Under Queen Victoria whose reign began in 1837, Britain became the richest country in the world – with a powerful empire covering a quarter of the globe.
The population increased, towns grew bigger and railways spread rapidly. Many people enjoyed a good standard of life, but most worked long hours and lived in dirty, crowded houses.
In 1879 George Cadbury, and his brother Richard, made the decision to move their successful chocolate manufacturing business from Birmingham’s back streets to a fourteen and a half-acre site in open Warwickshire countryside.
As the factory flourished, it gave the brothers the finance to realise some of their social objectives. In George’s case, having witnessed the dreadful conditions in the slums of Birmingham, it was the creation of the world’s first planned and balanced community.
At Bournville, in 1895, he began building good quality housing in a natural, green environment. His vision: to provide the local community with quality homes in ‘surroundings of light, fresh air and space’.
In 1900 George Cadbury founded Bournville Village Trust, a charitable organisation set up to ensure the planned development and maintenance of the Estate and to preserve it for future generations.
The founding of the Trust signalled a change from merely a building estate into a complete village community. Shops, places of worship, open spaces, sports facilities, community buildings and schools were included to form the hub of a new model village: everything a community might want, apart from a pub.
The idea was to create a traditional English country village, with its communal buildings grouped around a village green. The green is part of the Bournville Village Conservation Area, which was originally designated in 1971 and is now internationally recognised.