Archives for posts with tag: Bournville

Bournville Village Trust has agreed to acquire and manage some of the 138 homes at the Manor House site, which is being developed by Crest Nicholson. Work on the site will also include plans to rebuild Northfield Manor House, off Bristol Road South, which was demolished after being severely damaged in an arson attack three years ago.

Northfield Manor House was the residence of the Trust’s founder George, and his wife Elizabeth, until her death in 1951. In 1953 it became a hall of residence for the university, but has been empty since 2007 as the University decided it was too expensive to upgrade.

It is not legally listed with English Heritage, but has an informal grade A status on Birmingham City Council’s local advisory list of historic buildings. The English Heritage website (no general access) records that a farm house, part of the Manor of Northfield belonging to the Jervoise family, was recorded as being on the site circa 1750. In 1809 the estate was purchased by Daniel Ledsam, a London merchant. It is believed that he made alterations to the house and was responsible for the current main building.

This picture came from coverage on this site in 2014.

Local historian Dr Carl Chinn urged the university to stop the demolition of the fire-damaged building and consult local people through community groups and their elected representatives over the future of this building. He advocated restoration of the building, in partnership with the community.

The University’s vice-principal, Professor Adam Tickell, said that the planning application had been revived and now included provision for the rebuilding of the manor house, despite the demolition of most of the structure.

The Manor House is to be rebuilt in the original style with Georgian and Arts & Crafts facades and the decorative details of the exterior of the building in stone and brickwork, render and timber. The form and proportions of the 18th century manor will be retained but the interior will be divided into apartments.







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.  





Birmingham and West Midlands Group


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

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






This upbeat article was omitted from the depressing daily e-alerts sent to the Murdoch-owned paper’s online subscribers, but – thanks to David Bailey’s retweeting – it will now reach others, including readers of the Brummie.

Bournville, one of the smallest parks

Jonathan Leake and Rhal Ssan report that, according to Ordnance Survey (OS), it is one of Britain’s greenest cities. The OS studied all publicly accessible green spaces, ranging from municipal golf courses, allotments and parks to the smallest playgrounds and found that green spaces cover 15.6% of the city, including 93 parks, 242 play areas and 18 golf courses.

Cannon Hill Park in Edgbaston

Birmingham (“Glum Brum? No”) has had a reputation since the industrial revolution of being a dour centre of manufacturing. Not any more.

The OS (“normally among the least political of government agencies”) has released not only the maps but also the underlying geospatial data, showing the number, types and total area of green spaces by local authority, constituency or even around a planned housing development.

Matt Thomson, head of planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: “This data will be especially valuable to communities preparing neighbourhood plans, helping define areas needing protection or where green space is lacking.”

The paper stressed that OS data would be valuable to other campaigners, quoting Jane Edwards, a local campaigner (Schools Liaison Officer, Trees for Life?), as saying that green spaces in the city were threatened by dereliction due to lack of maintenance.








cadbury-2-birmingham-genericEarly in December, mainstream media reported that chocolate-maker Cadbury was proposing to change the way it works with Fairtrade – embarking on ‘a new global partnership’ between its Cocoa Life programme and Fairtrade that will support the rollout of Cocoa Life to Cadbury brands and others, including Suchard and Toblerone.

The partnership between Cadbury and Fairtrade has enabled the establishment of strong farmer organisations, provided training and support for farming communities and offered benefits such as loan schemes and agricultural tools. Some concern has now been expressed about Cadbury-Mondelez’s decision to move the Fairtrade mark to the back of Cadbury products and place the Cocoa Life label on the front.

Cocoa Life was created in 2012 by Mondelez to source all of its cocoa supply sustainably by working with communities who are setting their own ‘most value’ action plans. It is expected to secure a positive future for 200,000 farmers and 1 million community members in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, India and Brazil by 2022. In the UK, five times as much Cadbury chocolate will now be made from sustainably sourced cocoa.

