Bournville is undoubtedly one of Birmingham’s most pleasant suburbs – and, according to a recent BBC article, one of the nicest places to live in Britain.
George Cadbury’s dream when he created the suburban Birmingham village over a century ago was to provide high-quality homes and open spaces for ordinary people – in contrast to the cramped housing conditions of the inner city.
Fast forward 114 years and the model village, hailed as an exemplar for garden cities, is now being used as the inspiration behind Lightmoor Village in Telford – dubbed the ‘second Bournville’.
Lightmoor, which is being developed by Bournville Village Trust and the Homes and Communities Agency, will feature 1,000 new homes, with almost a quarter for social rent.
With the development nearing its half-way stage, the trust has opened up its archives to show how Bournville is inspiring the town planning and design of the new village:
An education in sustainability
Education was very important to George Cadbury and he would often, after working 10-hour shifts at his chocolate factory, travel into Birmingham to teach people living in the inner city how to read and write.
Cadbury and his wife Elizabeth were also the driving force behind the creation of both the Day Continuation School and Bournville Junior School, which cost £20,000 to build and was opened in 1906.
There were 12 classrooms at the school and a picture taken in 1924 shows some of the pupils taking exercise in the school’s large central hall.
While education may have changed, the importance placed on it by Cadbury, and its role in helping to create sustainable communities, lives on in the ‘second Bournville’ in Lightmoor.
Lightmoor Village Primary School, which opened in 2010, caters for 210 pupils and features seven class bases, social play areas, a multi-use games area and a school hall.
Homes that meet all needs
Creating a mixed community with housing for all has always been important to Bournville Village Trust, which George Cadbury founded in 1900.
Single professional women were often discriminated against when it came to housing and so in 1922, the trust built homes especially for single female workers.
The Quadrangle is another example of homes on the estate that meet the different needs of people in the community.
Made up of 33 bungalows built around a quadrangle, they were created specifically for retired Cadbury workers and feature beautiful gardens and an orchard, as seen in a picture from the early 1900s.
In Lightmoor, the ethos of building homes for all continues with Bournville House, a 59-apartment extra care scheme for older people. Featuring a bistro, hair salon, gym and craft room, Bournville House is a contemporary way to house and support older people and also has beautiful landscaped gardens.
Shops that established a community
George Cadbury knew that for Bournville to thrive and establish itself, it needed much more than just homes and his chocolate factory.
The timber-framed shops on Bournville Green, pictured in the 1930s, were designed by Bedford Tylor between 1905 and 1908, and epitomise the traditional image of the village.
Early businesses to take up premises at the shops included a Post Office, baker, butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger and tailor.
Opposite the shops on the Green was the Rest House, which still stands today. Built just before the First World War, the building was erected to mark the silver wedding anniversary of George Cadbury and Elizabeth and was paid for by workers.
Today, shops are just as important in establishing a new community and Lightmoor has a day nursery, coffee shop, doctors’ surgery and plans to open a convenience store soon.
Maintaining homes to high standards
Known for many years as Five Gates – after the farm where it was based – the trust’s maintenance department was responsible for making sure the homes on the Bournville estate were maintained to the highest order.
Pictured in 1912, are plumbers from the Five Gates depot. Typically, they would have been responsible for repairing simple leaks in pipe lead work, dressing lead around chimney stacks and fixing guttering and drainage problems.
Making sure that homes are fit for purpose and well maintained for tenants is still a top priority for the trust and in Lightmoor, its propertycare services team undertakes 360 jobs each year, employing 13 staff and two apprentices.
The fact that Bournville is characterised by attractive open spaces is no coincidence.
George Cadbury was passionate about providing areas for people to enjoy and therefore gardens, recreation grounds and parks were an essential ingredient in the development of the village.
Pictured in 1906 is Bournville Park. Popular with children, the park was commonly used by youngsters who liked to fish in the stream running through it and buy sweets from the small park keeper’s shop.
At the heart of Lightmoor Village is a park just as popular with children as Bournville Park was. Woodlands Park, which was opened in 2009, includes a large football field which provides a home to a number of local football teams.