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The angel in the garden suburb: Arcadian allegory in the (‘Girls’ Grounds' at the Cadbury factory, Bournville, England, 1880–1930

The angel in the garden suburb: Arcadian allegory in the (‘Girls’ Grounds' at the Cadbury... Abstract To the south and west of the Cadbury Chocolate factory in Bournville, a suburb of Binningham, lie 26 acres of gardens and recreation grounds. In the spring, when the daffodils along Bounville Lane are in bloom, or in the summer when a works cricket game is in progress, the factory looks almost Arcadian. The men's recreation ground and picturesque pavilion, a half-timbered turreted folly,' are still in regular use, but the garden across the road, once the ‘Girls’ Grounds’ for the female employees, is visited by only a handful of staff during their lunch hour, or by locals who wander in from Bounville Lane on a wam1 day. The garden belonged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to Boumbrook Hall, a Palladian villa, demolished by the Cadburys in 1907 when they redesigned the gardens. The eighteenth-century landscaping with Edwardian additions is still clearly visible, but the lawns, shrubberies and garden buildings, although tidy, have seen better days (figure I). The pergola and pond are neglected, the summerhouse removed, the garden pavilion boarded up and the glasshouses in the kitchen garden have just been pulled down. In the 19 50S, the Cadburys employed 59 gardeners and groundsmen to maintain the grounds, provide fresh produce for the works dining rooms and copious flowers for the factory and offices, practices which continued until the 1980s.2 Today, the remaining groundsman, Calvin Green, does his best but, as with many neglected parks, dystopia threatens. The waming signs that punctuate the grounds, superficially reassuring in their purple livery, produce asense of unease - ‘Alcohol or Illegal Substances are Not Pennitted in these Grounds’ (figure 2). So why does the firm, now Cadbury Trebor Bassett, still maintain the gardens when they appear to be something of a liability and why has the land not been consumed by development like most factory landscapes? The answer lies in the patemalism of Richard and George Cadbury and their vision of a ‘Factory in a Garden’. The brothers gave the garden to their employees in 1897 and tied it up in a trust for the use of Cadbury employees only.3 The firm's plans for the future of the gardens are unclear, but they take their history seriously (£1.7 million has just been spent reroofing the I905 Girls' Baths, an English Heritage Grade 2 listed building). This paper, in drawing out the his tory of the garden and its significance in the context of industrial history and the architectural and landscape history of factories, proposes a restoration of the gardens and a programme of activities to reinstate its potential as a public park. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes Taylor & Francis

The angel in the garden suburb: Arcadian allegory in the (‘Girls’ Grounds' at the Cadbury factory, Bournville, England, 1880–1930

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References (1)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1943-2186
eISSN
1460-1176
DOI
10.1080/14601176.2007.10435948
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract To the south and west of the Cadbury Chocolate factory in Bournville, a suburb of Binningham, lie 26 acres of gardens and recreation grounds. In the spring, when the daffodils along Bounville Lane are in bloom, or in the summer when a works cricket game is in progress, the factory looks almost Arcadian. The men's recreation ground and picturesque pavilion, a half-timbered turreted folly,' are still in regular use, but the garden across the road, once the ‘Girls’ Grounds’ for the female employees, is visited by only a handful of staff during their lunch hour, or by locals who wander in from Bounville Lane on a wam1 day. The garden belonged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to Boumbrook Hall, a Palladian villa, demolished by the Cadburys in 1907 when they redesigned the gardens. The eighteenth-century landscaping with Edwardian additions is still clearly visible, but the lawns, shrubberies and garden buildings, although tidy, have seen better days (figure I). The pergola and pond are neglected, the summerhouse removed, the garden pavilion boarded up and the glasshouses in the kitchen garden have just been pulled down. In the 19 50S, the Cadburys employed 59 gardeners and groundsmen to maintain the grounds, provide fresh produce for the works dining rooms and copious flowers for the factory and offices, practices which continued until the 1980s.2 Today, the remaining groundsman, Calvin Green, does his best but, as with many neglected parks, dystopia threatens. The waming signs that punctuate the grounds, superficially reassuring in their purple livery, produce asense of unease - ‘Alcohol or Illegal Substances are Not Pennitted in these Grounds’ (figure 2). So why does the firm, now Cadbury Trebor Bassett, still maintain the gardens when they appear to be something of a liability and why has the land not been consumed by development like most factory landscapes? The answer lies in the patemalism of Richard and George Cadbury and their vision of a ‘Factory in a Garden’. The brothers gave the garden to their employees in 1897 and tied it up in a trust for the use of Cadbury employees only.3 The firm's plans for the future of the gardens are unclear, but they take their history seriously (£1.7 million has just been spent reroofing the I905 Girls' Baths, an English Heritage Grade 2 listed building). This paper, in drawing out the his tory of the garden and its significance in the context of industrial history and the architectural and landscape history of factories, proposes a restoration of the gardens and a programme of activities to reinstate its potential as a public park.

Journal

Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed LandscapesTaylor & Francis

Published: Jul 1, 2007

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