The Cadbury legacy - take a walk around historic Bournville

By Daniel Callicott | 06 July 2004

As the protracted take over of Cadbury by American confectionary conglomerate Kraft hits the headlines we pause to look at the heritage of the Birmingham chocolate manufacturer with this trail of historic Bournville.

shows a black and white facsimilie map of the Bourneville area.

The Bournville trail explores the history, buildings and people that made the area of Bournville © Selly Manor Museum and Bournville Village Trust

Richard and George Cadbury moved their growing chocolate manufacturing business from a cramped and polluted site in Birmingham in 1879 to a rural site called Bournbrook. Bournbrook was largely farmland, but it benefited from access to the canal and railway, fresh air and space to expand. Its name was changed from Bournbrook to Bournville as French chocolate was the most fashionable at the time.

Once the factory was finished, well hidden in a dip of land, the first houses were built for the key workers. As the factory established itself George Cadbury became more involved with social work, and saw the awful slums where many were forced to live in Birmingham. He decided to expand the housing and develop a village for all, not just for the factory workers.

In 1900 George Cadbury set up a trust to maintain and expand the small estate. By 1915 the heart of the village had been developed and the green established as a centre for community life, with the shops, school, school of arts and crafts, church hall and friends meeting house.

Bournville has grown over the years from a small community of 300 houses, to about 8000 homes on 1000 acres.

You can explore this fascinating area of Birmingham by following the Bournville Trail - developed in conjunction with Selly Manor Museum and the Bournville Village Trust.

shows a colour photograph of Selly Manor. It is a Tudor house with white walls and balck wooden exterior beams surrounded by a garden.

Selly Manor © Selly Manor Museum and Bournville Village Trust

Two of Birmingham’s oldest buildings were moved to Bournville in the early twentieth century. The Tudor manor house and medieval hall sit in beautiful period gardens. Selly Manor dates back to at least 1327 and was home to the local tax collectors. The building fell into disrepair towards the end of nineteenth century and was saved from demolition by George Cadbury who moved it here to Bournville.

Today Selly Manor houses a superb collection of furniture and artefacts and holds regular events and activities.

Minworth Greaves is a cruck-framed timber building moved in the 1930s and houses the museum’s shop; it is also a venue for civil wedding ceremonies.

shows a colour photograph of a row of shops on a quiet tree-lined street.

The Shops © Selly Manor Museum and Bournville Village Trust

The Shops remain at the heart of the Bournville. Designed by Bedford Tylor and built between 1905 and 1908, they show the influence of timber-framed buildings, like Selly Manor, on the design of the village.

When the shops were first opened they contained a pharmacy, butchers, bakers, Post Office and a grocery store. Modern day versions of these are still there.

shows a red brick Byzantine-style church.

The Church of St Francis of Assisi

The parish church, The Church of St Francis of Assisi, was built in a Byzantine style and designed by the architects Harvey & Wicks. The church hall was built in 1912 and the church was consecrated in 1925, the first Anglican Church to be built in the Diocese of Birmingham after the First World War. Inside there are polished granite columns on each side with richly carved capitals.

shows a colour photograph of a small medieval house surrounded by shrubbery and trees.

Minworth Greaves © Selly Manor Museum and Bournville Village Trust

Above the arts and crafts inspired Bournville Junior School is the domed Carillon, one of the main landmarks of Bournville Village. Carillons are a rare sight in this country and the one in Bournville is not only one of the largest but also one of only two working carillons in Britain, the other is in Loughborough.

shows a photograph of the carillon above Bournville Junior School. There is a red brick building with a bell tower on top. One corner of the building has ivy growing on it.

The Carillon

The Carillon houses a series of bells that are rung by the striking of a hammer on the outside of a bell. This is operated on a keyboard known as a clavier. George Cadbury was inspired to build a carillon after viewing one in Bruges, which dates back to 1675. The Bournville Carillon can be heard most weekends.

Ruskin Hall was the first public building in Bournville. Originally designed as a social centre for the village it was opened in 1903 with the aim of providing a school of arts and crafts for the community. Its purpose was to further the ideas and principles of John Ruskin, the eminent Victorian artist and cultural commentator.

shows a colour photograph of a brick building with a pathway leading to it. To the left of the building, which is rather like a small church, is a round tower with a tiled spire on top of it.

The Quaker Meeting House © Selly Manor Museum and Bournville Village Trust

The Quaker Meeting House was built in 1905 and enlarged in the 1920s and is unusually ornate. The Y-shaped building was designed by William Alexander Harvey, an influential architect on the Bournville estate and draws the worshipper in with its design.

A bust of George Cadbury can be seen from the exterior that overlooks Bournville and the village green. Underneath the bust are the ashes of George and his second wife Dame Elizabeth.

shows a small circular building set amidst parkland.

The Rest House © Selly Manor Museum and Bournville Village Trust

The Rest House was paid for by the employees of Cadbury Brothers Ltd to commemorate the Silver Wedding Anniversary of George and Elizabeth Cadbury on 19th June 1913. The design is taken from a medieval butter market in Dunster, Somerset.

Inside, an inscription reads: "This Rest House was erected to commemorate the Silver Wedding of Mr & Mrs George Cadbury by the employees of Cadbury Brothers Ltd at Bournville and in all parts of the world. A lasting memorial of esteem and affection as an expression of gratitude for the unceasing interest in their welfare and in admiration of manifold services to the world at large."

Today, the building houses the Carillon Visitor Centre and a gift shop and is used as the logo for Bournville Village Trust. Opening Times: Wed – Sat, 11.30am – 4.30pm.

shows a photograph of a red brick building. There is a lawned garden in front and two two trees frame the top of the picture.

The Day Continuation School

The Day Continuation School was opened in 1925 to continue the education of young Cadbury workers, something that had been important to the company since at least 1899.

In 1911 Cadbury’s made education compulsory for workers aged 14 to 18, male clerks attended until 19 and apprentices until they were 21. Classes included physical training and crafts as well as academic lessons in the sciences and English. By the 1930s several firms in the area sent their employees and almost 3000 students attended one day a week.

Today the building is part of the University of Central England.

All the locations can be enjoyed by the public in what is an oasis of order and calm on the outskirts of the the second city. You can follow this trail yourself by obtaining a map featuring all the locations at the Selly Manor Museum in Bournville.

This trail was developed and written by Selly Manor Museum and Bournville Village Trust.

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