History of the Cadbury Hall and the Cadbury Limited factory that paid for it to be built
CADBURY’S ASSOCIATION WITH FRAMPTON ON SEVERN
Milk chocolate, a blend of milk and cocoa, had been invented in the late 19th century. It was probably growing demand as well as the need to minimise the distance which liquid milk had to be transported in the days before refrigerated bulk tankers which led Cadburys to look for a site for a factory in Gloucestershire. The Severn Vale was, in the early 20th century, prime dairy country with rich pasture and numerous small farms.
Frampton was well located centrally in the vale, but its crucial advantage was the canal. The cocoa beans arrived at the ports of the Bristol Channel where they were unloaded onto lighters or barges and brought up the river and canal to Frampton.
Milk came in churns, often by horse and cart in the 1920s, from farms all around and was combined with the prepared cocoa to make what was known as ‘chocolate crumb’.
The crumb was then loaded into narrow boats to be taken up the canal, onto the River Severn, then via the Staffs and Worcs Canal to the Cadbury Bournville factory, which was of course also on a canal bank.
Cadburys began buying land in Frampton in 1915, the factory was built quickly and seems to have been operating by 1917. By 1920 the whole area west of Lake Lane and north of Bridge Road as far as the recreation ground had been acquired, although not all was needed for factory buildings.
The new factory was obviously very significant socially for Frampton because of the jobs it provided as an alternative to the only other major local employment – farm work, and is possibly one of the reasons why the first local authority housing was built in the village in the 1930s. It remained a significant local employer (indeed the only significant local employer) until its final closure in 1982.
Cadburys is well known as a paternalist employer, and this was soon shown in Frampton, where sports facilities were provided on the spare ground off Lake Lane – the Bowling Green in 1922, and later tennis courts and the first class cricket field. In addition, there was a small pavilion which was rebuilt in 1936 to mark the Silver Jubilee of George V. This created the existing main hall and stage, with a range of changing rooms and kitchen etc alongside.
When the factory closed, the whole sports area was offered to the parish council, but sadly it rejected taking on the responsibility, and instead, some land was bought by the County Council for the new school; some was sold for housing; and the northern section was bought by the Community Association for the recreation ground. The County Council’s area included the sports pavilion, which was then leased by the Community Association in 1987, and with two major redevelopment projects in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was turned into the present community centre.
The photographs below show the factory in its early days.