In 1879, George and Richard Cadbury moved their cocoa and chocolate factory from Bridge Street in central Birmingham to a greenfield site beside Bournbrook Hall, four miles to the south. The location was chosen as it was regarded as cleaner, healthier and more amenable to longer-term expansion plans. Although rural, it was also already serviced by a railway station and canal.
The Cadburys named the area ‘Bournville’ after the Bourn Brook; with ‘ville’ being French for ‘town’, this set Bournville apart from the local area (some people wrongly believe Bournville was originally known as Bournbrook – Bournbrook exists to the north of Bournville). The Cadburys began to develop their factory in the new suburb. Loyal and hard-working workers were treated with great respect and relatively high wages and good working conditions; Cadbury also pioneered pension schemes, joint works committees and a full staff medical service. Indeed, the Cadburys were particularly concerned with the health of their workforce, incorporating garden areas into Bournville’s plans, and encouraging swimming, walking and all forms of outdoor sports.
Later, George Cadbury bought 120 acres (0.5 km²) of land close to the works and planned, at his own expense, a model village which would ‘alleviate the evils of modern more cramped living conditions’. These almost ‘Arts and Crafts‘ houses were traditional in design but with large gardens and modern interiors, and were designed by the resident architect William Alexander Harvey. These designs became a blueprint for many other model village estates around Britain. It is also noteworthy as, because George Cadbury was a Quaker, no public houses have ever been built in Bournville.
In 1900, the Bournville Village Trust was set up to formally control the development of the estate, independently of George Cadbury or the estate. The trust focused on providing schools, hospitals, museums, public baths and reading rooms. As Bournville is a conservation area, another job of the Bournville Village Trust is to accept or reject plans for building extension and modification.
An almost campus feel evolved, with a triangular village green, infant and junior schools, the School of Art and the Day Continuation School (originally intended for young Cadbury employees) and a host of events such as fetes and Maypole dances.
The trust continues to exercise an international influence on housing and town planning generally. Now containing 7,800 homes on 1,000 acres (4 km²) of land with 100 acres (0.4 km²) of parks and open spaces, Bournville remains a popular residential area of Birmingham.
Cadbury-Schweppes is still one of Birmingham’s main employers, making all manner of chocolate products.
The tour includes realistic themed environments, exhibiting the history of chocolate, the Cadbury company, chocolate making, and other topics. Along the tour, visitors pass through jungle and street environments all displaying information on the history of chocolate production. There are interesting theatre shows with moving and graphic elements, including a look inside the factory movie, with surprise shaking theatre seating. The main element of the tour consists of a walk around the factory along a designated path to see the processes of chocolate production.
The tour also has a tasting area where visitors can sample many chocolates made in front of them.
The advertising is explored with a chance to see the mock-up chocolate set used in the making of the Coronation Street TV commercials.
New to Cadbury is the "Cadabra" magical car ride, aimed at small children. This slow ride takes passengers around magical fictional scenes of "Beanville." After the ride you can purchase a photo of yourself on the ride and/or have the photo converted into mugs and keychains.
Visitors in addition can also visit the social museum, the Cadbury Collection, charting the ideas behind and history of Bournville with rare artifacts.