History of the Trust

Barrow Cadbury was the grandson of John Cadbury, the founder of the family-run Cadbury chocolate business in Birmingham, where Barrow worked for almost 50 years, succeeding his uncle George as Chairman in 1918. Barrow founded the Barrow Cadbury Trust in 1920 with his wife Geraldine.

Since its foundation the Barrow Cadbury Trust has been in the vanguard of social change. Inspired by Quaker beliefs and a vision for a more just society, Barrow and Geraldine Cadbury used their increasing wealth, (whilst living modestly themselves), drawn from the company, to tackle profound social ills, including juvenile crime and urban poverty.

Standing apart from other philanthropists, even rejecting the term itself and the patronage it implied, Barrow and Geraldine were influential social reformers who worked ceaselessly to improve the communities around them.  Watch the animation to see how the Trust has evolved.

In time, Barrow and Geraldine’s children became Trustees and their son, Paul Cadbury, took over as Chair in 1959. Paul, his sisters and many of their descendants have all given time to being trustees and have added generously to the Trust’s endowment.  Our current Chair is Erica Cadbury, a great grand-daughter of the founders.

Origins of the Barrow Cadbury Trust endowment

In July 2020, in the context of inequalities accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, increased public scrutiny of the origins of philanthropic capital, Black Lives Matter protests, and George Floyd’s murder, Erica Cadbury wrote a blog about the need to be transparent about the origins of the Trust’s endowment.  A public apology from the Barrow Cadbury Trust board and the Executive Team ensued as that research revealed a more troubling and complex history of enslavement of Angolan people in Sao Tome and Principe.  Find out more about the history in this document.

A History of the Barrow Cadbury Trust: Constancy and Change in Quaker Philanthropy

In 2013 the Trust commissioned Merlin Waterson & Samantha Wyndham to write a history of the Barrow Cadbury Trust with the focus very much on the Trust since its inception in 1920.  The book tells the story of Barrow and Geraldine’s groundbreaking work, first in Birmingham and the West Midlands and later elsewhere in the UK and overseas. It also describes how subsequent generations of the Cadbury family have ensured that the work of the Trust has continued to evolve with the changing social context, straddling the creation of the welfare state for which Barrow and Geraldine had long argued.

From their support for pioneering equalities movements and peace initiatives in Northern Ireland, to discreet backing for the Mandela family during the years of Apartheid, the Trust’s story tracks many of the social changes of the 20th century.

We no longer have copies of the book available for sale.  But if you look on Ebay or a used books seller you may be able to find a copy using these details:  ISBN: 978-0957484009. Publisher: Barrow Cadbury Trust, Authors: Merlin Waterson and Samantha Wyndham. 

Cadbury Trusts archives

The records of the eight trusts and charitable companies created by Barrow and Geraldine Cadbury and their son Paul are now available to researchers at Birmingham Archives, Heritage and Photography.  A 27 month project, initiated and funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, has made over three thousand records accessible through an extensive archival online catalogue at the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research at the Library of Birmingham.

The collection documents both the internal administration of the Cadbury Trusts (including the Barrow and Geraldine S. Cadbury Trust, the Barrow Cadbury Fund, a benevolent fund, the Paul S. Cadbury Trust, the Barrow Cadbury Fund Ltd. a charitable company, the Southfield Trust, the Worgan Trust, Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. and the Barrow Cadbury Trust) as well as the grant making activities of these organisations, and can be found under the archival collection reference MS 1579.

Due to the sensitive nature of many of the records contained in the collection many files require permission to view.  However, a number of open records, including joint annual reports and Paul Cadbury’s 1971 history of the Cadbury Trusts, have been digitised as pdfs and may be downloaded from the online catalogue.