Today, Business Desk reports that Cadbury’s owner has agreed to sell most of its grocery business in Australia and New Zealand. The firm announced that the move will enable Mondelēz to make further investment in brands, including Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate. It added that, starting in the UK and Ireland in May 2017 with a phased roll-out, Cocoa Life will be extended across Cadbury chocolate brands in key markets across the world.

An unmitigated disaster?

MSM reported the words of Paul Birch, secretary of Fairtrade Association Birmingham and chief executive of coffee co-op Revolver which carries the Fairtrade mark, who said: “This is in my view an unmitigated disaster. Cadbury were a shining light, a jewel in the crown, and they have abandoned their principles and abandoned the thousands of supporters of Fairtrade around the country.”

divine_ebenezer_withcocoapods-2One of Divine Chocolate’s farmers and his cocoa pods: from James Ramsden’s website

The Co-operative News  whilst acknowledging the ‘controversial’ nature of the decision, gave a more balanced account.

It reported that Divine Chocolate, another co-op that carries the Fairtrade mark, is worried that consumers will be unable to assess and compare the benefits to farmers being offered by the different chocolate brands if more companies follow suit. “It is however good to know that, through Cocoa Life, Mondelez is continuing to invest in working with farmers in Ghana. We hope that the continued association with Fairtrade means that they will continue to support smallholder farmers to build their organisations.”

Co-operatives UK’s secretary general Ed Mayo, who was involved in the launch of the Fairtrade mark before he joined the co-op, writing in a personal capacity, said: “The test of the Cadbury announcement will be whether cocoa farmers and their co-operatives are better off or worse off as a result of the decision”.

Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “The evolution of our partnership with Cadbury and Cocoa Life is an exciting development as it embeds Fairtrade, our values, principles and unique relationships with farmer networks, into the whole programme. In doing so, together we can increase the scale and impact of Cocoa Life, towards a common goal – one in which cocoa farmers, their organisations and communities are empowered, can invest in their own future, and go from just surviving, to thriving.”


Many in Birmingham will remember the sterling work of John Boyle (above) in collaborating with a wide range of organisations, outlets and companies, to achieve the Fairtrade City Mark and welcoming Cadbury’s adoption of the mark in 2012.

In these uncertain times it is good to see a company able to work round the clock and many people in Bournville will warm to the words of Glenn Caton, President, Northern Europe at Mondelēz International:

“Cocoa Life builds from Cadbury’s proud heritage of sourcing cocoa sustainably, which dates back to a hundred years ago, when the Cadbury family helped establish cocoa farming in Ghana.”




Professor Leslie Jesch set up a solar energy laboratory at Birmingham University which attracted PhD students from all over the world

Leslie Jesch

Ed: revisiting the ‘Solar Pioneers of Bournville’ page, in order to insert information received from a local resident, I noticed a rise in the numbers of viewers in August and that the Guardian search engine accounted for many of these. The link led to an obituary for Professor Jesch, who had made such a contribution to the pioneering work of the Bournville Village Trust. So many had asked whether he was still with us and I could only say that no record of his death had been found. To avoid breaching copyright only a few paragraphs about his time in Birmingham are reproduced or summarised on this website, but the article may be read in full here:

Judith Jesch: Tuesday 2 August 2016 

After an MSc from the University of Pennsylvania (1962), Leslie did a PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Leeds (1970), which brought about a change of both career and country when he took up a lectureship in mechanical engineering at the University of Birmingham.

At Birmingham, Leslie developed his expertise in solar energy and set up a solar energy laboratory, which thrived and attracted PhD students from all over the world. Realising its potential, Leslie became active in the International Solar Energy Society, becoming its vice-president and receiving a special service award from the UK branch in 1999.

He stimulated many European collaborations through ISES-Europe, of which he became president. He set up the Franklin Company, which provided consultancy in solar energy systems, and edited and published several solar journals, notably Sun at Work in Europe, giving work and a launch pad to many of his students. Leslie also wrote a monograph (Solar Energy Today, 1981) and a range of technical papers.

