Richard & George Cadbury

Richard & George Cadbury

Class of 2005

Richard and George joined the family business, Cadbury Ltd., in 1850 and 1856 respectively. They took over the business in 1871 when their father retired because of ailing health.

When Richard and George assumed control at the ages of 21 and 25, the prospects were daunting. Their first five years were filled with incredibly hard work with few customers, long hours and frugal living. Both brothers considered taking up other opportunities.

Eventually they began to find their niches, with George concentrating on manufacturing and Richard leading the sales effort. But in the early days, both brothers actively promoted their goods to the trade.

In the mid 1860s, the Cadbury brothers, dissatisfied with the quality of existing cocoa products, including their own, took a momentous step that would change the entire cocoa business. In 1866 they introduced a new cocoa bean processing technique that enabled the brothers to market a new cocoa essence: “Absolutely Pure-Therefore Best.” Not only was this a huge innovation for the brothers, it led to the manufacturing of “eating chocolate.”

Using this technique they began moulding chocolate into blocks, bars and chocolate cremes. The quality of these products was such that in the 1870s the brothers were able to break the monopoly French producers had on the British market.

Their dedication and hard work, and the improvement of the quality of cocoa, helped the business survive and grow.

By 1878, George, Richard and their 200 employees had outgrown their original facility and in 1879 built a new factory on 14 acres on the bank of Bourn Brook in Birmingham, England. The site offered a good water supply and room for growth. Adjacent to the Bristol docks, cocoa beans were delivered by the company’s own barges. Within 10 years the company grew to 1,200 employees.

Pioneers in industrial relations and employee welfare, the brothers set standards that included a five-day work week and bank holidays. They encouraged young employees to attend night school and offered such worker facilities as medical and dental care, education, heated dressing rooms and recreational gardens.

In 1893 George bought 120 acres near the Cadbury factory and began building Bournville Village, with the aim of providing affordable, quality housing for wage earners. When complete, George opened the estate to all, not just Cadbury workers.

Richard died in 1899 at the age of 63, George died in 1922.