Sunday, 23 June 2013

Cadbury World

Sunday 23rd June, 2013 at Bournville
We have been planning and anticipating a visit to Cadbury World in Bournville for months, and finally the day arrived! Hooray!
We were moored up opposite the factory.
All the chocolate raw materials used to come in by canal barge but then the railways arrived and took over. Since then, the railways have been replaced by fleets of trucks. Progress?
We had booked tickets in advance, but on checking them we found to our horror that, probably due to finger trouble, R had booked them for Sunday 30th instead of 23rd. Aaargh! Panic!
So at ten o'clock, R walked round to Cadbury World to see if he could change them. It turned out not to be a problem as they were not very busy. You normally have to enter at a set time but today visitors were being let in regardless of the time on their ticket.
Back at MM, M was heartily relieved we could go today after all and we set off to walk back together. You can no longer actually go round or into the factory due to "Elf & Safety", so Cadbury have built a huge exhibition centre; however, the entrance is right round the other side of the factory, so it was quite a walk to get there.
The original entrance to the factory is now the Staff Shop.
On the way, we passed a large building which, a notice declared, was where the dark Bournville chocolate was made. A large exhaust fan on the wall was giving out a delicious aroma - and we both stopped and sniffed the air like a pair of "Bisto Kids".
Before we went into the exhibition itself, we took refreshment in the large cafe at the entrance.
M also sampled the "Ladies" and found it to be excellent. Although it doesn't appear so in the photo below, the interior colour of the loos was actually the ubiquitous Cadbury purple!
The exhibition is very well done. It begins with the history of cocoa at the time of the Aztecs, then its introduction into Europe and the opening of John Cadbury's first shop in 1824 as a dealer in tea and cocoa next to his father's drapery shop in Bull Street, Birmingham.
Two presentations then showed how John Cadbury had experimented with adding sugar to cocoa and how in 1831, he opened a factory to manufacture a range of drinking chocolates.
At this point the tour took you past one of the packing areas. Unfortunately as it was a Sunday, it was having a "day off". After a short ride through a diorama for children that was reminiscent of Disney's "Small World", we arrived at the demonstration area.  Here the processes used to make chocolate bars and sweets were being demonstrated but thanks to that infuriating "Elf", it wasn't possible to sample what they were making.  Instead we were given tiny sample pots of molten chocolate. We did also get three sample bars each as we went round, so we are not complaining!  Well, not much!!!
Finally we ended up back at the main entrance hall, where there is a huge shop full of Cadbury's products. Needless to say, we did not leave empty handed.
Behind the main exhibition is a small museum that celebrates the history of Bournville. Cadbury moved to Bournville in 1879 and, as Quakers, they were anxious to look after their employees, having been horrified at the slum conditions in central Birmingham. Over time, they bought additional land and built a complete village for their workers. Each house had six fruit trees planted in the back garden which were tended by the company for the first three years. Women workers were taught to swim in company time, sports facilities were built for both men and women. If you were under 18, you had to attend the company school one day a week for further education.  We saw a copy of a letter written by one young employee who said that when he went back into central Birmingham to visit relatives, he couldn't believe the squalor in which they lived compared to his life in Bournville.
After another visit to the cafe, we went outside to see the village itself and we also visited Selly Manor, which is a Tudor house full of contemporary objects. In each room there was a notice indicating all the sayings that originated from that time including: "Chairman of the Board", "On the Dole", "Cold Shoulder", "Upper Crust" etc.
We spent the whole day in and around Bournville and it was a joy.  As we left the site, M declared that she is so proud of the Cadbury story that henceforth she's resolved to eat only Cadbury's chocolate.  R replied that he will eat only chocolate!!!!!
Today: We didn't move MM. (we were too full of chocolate!)

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