Friday, 21 September 2012


We finally got to see the National Trusts Birmingham Back to Backs, at one point I didn't think we were going to be able to with our unexpected hospital visit.  

Last Saturday it was Mum's birthday and prior to James' hospital visit we were intending to travel down to see her, collecting the Bongo during the week, which we had left back in Minworth but of course this wasn't to be. Jess had arranged to go and stay with her for the weekend and made the lovely cake. Then Mum suggested her and Jess visit us instead on Sunday and as we were right in the City centre it was easier for them to get the train instead of driving, negotiating their way across Birmingham and then parking, much easier to get off the train at New Street Station and walk the 10 minutes or so back to Cambrian Wharf. Mum then treated us to a lovely lunch at Jimmy's Spice, which should have been our treat as it was her birthday!! But it was much appreciated - thanks again Mum. It seemed all too soon that we were walking back to the station to see them off on their train. It was an unexpected visit and lovely to see them both again.

On Monday, as James has mentioned previously we spent the day sorting out the Bongo, cycling to collect it from Minworth, driving to Kiddermister and then getting the train back to Birmingham.

On Tuesday, after a lot of hassle getting through to the National Trust on the phone, I managed to book us into the Birmingham Back to Backs, it's not one of those things you can just turn up to like the majority of the Trust's properties but they have guided tours, which you have to book in advance. I booked us into the 3:30pm one and you arrive 15 minutes before to look around the exhibition first. 

Communal Courtyard with wash-house on the left

Two of the houses

The front houses with some being shops
The Back to Backs were built in the early 1800's and this is the last surviving court of them. They are houses built literally back to back around a communal courtyard with communal privies and wash-houses. There were thousands built in Birmingham around this time, with around 2,000 in this area alone. The National Trust have restored the houses so one is from the 1840's, one from the 1870's, one the 1930's and the final one from the 1970's. Each one depicts the lives of the former residents of that era and was set up exactly as they would have lived. They are three storey houses with one room on each floor with tiny winding staircases. It was very interesting to see how people lived and how they coped living in such a small area with so many people. In the early years the residents would have to trek to Ladywell to get their water from the well with buckets, these were big wooden buckets and were very heavy empty let alone filled with water, it would have been the children's job to get the water, there is now an Ibis hotel built on the Ladywell site. Later a communal tap was installed outside the wash-house and around the 1930's one single tap was install in each house. 

On Wednesday James had another doctors appointment for a blood, then we're off, leaving Birmingham..

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