Under Queen Victoria’s reign, industry grew, 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 crowded houses with no gardens, indoor toilet or running water.
In 1879 George Cadbury, and his brother Richard, decided to move their chocolate manufacturing business from inner city Birmingham to a fourteen and a half-acre site in open Warwickshire countryside, about 3 miles from the city.
The factory did well, and gave the brothers the finance to put into action some of their social objectives. The brothers had seen first hand the dreadful conditions in the slums of Birmingham when they had been teaching men to read and write in one of their evening classes.
In 1895, George Cadbury began building good quality housing on land adjacent to the factory. His vision was 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 development and maintenance of the Estate was well considered and planned and to preserve it for future generations.
The founding of the Trust made the change from a building estate into the development of a village community. Shops, places of worship, open spaces, sports facilities, community buildings and schools were included to form a new model village.
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.