Chocolate. Most of us have a warm affection for the stuff, some may even confess a mild addiction to it!
Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree are all well known Quaker “chocolate” names.
In the late C18, Joseph Fry, who had studied as an apothecary, encouraged the use of chocolate as a drink, manufacturing it himself as a healthy drink, thus laying the foundation for the first of the Quaker cocoa firms.
In 1869 the Quaker brothers George and Richard Cadbury took over the chocolate business from their father John.
It was by no means prosperous, but they worked from the start to ensure all their workers had the best possible working conditions.
The brothers had been actively working in the Adult School movement in Birmingham, a place where workers could learn to read and write. When their chocolate factory began to prosper, they shared all with their employees.
The factory moved to out of town to Bournville where they were surrounded by open-air, gardens and playing fields. As things improved, housing, with all current “mod-cons”, ( including a generous plot planted with two fruit trees), schools, pension schemes, health and convalescent care, half-day off every week, and many other benefits were added.
In 1869, brothers Joseph and Henry Rowntree continued their father’s chocolate production.
Like the Fry’s and Cadbury’s they brought many enlightened innovations to the conduct of the business: model villages, modern schools, holidays, and gifts of books.
The Rowntree Trusts today carry on the kindly concern of Joseph at the heart of education in its widest sense.
Joshua Rowntree wrote: “I feel certain that men and women all over the world, in all walks of life, many of whose religion is not a method but a Life, mystical in its roots, practical in its fruits, a Communion with God, a love that radiates, a force that acts.”
Paula Seddon writing on behalf of Wokingham Quakers for Churches Together in Wokingham