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.