Archives for category: History

People passing the illuminated Bournville factory buildings late at night will have noted its 24-hour operation – evidence of a thriving enterprise.

The factory buildings in 1932: unchanged exterior

The FT’s John Murray Brown (paywall) reports from Bournville that Mondelez has completed a two-year modernisation programme, investing £75m in the chocolate maker’s flagship factory: “Shiny new production equipment has been installed at the “factory in a garden” built by Quaker George Cadbury in 1879 alongside houses for its workers who had relocated from Birmingham’s industrial belt.

Under the agreement, 1,300 workers at Bournville and two other Cadbury factories in the UK will receive a pay rise of 3.2% in 2017-18, and an increase in line with inflation in 2018-19. Joe Clarke of Unite says this is considerably higher than other recent settlements in the food and drinks industry, which have been about 2.4%.

Mr Clarke highlighted the chocolate maker’s “strong ethical traditions: “Cadbury has a long history of good industrial relations. We’ve got records which go back to the tea break agreement of 1922.” Cadbury established works councils, with management and employee representative meeting to discuss company plans, back in the 1930s. It was also one of the first companies to offer sick pay and pension rights for women.

The improvement in industrial relations at Cadbury came after controversy when the company was bought by Kraft Foods of the US in 2010. The Takeover Panel, the custodian of UK rules on mergers and acquisitions, after reneging on a promise not to shut Cadbury’s Somerdale plant at Keynsham near Bristol but it was made clear that the original decision had been made by Cadbury in 2007.

There have been 200 voluntary redundancies at Bournville under the modernisation programme, bringing the manufacturing workforce down to about 800. The four new production lines have led to ‘dramatic’ productivity improvements closing the gap with Mondelez’ German plant. In an embedded video, David Bailey, professor of industrial strategy at Aston University business school, said, “We hadn’t seen significant investment at Bournville for a long time. It was pretty dilapidated. Old plant and equipment. The focus on productivity is the only way any company manufacturing in a relatively high-cost economy can survive in the long run”.

The changes at Bournville mean manufacturing is assured “for a generation not just for the short term”, according to Glenn Caton, president of Mondelez’s northern Europe operations.  

 

 

 

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Birmingham and West Midlands Group

HOUSING FOR ALL CLASSES OF SOCIETY IN THE VICTORIAN MIDLANDS

A day school at the Birmingham & Midlands Institute, Margaret St, Birmingham B3 3BU 

Saturday 18th November 10.15 am-4.15 pm, registration from 9.45                                 

Speakers will not only focus on architectural design but more importantly on who lived in the Victorian buildings and the motivation of those who built them.

The day will start with a presentation by Jo-Ann Curtis, History Curator for Birmingham Museums Trust, on the clearance of 19th century working class housing in Birmingham as part of Joseph Chamberlain’s Improvement Scheme through the photographs of James Burgoyne.

Michael Harrison, lecturer and writer on Bournville, will outline the philosophy of the Cadbury brothers in building the Bournville estate.  Living conditions there will be compared with those in the back-to-back dwellings.

Barbara Nomikos from the Moor Pool Heritage Trust will look at the later Moor Pool Estate and J.S. Nettlefold’s motivation in setting it up as a co-operative partnership tenant society.

Finally Janet Lillywhite will contrast the earlier housing with the middle class area of Anchorage Road, just to the north of the Sutton Coldfield town centre, which is an example of speculative development of ‘villa residences’ built between 1870 and 1914.

The cost of £35 will include tea/ coffee and a buffet lunch, also with tea/coffee. Queries/bookings to Helene Pursey on 0121 449 5186 or brumvictorian@gmail.com

Please return the booking form to her BEFORE Saturday 11th November at 54 Prospect Rd Moseley Birmingham B13 9TD.

 

 

 

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Thursday 14th September, 5.30 for 6pm start.

UNISON Regional Office, 24 Livery Street, B32PA (next to the Old Contemptibles and opposite Snow Hill Station)

Lucy Seymour-Smith writes:

In times of austerity, services, organisations and communities are being starved of the funds needed to survive and grow.

We cannot regenerate or communities by relying on large organisations who can, and do relocate according to their own financially driven agenda.

Instead we need a new approach to regeneration framed around co-operative values of self-help, participation, social responsibility and democratic accountability that is led by organisations that have a genuine long-term stake in our communities.

