GEORGE CADBURY: The famous chocolate maker and philanthropist who died 100 years ago, is profiled by Paula Redmond


Chocolate manufacturer and philanthropist George Cadbury died in October 1922. Son of John Cadbury, founder of Cadbury’s Chocolate, George and his brother Richard introduced new processing methods which led to Cadbury’s becoming a market leader in chocolate production. Products George introduced, such as Dairy Milk, are still favourites today.

Strongly influenced by his Quaker beliefs, George sought to improve conditions for employees. This included overseeing the design and construction of the village of Bournville, Birmingham, to provide better living and working conditions for them.

Born in 1801 in Birmingham, England, George’s father John served an apprenticeship with John Cudworth, a Quaker and tea retailer in Leeds. Following his apprenticeship he went to London to take up employment with the bonded tea house Sanderson Fox. While working there he visited the warehouses of the East India Company who traded in tea, coffee and cocoa. John believed that cocoa had more commercial potential but was unsure what to do with it at that time.

In 1824 he set up a shop in Bull Street, Birmingham where he specialised in tea, roasted coffee, cocoa and drinking chocolate, which he made himself with pestle and mortar. He and fellow Quakers viewed such hot drinks as healthy alternatives to alcohol.

His shop stood out in the city as it was the first to have a plate glass window made up of smaller glass panes set in mahogany. He employed a Chinese assistant who wore traditional Chinese dress and the shop also featured many oriental chests and vases.

As John Cadbury’s business grew he decided to start producing his products on a commercial scale and opened a manufacturing premises in 1831. The following year he married Candia Barrow. The couple went on to have six sons and one daughter. By 1842 Cadbury was making eleven different cocoas and fourteen different drinking chocolates.
In 1847 manufacturing moved to a larger factory in Bridge Street in the centre of Birmingham. This site had the advantage of its own private canal spur allowing access to the Birmingham Navigational System and onwards to all major British ports.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own