Bournville is a small village located 3 miles south of Birmingham (UK) City Centre between the areas Selly Oak, Northfield, and Cotteridge. In 1878 the city factory owned by the brothers George and Richard Cadbury became too cramped for their ever-growing chocolate business. They purchased some land, which was in the countryside at the time, to build a factory. The location was ideal with canal and rail access (There are still regular trains to the city centre) and most importantly room to develop. With the ever-growing success of their business George Cadbury decided to build a village for the workers based around his Quaker beliefs. The idea was to create clean, healthy and affordable housing for the factory workers. In 1895 the first 143 cottages were built on 140 acres of land.

Bournville today
In many ways Cadbury tried to create a utopian working environment and in order to maintain this dream and in 1900 the Bournville village trust was founded. It still keeps to the original ideals laid down by George Cadbury. Bournville is now home to over 25,000 people, and one tenth of the land is used for parks and recreation. There are still no taverns in Bournville, and it is apparently local law that there should be no open bottle of alcohol on the streets of Bournville. For people who live in the area the downside (as long as you don’t consider the alcohol thing a downside) is that any house modifications or alterations are difficult as the village trust tries to keep the village looking traditional and consistent with the historical buildings in the area. Most of the buildings are built from red brick with slate roofs.

The Cadbury factory still lies at the heart of the village and produces the dark chocolate bar sharing its name with the area (If you’re ever near I suggest to take a walk down the canal towpath just to smell the chocolate as you go past the factory). The village green is still a focal point of village life with a historical rest house and many events are held on the green ranging from fireworks to a carol concert at Christmas. Bournville is also home to a fantastic Tudor house (Dating from the 14th century) called Selly manor which is now open as a museum to Tudor lifestyle, or if you wish it is possible to get married there. The Bournville Carillon is another prominent feature of the area and should be considered not so much as a bell tower, but as a musical instrument with a total of 48 bells (The largest being 3.25 tonnes) located roughly opposite the village green. In addition to this George Cadbury ensured that there were Churches, and schools for everyone living in this worker village.

I would advise that anyone who is in the area of Birmingham should take the time to at least go through Bournville once to see an example of some fantastic community planning, and experience the calmness of the area so close to a major city.


Each of the houses in Bournville were planted with six fruit trees. George Cadbury would visit personally every once in a while, to ensure that the gardens of his properties were being properly tended for.

Rather than a vision of sustainability, his primary goal was to ensure that his staff were kept busy during their 'leisure' time; thus keeping them away from the Gin and the bedroom.

The Bournville Village Trust have a specific colour that all the external woodwork on the houses must be painted in. The British Standard for it is BS 10 B 15.

William Morris and his merry band of pre-Raphaelites were one of the major influences on domestic architectural style of the time. Their interest in the medieval period was born of a desire to return to a time of perceived simplicity and moral righteousness. The fact that they were often busy bedding each other's wives didn't seem to prevent them from being both prolific and influential.

I would advise that anyone who is in the area of Birmingham should take the time to at least go through Bournville once to see an example of some fantastic social engineering, and experience an architectural vision that was to influence the aesthetic of City Council estates in Britain for years to come.

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