In celebration of the Co-op Party centenary this event is an absolute must for all those interested in transforming the West Midlands region by reorganising local economies and supporting communities to help themselves.

First outing at the 2017 Durham Miners’ Gala

Panel speakers include:

Liam Byrne MP

Claire Campbell, UNISON Head of Local Government

Anna Birley, Coop party policy officer and Labour/Coop Party Cabinet Member in Lambeth

 *Spaces limited so sign up quickly*

nibbles and networking

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-can-west-midlands-councils-build-community-wealth-tickets-37093770466

 

 

 

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Steve Beauchampé recalls the Cadbury Barn, a little known but once much-loved Birmingham building destroyed by fire last week.

There is some ambiguity surrounding the origins of the Cadbury Barn, burnt down in a suspected arson attack last week. Whilst the Birmingham Conservation Trust website states that it was erected in 1894 in the grounds of George Cadbury’s home at Northfield Manor House, set in Manor (formerly New House) Farm, the Bournville Works Magazine suggests otherwise (as does an 1893 Ordnance Survey map), indicating that the Barn, the work of company architect Alexander Harvey, was originally sited in Laurel Grove, where it was known as the Girls’ Gymnasium, and was relocated and re-assembled at Manor Farm in 1903 (a not uncommon practice, stands at both St Andrews and The Hawthorns were similarly relocated from their respective clubs’ earlier grounds around this time).

A wooden structure with a metal framework held in places by chains, and seating up to 700, the Barn became the focus of regular summer parties for Cadbury employees, their families and perhaps most famously poor children from throughout Birmingham and the Black Country. Speaking of these often joyous gatherings George Cadbury remarked: There could never be too many and they could never be too noisy. Children – up to fifty at a time – would be invited to swim in the nearby fish pond, girls before tea, boys after. The Barn was also used by Sunday School groups, the Mothers Union and members of Men’s and Women’s Adult Schools, as well as Scout Jamborees and Brownie Revels, with as many as 25,000 people using the facility each year. During the Second World War the Friends Ambulance Unit used the Barn as a training camp.

The Barn’s unusual rusticated timber detailing was a style seemingly specific to Cadbury’s with similar decoration also found on an original exposed section of the Cadbury Club (formerly the Girl’s Pavilion) on Bournville Lane. Its floor was tiled in red and grey terracotta with a single entrance at the rear (facing the main road) and a wider entrance and wide windows overlooking the park.

Following the death in 1951 of George’s wife, Dame Elizabeth Cadbury, the family donated Manor Farm and its buildings to the city of Birmingham with the Barn continuing to be used by park visitors and other groups.

In recent years the Barn had served as a storage facility for the Parks Department but had become semi-derelict and partially boarded up.

In 2014 Birmingham Conservation Trust, in conjunction with Bournville Village Trust and the Friends of Manor Farm Park, began drawing up plans for a restoration of the Barn as part of plans for a multi-use community space including a cafe and involving several adjacent buildings. Sadly, following the fire which destroyed the Barn on the night of July 31st, should those plans come to fruition, it will not be part of them. 

The BirminghamPress.com

Steve Beauchampé

August 7th 2017

 

 

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Learn more about renowned botanist world traveller Ernest Wilson, trained at Edgbaston Botanical Gardens, next Monday evening, at 7.30.pm at Earlswood Village Hall, Valley Rd, Earlswood, Solihull B94 6BZ

Ann Turner will give a lively account of her extensive research into the life of plant collector Ernest Wilson, who lived in Shirley and was educated at Birmingham Municipal Technical School (now Aston University).

Her search began when she wondered Dove Tree Court retirement apartments in Shirley got its name.  Ernest Wilson who was sent to China to track down the rare Dove Tree, sometimes known as the Handkerchief Tree (below).

It took two years for Wilson to find one, and that was hanging over a cliff edge. When he was returning to England, with his specimens his boat was wrecked, but he managed to save this precious plant.

Finding that no-one she knew locally had heard of this remarkable man, she and her husband Malcolm embarked on a ‘wonderful journey’, completed only a couple of weeks ago after travelling to London and finding the house where Ernest Wilson lived with his family, while he was working at Kew Gardens.