In Birmingham, my parents lived in Rowheath Solar Village in Bournville, which he had helped to design. In retirement, they pursued their lifelong interests in theatre, concerts and travelling, and their garden parties were legendary. Leslie is survived by my mother Katherine, who like him anglicised her name when in the US, and myself.

Endnote from  the TES obituary:

Ljubomir Jankovic, professor of zero carbon design at Birmingham City University, recalls “join[ing] the Solar Energy Lab at Birmingham University” in 1984 to start a PhD on the project, “where my PhD supervisor, Leslie Jesch, had designed passive and active solar systems. This development was the largest of [its] kind in northern Europe and the houses were affordable for first-time buyers.”

It was from Dr Jesch, Professor Jankovic went on, that he acquired “a strong passion for improving building performance through capturing solar energy” and learned the value of sheer hard work – carrying out “computational experiments and data analysis all day and all night” – in “striving to make a better world”.

Dr Jesch was eminent in this field, becoming Director and Vice President of the UK-Section of the International Solar Energy Society and Editor of Sunworld. See eleven references in a history of the first 30 years of UK-ISES here.



Updating an earlier post:

cllr huxtable“After the Stirchley floods of 2008 (and other minor flooding events previous to these floods) I am very pleased that there has been investment by the Government and Severn Trent in flood defence works in Stirchley.

“Obviously there was the flood alleviation scheme referenced in the article, but the redesign of the Dogpool Lane bridge, the money put aside to develop a River Rea strategy –  mentioned at the December Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum meeting – the flood storage tanks in Bournville Park adjacent to the River Bourn (which flows into the River Rea just before Dogpool Lane) and investment in floodgates fitted to properties along Ripple Road and Cartland Road have also played their part in protecting properties from flooding”.

stirchley2 floods park 08 Skinny’s Videos

He adds that he is not complacent and believes that more needs to be done along the River Rea (and River Bourn) to protect nearby communities from flood risk (both from river and surface water flooding) but that Stirchley (and Bournville) is in a much better place now to cope with heavy rainfall than in 2008.

bid header

The ‘man in the street’ in Bournville, Cotteridge, Kings Norton and Stirchley, is only just becoming dimly aware of BIDs, which are replacing LEPs in the local headlines at the moment, and wonders what is meant by the term.

“This has been a truly business-led and business-driven project”

If he searched the internet he could uncover the information on the website of the Lifford Business Association (LBA), which advocates “taking back control of our area from an authority that can’t afford to give us what we need and to deciding together what we think is best for the business community and our customers in Bournville, Cotteridge, Kings Norton and Stirchley” (emphasis added).

People, if paid a full living wage, buy goods and services and create jobs

Residents were not involved or given a vote on the final decision – yet residents far and near, are the customers without whom businesses – large and small – could not survive. Business Insider and others are reminding us that – contrary to the prevailing rhetoric – as Nick Hanauer, investor and entrepreneur explains, what creates jobs is a ‘healthy economic ecosystem’, customers paid a full living wage and more. In economic jargon this is known as ‘effective demand’.           

Compete or co-operate?

bid bournville greenThe Lifford BID – via street improvements and advertising – proposed to work together to make the trading environment across Bournville, Cotteridge, Kings Norton and Stirchley one which stands on its own two feet and can compete with any other high street in the city.

Some businesses have claimed that a grassroots approach is behind the success of a revitalisation of Stirchley. Writing on their blog, the bakery Loaf, argues: “It is possible that a BID in the area will actually hamper these grassroots activities through a top down approach. Of course this is dependent on the attitude of the BID committee and there could be a positive effect too, but the history of relationships between the Lifford Business Association and some of the organisations listed above does not give us hope.” The Birmingham Bike Foundry, also on the Pershore road, asked local residents to encourage local businesses not to vote away their say on local services.

