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Bournville Village Trust Archive

Bournville Village Trust Archive


In 1879 George and Richard Cadbury, makers of chocolate and cocoa moved their factory from the city centre to the healthier environment of the countryside.
They chose the Bournbrook Estate, four miles from the city with fresher air quality. Transport links were good and a source of clean water from the nearby River Bourn was available.

They completed the move in September 1879 and named it Bournville. They adopted a French sounding name as France had a good reputation for food, in the hope that their chocolate sales would improve. George Cadbury was appalled at working class living conditions and wanted to provide decent housing for his workers. He planned a model village of well-built cottages with large gardens. The village would also have spaces for recreation and leisure.

The Estate

While the factory was being built, 16 decent sized cottages were constructed for key workers. In 1895 more land was purchased, architect Alexander Harvey was employed and the following year construction was started. This land was called Bournville Building Estate and publicity from the time told of its virtues. Rules were made, each house was to occupy no more than a quarter of its building plot and each garden was "not less than one-sixth of an acre" with at least six fruit trees. Cadbury hoped that workers would grow their own fruit and vegetables in these gardens.

Expansion of the area

The Bournville Village Trust came into being in December 1900 and its purpose was to oversee development of the model village for the benefit of the residents.

By 1905 315 houses were built. In 1906 a Workers' Housing Co-Operative called Bournville Tenants Limited leased building land and added another 398 houses. In 1913 a model garden suburb for white-collar workers was added. The 1920s and 1930s saw rapid expansion of the land by various co-operatives and societies and private arrangements.

In 1930 homes called "Sunshine Homes" were built. These were sited to catch the maximum amount of sunlight.
From 1950-1962 The Trust and the City Housing Department planned a new development with shops and churches. This became part of Shenley Fields.

By the 1960s and 1970s further development saw many special-needs schemes taking place. Houses were built specifically for the elderly and the blind.


The development of community has also been important to the Trustees' work. The growth of local Residents Associations and Village Councils were encouraged.

Bournville Village Council was set up in 1902. In 1923 Weoley Hill Village Council was formed to cover the north side of the Estate. In the 1960s Shenley Court and Shenley Manor Residents Association emerged. A Tenants Association was formed to have access to the Trustees.

Over the years the Trust has participated in research studies and published many works on Bournville's development.

More about Bournville on Wikipedia