|Fry's Somerdale Factory|
|Client||J. S. Fry & Sons|
Somerdale was a chocolate factory located in Keynsham near Bristol in south west England, closed by Kraft foods in 2011. It was the home of a Cadbury plc's production facility, and was originally built by the Fry family when they expanded through consolidation of a number of existing facilities located in the centre of Bristol.
After the First World War, Cadbury Brothers undertook a financial merger with J. S. Fry & Sons, which completed in 1919. As a result of the merger, Egbert Cadbury joined the Fry side of the business. Along with Cecil Roderick Fry he was instrumental in the relocation and of the Bristol operations of Fry from Union Street to a 228-acre (0.92 km2) greenfield site called Somerdale Garden City, after a national competition in 1923.
As Quakers, the factory was built with social facilities, including playing fields and a large recreational sports grounds, which still today serves the town of Keynsham. This transfer took 11 years as production was gradually transferred as the modern blocks erected. Finally completed in 1935, at its height the Somerdale workforce was in excess of 5,000. It had its own power station and railway, with connection to the Great Western Railway via sidings at Keynsham railway station. During World War II, with chocolate production reduced due to war time rationing, spare floor capacity was taken over by Rolls Royce to produce Merlin engines.
Previously, Keynsham Cadbury was the home of Fry's Chocolate Cream, the Double Decker, Dairy Milk, Chocolate Buttons, Cream Eggs and Mini Eggs, Cadbury's Fudge, Chomp and Crunchie. According to Cadbury Employees (or 'Chocolate Welders' as they are locally known), the Crunchie Machine makes enough bars to stretch to The Moon and back every week.
On 3 October 2007, Cadbury announced plans to close the Somerdale plant by 2010 with the loss of some 500 jobs. In an effort to maintain competitiveness in a global marketplace, production has been moved to a sister factory in Skarbimierz, Poland. Another motivational factor was the high real estate value of the land. In the longer term it is likely the largely greenfield site will be re-classified and provide Keynsham with much needed additional housing. Labour MP for Wansdyke, Dan Norris said "news of the factory's closure is a hard and heavy blow, not just to the workforce, but to the Keynsham community as a whole".
In late 2007 campaigns to save the Cadbury's Factory in Somerdale were in full swing. One local resident started a campaign to urge English Heritage to protect the site, and preserve the history of the factory. This campaign hoped to stop the land being sold for housing, and the Somerdale factory being destroyed.
In February 2010, following the takeover of Cadbury plc by Kraft Foods, the closure was confirmed to take place in 2011, and production of Cadbury products were moved to Warsaw, Poland. Production of Cadbury products was however promised to not move entirely out of the United Kingdom. The factory closed on 31 March 2011, after which machinery was shipped to Poland.
In early January 2012 the sale was agreed of the 220 acres (89 ha) site to the developer Taylor Wimpey, who wished to build 700 homes, a care home, some shops, a restaurant and a 210-place nursery and primary school. The plans retain the existing sports facilities and rebuild the Fry Club.
The plans include the demolition of 'block d' of the factory, to provide space for a rebuilt Fry Club, and in August 2014 some of factory had been demolished. In September 2014 show homes were opened, and sales of houses began.
In the hope of continuing the tradition of The Fry Club as the social hub for the area, a new building was opened in November 2015 to provide leisure, health and entertainment services as well as facilities for weddings and private parties. The new Somerdale Pavilion is managed by the charitable organisation Aquaterra Leisure.
During the last week of February 2016 the landmark red brick factory chimney was demolished.
The remains of a small Roman villa, about 50 feet square, are in the grounds of Somerdale Factory, near the main road entrance to the site. The remains were discovered during the construction of the factory in 1922, and moved to the present site. The discovery included two stone coffins.
- Cadbury, Deborah (2011). Chocolate Wars. Harper Press. pp. 242–244. ISBN 9780007325573.
- Leitch, Russell (1997). Railways of Keynsham: Featuring Fry's Chocolate Passenger and Freight Operations. The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society. ISBN 978-0901115829.
- "Cadbury factories shed 700 jobs". BBC News. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
- Save Our Somerdale
- "Cadbury's Bristol plant to close by 2011". BBC News. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
- Chris Kelly (14 January 2011). "Broken chocolate factory pledge devastates Keynsham". BBC. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
- "Chocs away as staff leave Cadbury's factory for last time". Bath Chronicle. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
- "First batch of new houses at Keynsham's Somerdale Cadbury factory site go on sale". Bristol Post. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- "£50m plan for Somerdale site includes 700 homes, hotel and school". Bristol Evening Post. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- "Cadbury's Somerdale plant in Keynsham sold to developer". BBC News. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- "Bath cleans up at former Cadbury's plant". Demolition News. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- "Taylor Wimpey Bristol set to bring new homes and investment on former Cadbury site at Somerdale, Keynsham". Western Daily Press. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- personal observation of work
- Historic England. "Roman Well (Grade II) (1384575)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- "Keynsham Heritage Trust". Keynsham Heritage Trust. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Somerdale Factory.|
- Save Our Somerdale (archived 27 July 2013)
- Sweets For The Sweet, British Pathe, 1934
- Sunset on Somerdale, photos from final months of operation, David Calvin