Lone British Island of Sobriety Subsumed Beneath a Tide of Demon Liquor 


After more than a century, there is now a single place in Bournville, England—a village built by the founders of Cadbury candy, and still closely tied to the company—where you can buy a goddamn drink. Not everybody is thrilled.

The Birmingham Mail has followed the controversy closely. You see, before this, Bournville wasn’t just dry, but famously dry. The Quaker teetotaler Cadburys built the village in the 1890s for their chocolate-making employees, and ever since there have been no pubs, no wine-selling Tescos, nothing. There’s certainly no drinking in public.

And some residents are pissed that their alcohol-free Eden could be despoiled. One man painted a dire picture for the Birmingham Mail: “This is a catastrophic decision and goes against 120 years of history and heritage in Bournville,” said Councilor Sealey, adding that, “There will be a rise in anti-social behaviour in the area now with the selling of alcohol. It is a devastating blow for residents but we will appeal.”

Former councilor Nigel Dawkins, currently the village’s honorary alderman, really flipped his shit, lambasting the little suburban hamlet’s owner and governing body, the Bournville Village Trust, for failing to block the measure:

“A hundred year old tradition in Bournville has been extinguished, snuffed out and cast aside. A tradition that has enhanced the uniqueness of the leafy suburb created by George and Richard Cadbury for a hundred years and has served as a modern reminder of the wonderful work both men had done to improve the lives of the industrial working classes in this country.
“George Cadbury and his brother Richard had witnessed in the second half of the nineteenth century the ravaging effect of alcohol upon those workers living in the squalor of a newly industrialised Birmingham. He had seen lives destroyed and families ripped apart.
“The Bournville Village Trust was gifted the village of Bournville and all of its assets and entrusted to preserve the legacy of George Cadbury and to maintain his good works and traditions.
“This week a small newsagent on Mary Vale managed to convince this committee that Bournville’s 100 year old tradition, that there should be no alcohol sales within the village, was of no significance and should be cast aside.

Somebody from the Bournville Village Trust told the Birmingham Mail that the newsstand in question was outside their territory.

Meanwhile, the guy who actually secured the liquor license for his newsstand and convenience store is like, look, gotta make a buck somehow, fellas. “I’ve tried to diversify by selling fruit and vegetables but no-one bought them,” Kamal Sharma told the Birmingham Mail. “I asked my customers what they wanted and they were unanimous in wanting somewhere nearby to pick up a few beers or a bottle of wine.”

He stressed that he’s got no plans to turn the village into Dodge City: “I certainly don’t want to alienate my wonderful customers who have supported me through this. It will remain a newsagents and convenience store but will now sell alcohol.”

Frankly it sounds like everybody involved could use a chocolate bar and a drink.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Photo of Bournville circa its founding via Getty.

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