#BookReview for A History of Cadbury by Diane Wordsworth #AHistoryofCadbury @PenSwordBooks

When John Cadbury came to Birmingham in 1824, he sold tea, coffee and drinking chocolate in a small shop on Bull Street. Drinking chocolate was considered a healthy alternative to alcohol, something Cadbury, a Quaker, was keen to encourage.

In 1879, the Cadburys moved to Bournville and created their ‘factory in a garden’ – an unprecedented move. It is now ironic that today’s Bournville is surrounded by that urban sprawl the Cadburys were so keen to get away from.

This book looks at some of the social impact this company has had since its inception, both on the chocolate and cocoa business in general and on the community at large, both within and without the firm of Cadbury.

In 2024, Cadbury’s will be celebrating 200 years of the first store opening. This is the story of how the company began, how it grew, and how they diversified in order to survive.



I thought that this was a really great insight in to the Cadbury family, their history and how the business has developed and grown since it was set up back in 1824 as a single tea shop on Bull Street in Birmingham by John Cadbury.

I liked that the book introduced the significant family members that were involved in the Company and its set up, and subsequent running.  The family had a massive impact on the local area and the community and showed a genuine interest in the needs of their employees, both from a work life balance point of view though to health concerns, which was unprecedented for that time, and indeed is not always taken up by Companies being run today – they really were trend setters.

The book also talks about the different products and the development of the different packages, and how they managed through wars at the start of the last century and the impact it had on their production, their employees, and their customers.

During The Great War, a large proportion of their employees enlisted to join the British Armed Forces and they held their jobs open for them to return too.  They also turned two of their factories over to be used as hospitals.

During World War II, parts of the Bournville factory were turned over to war work, producing milling machines and seats for fighter aircraft – they really played their parts. Workers ploughed their football fields to plant crops too. As chocolate was regarded as an essential food, it was placed under government supervision for the entire war, they did alter the make-up of their famous Dairy Milk bar after milk was rationed.  The wartime rationing of chocolate ended in 1950, and normal production resumed.

The author also discusses the recent take over where the Cadbury business was bought by Kraft Foods, now Mondelēz International, Inc. who took them over in 2010.

The book was also a step back in time for me as I will always remember going for a visit round Cadbury’s World with school, I was so excited as I knew you got free chocolate as you went round, but after the first few rooms the smell of the warm chocolate made me feel nauseous – I always used to say how could you work with chocolate all day and not want to eat it all – I had my answer!

It is 4 stars from me for this one, it was a good insight in to how Cadbury shaped the local area and community too, it was well written and an enjoyable read too, the author has clearly done an awful lot of research and knows her topic.  Highly recommended and a great addition to my social history collection!