On Tuesday Jill and myself caught a train from Kings Norton station into Birmingham New Street. I had booked us a guided tour of the last remaining Birmingham back-to-back houses, now in the care of the National Trust. What I imagined I was going to see was something like 'Coronation Street' style housing where yards backed onto other yards; not so..
NT. photo of birmingham B2Bs
Court fifteen, as it was known, is the last of hundreds and hundreds of similar groups of back to backs. This court of eleven dwellings and 4/5 shops was built in 1831to house the expanding working class population of Birmingham. The Industrial revolution was in full swing and workers were migrating in to towns from the countryside where land enclosure was undermining there traditional way of life and new mills and factories were hungry for manpower. Landowners built cheap housing to accomodate this influx of humanity. The back-to-backs were divided 'vertically' if you can imagine that. The front had a door leading into a kitchen/parlour and from this room there was stairway to the first floor bedroom and in turn, a stairway from the first floor bedrom to the second floor bedroom. The back of the house mirrored that of the front, with no access between the two halves; they were two seperate and distinct dwellings! So, 1831, no sanitation, no fresh water supply, no gas, electricity.
The Levy boys shared this room.
Dwelling two, a parlour/kitchen of the 1870's with a better range.
Mr Levy's workbench by the window. He was a watch/clock maker.
The communal copper/boiler in the wash house. This is situated in the rear yard and households had a rota for using the facilities.
The Levy family dining table set for a sabbath meal.
My pictures and poor narrative fails to do justice to this fascinating museum; it makes a refreshing change from Stately Homes!