, handing over the land and houses to the Bournville Village Trust with the proviso that revenue should be devoted to the extension of the estate and the promotion of housing reform.
The Trust has always been entirely separate from the Cadbury business, although members of the Cadbury family continue to act as Trustees, closely involved with its work at the forefront of improving housing conditions in the UK, which still continues today.
The Bournville Trust has completed one of the first eco conversions in the UK and leads the way as it did many years ago.