Friday, 25 September 2015

Back to Backs

One weekend in September every year, many historic sites and buildings open their doors for free to encourage interest in history.  We had seen many of those open in and around Coventry, so took a train to nearby Birmingham to see the Back to Back houses in the city centre.

The three houses were built around a small courtyard on the back of a series of shops, they had no indoor running water, the shared toilet was in a shed in the yard and they were inhabited by over 60 people. They were condemned as uninhabitable by the city council in the mid 1960s, and gradually fell into disrepair.

 The only reason the back to backs were not demolished was that one of the shops at the front of Court 15 remained in use as a tailors until the 1970s.

The buildings were saved after listing in the late 1980s, and the Birmingham Conservation trust funded their restoration.

Now, you can not only visit for a guided tour, but even stay in a couple of the cottages!  What a great base for seeing our second city. The tailor left the contents of his shop and these form part of the exhibition, including his patterns, an original suit hand made by Saunders and even his tiny changing room along with full length mirror.

So, after our visit, I made a scrapbook page to include some of my photos. My papers are a vintage set by Crate,

I included chipboard bunting to match the hand knitted bunting pinned up in the courtyard.
My MIL tells me that many members of her family lived in Back to Back houses in her native Bradford.

It's funny, bit after a discussion here we did feel that the houses would have some benefits... imagine knowing your neighbours well, and having a safe place for the children to play outside. Wouldn't fancy the outside loo though.


Emily Grant said...

Great layout! (I always look forward to your posts - love a bit of history) :)

Louise H said...

Sounds a fascinating place. My Dad lived in back to back terraces as a boy - at least they had their own outside loo. I love a bit of social history - if I am ever in Birmingham I must remember this as a place to visit. Super layout too. Oh and I got some Nuvo crystal drops - they look fab, so thanks for recommending them.

sue jones said...

Great page. I lived in a house like that in the 1960's. We had an outside loo and the bath was behind a panel in the kitchen ! Thankfully it was only for a about 3 years and our next home seemed like a palace after that!

Margaret Guest said...

Thanks for reminding me of these. DH was born in a back-to-back in Shefield & lived, (with his Gran on the front side of their house) till he was 4 & moved to a bigger place. His Dad put a bath in the kitchen with a hinged lid over it to make his Mum a working surface, & he also put in their own toilet housed onto the outside of the kitchen. Mgt.x

Wendy said...

What a fascinating story and great LO.