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Bournville: Building of a Housing Estate

George Cadbury's objectives for the building of the Estate were quite clearly set out. It was to comprise of decent quality homes, at prices within the reach of the industrial workers. In the particulars that were circulated to intending purchasers it was started that it was ".... intended to make it easy for working men to own houses with large gardens, secure from the dangers of being spoilt either by factories, or by the interference with the enjoyment of sun, light and air .....".

All the houses were to consist of light airy rooms and have good sanitation. A typical house would consist of a parlour, living room and kitchen downstairs, with three bedrooms upstairs. Although house design initially lacked a bathroom, later addition of this facility was a relatively easy process.

140 acres of land were purchased and 143 cottages were built in the first year. Cadbury employed an architect by the name of William Alexander Harvey to assist him in his mission, together with a surveyor.

Building was restricted on each plot so that gardens were not overshadowed and the whole area would maintain its rural aspect. None of the houses were to cost less than 50 to build and were sold at cost price on 999 year leases. The building of these cottages pioneered the Garden City Movement which Ebenezer Howard wrote about in his book 'Tomorrow, a Peaceful Path to real Reform' published in 1898.

In the years that followed more land was purchased and more homes were built. This time it was accommodation built specifically for rent, for those who could not, or did not wish to, buy their own homes.

Contrary to common belief, these are, and always have been, open to anyone wishing to live in Bournville and are in no way 'tied' to the chocolate factory, although many of the factory workers do still live in Bournville, but this is out of convenience and not because of any traditional requirement.

The Bournville Village Trust today continues to work to make it possible for people of modest means to live in this mixed community.

Related Links

Bournville: Beginnings