bid loafLoaf cites the development in Stirchley’s High Street and cultural life over the last five years with companies and organisations like Birmingham Bike Foundry, South Birmingham Food Coop, Stirchley Stores, Stirchley Market, Stirchley Wines and Spirits, Stirchley Happenings, Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum, Stirchley United Club, the Stirchley Baths committee, Stirchley Park, Love Stirchley, Super Stirchley, Loaf, Birmingham City Council’s Town Centre Manager, Kings Norton Farmers Market and many others contributing to a vibrant cultural life and community atmosphere in the area, adding:

“This grassroots regeneration is not dependent on a BID. It is possible that a BID in the area will actually hamper these grassroots activities through a top down approach. Of course this is dependent on the attitude of the BID committee and there could be a positive effect too, but the history of relationships between the Lifford Business Association and some of the organisations listed above does not give us hope . . . A BID is a step in the direction of privatisation of our high streets. A BID subtly suggests that the businesses in the area have ownership over it, and can decide what improvements and changes they would like to make and have the right to carry those out . . .”.

A correspondent, having just heard about this initiative, after summarising these views by email, agrees that “there are better ways of organising as Stirchley’s self-made revival testifies”:

“What’s lost of course is that the BID could have been redistributive, as Stirchley and Bournville’s successes could not necessarily be replicated in the poorer areas the BID would have covered without the cross-subsidy the BID would have engendered… though I’m not sure if this redistribution would have happened in practice beyond a few minor street improvements”.

handshake subsidies

At least there is now one well-received prospective political leader clearly offering to build a ‘healthy economic ecosystem’, increasing the effective demand which would be spent on goods and services and so revitalising business and manufacturing – instead of giving the hidden subsidies, direct grants and tax breaks to big business (‘handshakes’) which are reported to amount to £3,500 a year per household.

rogers and bore
When Mark Rogers was chief executive of Solihull MBC, the corporate owners of a derelict cottage were told that it would be subject to a compulsory purchase order if not repaired and refurbished. It now provides a much needed family home.

PoW cottage
A prime example of properties allowed to fall into dereliction by private landlords, though a neighbouring business has offered to buy and redevelop the site, may be seen below.

waitrose dereliction
For well over ten years, a neglected corner of Hall Green on the Stratford Road has been an eyesore, attracting vandalism.

waitrose high view estatesThe photograph opposite was taken three years ago and the buildings are in far worse condition today. Though its next-door neighbour, a Waitrose store, has offered to buy these properties and make good use of the site, the landlords have refused to sell them.

CPRE members are seeking information about brownfield sites and this Hall Green site is just one of the unused commercial and residential properties gradually becoming derelict in many parts of the city.

Mark Rogers is probably advising the council leader to look beyond the city centre and care for all the city’s buildings – taking the suburb of Bournville as the standard to be achieved.

These were the words of a reader on hearing the news that Mondelez International – ‘delicious world’ – have announced job losses (est. 350 according to UNITE). A document called “High Performing Bournville is this for me?”, has described a £75 million programme of investment in the factory to replace ageing equipment.

cadbury factory

Jon Griffin recently noted in the Post that, until now, “the management style appeared to attempt to reflect the paternalistic approach which had owed so much to the Cadbury family and the Quaker heritage”.

Some Cadbury-Mondelez employees, writing in ‘careers community’  Glassdoor, qualify this. One entry:

“The greatest challenge is now to ensure your face fits within the team, as if it doesn’t then ruthless behaviours are practiced to make you feel uncomfortable to the point of moving on. It’s really disheartening to see and feel this as decisions, however unpopular, should always be communicated by ensuring the employee/individual is afforded integrity. This is now lacking when under Cadbury it was always evident”.

The takeover of Cadbury, as Griffin said, was wanted by nobody, apart from the bosses at Kraft and a few institutional shareholders. He concludes that, with an expired moratorium on manufacturing job losses, and even accepting the analysis that Bournville needs to change its ways, there is still more to any workplace than job security.

Glassdoor: “treat your employees with the dignity and respect they deserve”.