From the archive - 03.08.1951
Grocers at Bournville: first women's course
This week at Bournville, Birmingham, the Beeches College is holding its 20th course for those intending to make a career in the retail grocery trade. More remarkable is that this is the first course of the kind for women, although the college has now six years' experience in this sort of work and in the allied confectionery trade.
Founded by Cadbury Brothers Limited in 1945 as a residential establishment for about 25 students, Beeches College was intended primarily for those seeking to invest their post-war gratuities in their own talents by learning enough of these two branches of the retail trade to start shops of their own.
It is noticeable that of the 16 women present on the course, six either have their own businesses or intend to start them.
Significant, too, because of what is often thought to be a trend from the ranks of the white to those of the black-coated workers, is that three of this first group of women of all ages and from all parts of the kingdom have abandoned jobs as secretaries to master the intricacies of grocery.
Even a brief visit is enough to impress the layman with the amount that a good grocer should know, only a small part of which can be covered in a three-week course.
The skill of the saleswoman is assessed from her effect upon a fellow student: window display has an important place in the syllabus, and enough is given of the history of such things as cocoa to make of them more than the processed commodities of the shopkeeper's shelf.