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100 Years ago....

Philanthropic cocoa king, Cadbury, dies

Oct 25, 1922

George Cadbury, who made a fortune from chocolate and then used much of it for the benefit of the workforce, died yesterday at the age of 83. In 1861 when George joined the family firm there were 15 workers. Today there are 9000.

He moved the factory from Birmingham to to a greenfield site in Bournville. He donated a 250-acre site for a model village for his workforce and sold the houses to them at cost price on cheap loans. He was a deeply committed Quaker and taught a workers' class every Sunday. He campaigned for social reform through the Daily News which he bought in 1891.

Article from "Chronicle of the 20th Century" ISBN 1 872031 80 3

Coincidentally I have just reviewed "Bournville" by Jonathan Coe for Goodreading magazine, and it was a most enjoyable read.

In Bournville, a placid suburb of Birmingham, sits a famous chocolate factory. For eleven-year-old Mary and her family in 1945, it's the centre of the world. The reason their streets smell faintly of chocolate, the place where most of their friends and neighbours have worked for decades. Mary will go on to live through the Coronation and the World Cup final, royal weddings and royal funerals, Brexit and Covid-19. She'll have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Parts of the chocolate factory will be transformed into a theme park, as modern life and the city crowd in on their peaceful enclave.

As we travel through seventy-five years of social change, from James Bond to Princess Diana, and from wartime nostalgia to the World Wide Web, one pressing question starts to emerge: will these changing times bring Mary's family - and their country - closer together, or leave them more adrift and divided than ever before?

Bournville is a rich and poignant new novel from the bestselling, Costa award-winning author of Middle England. It is the story of a woman, of a nation's love affair with chocolate, of Britain itself.

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