A wide range of contacts made included contacts with the Arnold Arboretum in Boston USA (where all his records are kept), and Mount Royal cemetery, Montreal Canada (where he and his wife are buried).

 

 

 

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As the council has been planning the development of the wholesale markets and Birmingham Smithfield, it is alleged that the indoor, outdoor and rag markets are no longer properly promoted, local roads have been closed, buses have been re-routed with drop-off points moved away from the markets, and so the traders have seen a marked reduction in their footfall and income.

Duncan Tift reports, in Business Desk, that stall-holders from Birmingham’s Bull Ring outdoor market (see history here) have filed a suit against the city council. Around 30 tenant traders have been in dispute with their local authority landlord since 2010, when their previous leases expired, and they claim all requests for new leases have since been ignored. Because the council won’t give them new leases they cannot sell their businesses, relocate or retire.

The 13 stall-holders involved are being advised on a pro-bono basis by Jonathan Owen, the founder and joint managing director of Quarterbridge Project Management, who will also act as an expert witness (see our reference in a 2011 markets blog). He knows the market, its traders and city centre well, having advised the Birmingham Alliance which delivered the £530m Bull Ring redevelopment. Mr Owen said the stall-holders, many of whom had been trading at the market for most of their working lives, had been shabbily treated by the council.

Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate, Beverley Nielsen, visited the market and said afterwards: “I’d seen so much about the wholesale markets being relocated to The Hub, in Witton and wondered what was happening to the traders still using stalls around the Bullring. I was dismayed to discover they’d been in dispute with the council for years.”

Ms Nielsen’s proposal: ”The local authority should be using the market’s heritage to attract visitors to the city and use the facility as a tourist attraction in the same way as European cities such as Barcelona, Rotterdam (Ed: above) and Valencia”.

 

 

 

””””””””””””””””””””””””

 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ann-pettifor-talks-on-a-moral-economy-tickets-33229654792 or contact johnbnightingale@hushmail.com/07811 128831

Many people in Birmingham will remember the speaker -Ann Pettifor. She was a founder and leading spirit of the Jubilee 2000 debt campaign which in 1998 brought a human chain of 70,000 people onto the streets of this city in a great expression of human concern for the cancellation of the unjust and unpayable debts of developing countries.

After 2000 Ann joined the New Economics Foundation where she headed their research unit, and became involved in Prime Economics. She also set up Advocacy International, a UK-based consultancy which advises governments and international organisations and has helped secure debt relief for the governments of Guyana, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Among her publications are the books “The Coming First World Debt Crisis” (2006) and “The Production of Money” this year. She has been part of the Green New Deal Group and in 2015 was appointed to the British Labour Party’s Economic Advisory Committee.

 

 

 

 

A link was sent today by a Bournville reader and followed by Cllr John Clancy’s message: “I know we have to do more to deliver the houses our citizens desperately need and deserve. This is an absolute priority for me and the cabinet. We are already building at a scale unheard of for decades and delivering the housing this city needs.

wake-green-prefabsValued homes: Grade 2 listed Phoenix prefabs in Wake Green Road, Moseley

The reader’s link led to an article by Reuter’s  Astrid Zweynert. After a brief account of post-war prefab building, she writes: “Faced with a chronic, new housing shortage, Britain is once more embracing prefabrication as it struggles to meet its promise to build a million homes in England by 2020. In a major policy announcement last month, the government said it supported off-site construction, promised financial support for prefabs and to make public land available for “modular schemes”, as they are known now”.

An online search will reveal many expensive and stylish prefabricated houses and fewer low cost models – but such options do exist. Building Design highlighted three prefabricated solutions to the housing crisis in 2016.

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The first design (above), by Urban Splash, was one of the new range of low-cost prefabricated housing solutions being ‘rolled out’ across the country with the potential to help tackle Britain’s affordable housing crisis.

 

 

 

gavin-2-stamp“To give so much to a grand country house (Wentworth Woodhouse) and nothing to Moseley Road Baths (or other neglected listed buildings) suggests a snobbery about “heritage”. Municipal baths are as important a part of our history – social and architectural – as aristocratic seats”.

So wrote architectural historian.Gavin Stamp (right) this week.

He asks if Birmingham City Council is happy to contemplate the loss of the fine and well-used swimming pool at Moseley Road Baths (below) – one of only three swimming pool structures still in operation listed at Grade II* and well-supported by an active and enterprising ‘Friends’ association.

Country: United Kingdom Site: Moseley Road Baths Caption: Second Class Pool Image Date: April 20, 2007 Photographer: Vivienne Harrison/World Monuments Fund Provenance: 2016 Watch Nomination Original: from Watch team

Professor Stamp points out that Birmingham city council had for years ’run, neglected and threatened to shul the complex’. Moreover, in 2012 the Heritage Lottery Fund offered £5m towards its restoration, but the council to refused to contribute the matching £3m – which Stamp finds ‘particularly reprehensible’’.

Our readers from further afield (yesterday coming from UK, USA, Mexico, Germany, Azerbaijan, India and Ireland) may read more about this in the Birmingham Post.

Stamp describes the Baths as one of the finest Edwardian bath buildings anywhere, with two fine swimming pools covered by arched iron and glass ceilings and two ‘unique survivals’, an intact set of private washing baths and a set of steam-heated drying racks.

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The first class men’s pool above – considered by Simon Inglis, historian of swimming pools, as “the mosl dramatic Edwardian pool hall in Britain” – closed in 2003 but survives intact.

Stamp concedes that historic baths are expensive to run and maintain, but can be restored to stay in use, as the pools in Camberwell and Kentish Town demonstrate.

In the words of the World Monuments Fund, if Moseley Road Baths were restored, it “would continue to serve a diverse urban community in the 21st century and would join other destinations in Birmingham that proudly recount the social history of the city.”

Main source: Gavin Stamp as ‘Piloti’ in Issue 1436, Private Eye.

 

 

 

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After meeting a pleasing new neighbour and walking to Stirchley Street station – renamed Bournville (why?) – I travelled by train to New Street, now Grand Central (why?) and got on the Metro to Colmore Row. The usual blissfully silent glide became an endurance test as a cacophony of loud squeals and grating noises accompanied the journey. The conductor said it needed oiling (!)

grand-hotel-front-slanting

Walking along Colmore Row I was perturbed to see that what had been the restored, award-winning Grand Hotel (see June 2016 post) was apparently now a café called Gusto . . . and further down a large site was being demolished by Considerate Constructors  – what had been there before?

A far more cheering sight was the Java Lounge (see a November 2015 post) which now has a golden sign unobtrusively erected, replacing the Hudson name.

jake-coffee-house

Further down in Chamberlain Passage, it was cheering to see that Jake (see an October 2015 post)  has survived and prospered to some extent. He now has a well-furnished canopy at the left of the kiosk and tells me that – as hoped – the German Market had been very good for business.

On to one of the city’s gems (below) and a good, inexpensive lunch in the members’ room.

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Birmingham and Midland Institute

There were changes: The Birmingham College now occupies the premises used for many years by a firm of architects and a host of students were to be seen, including Mariam from the Gulf, improving her English before going on to business studies. Most of the top floor, formerly occupied by Central England Co-operative, has been used by the Conservatoire whilst their new premises were being built. Noting that the ‘topping out’ ceremony has been performed, it was expected and regretted that they would leave, as planned, some time in 2017.

A couple of well-informed folk at the BMI told me that the demolition site had formerly housed the NatWest building and that the Grand Hotel was indeed still to be an hotel, reduced in size, with the entrance in Church Street. I walked back and found that door but it was still being renovated and the six workers standing by the entrance greeted me cheerfully, “Hello Bab”. I walked down the side and saw the storeroom and many other intriguing rooms, noting signs of ongoing work by Hortons Estates.

great_western_arcade-birmingham

Then on to the Great Western Arcade, a restored Grade II listed Victorian  shopping arcade with a remarkable clock (see this and many others in the city here).

beadleThere I met the security guard and told him about the beadle who used to promenade there, ringing a bell, reminiscent of a town crier.

Less colourful than the beadle, but equally polite and informative, the guard – who came from London to work there three years ago – told me about his routine supervision duties, in between halting and redirecting a cyclist and asking a man to stop smoking whilst passing through.

On the return by Metro again there was another distressing cacophony of loud squeals and grating noises and I heard from a passenger – who was to get off at Kings Norton station – that it is located in Cotteridge (Why? Even William Dargue does not explain?).

 

A golden day