TO BACK TERRACES
back to backs were built to house the rapidly increasing working population that
swelled Britain's expanding industrial towns.
The houses in Birmingham
are the last surviving example of 'court' style back to back housing in England.
rows of houses were literally built 'back to back' one room deep.
back to back house has three rooms, one above the other.
The housing became
renowned for squalor, disease and poverty due to its cramped design and poor sanitation.
a tour and turn back time
So what was it like to live in a back to back?
approach the houses from a main street although most are reached from a tight
entry leading into a squalid yard.
squalid and smelly courtyard|
On entering the courtyard, we
can see women washing clothes, families using the communal lavatories, and rubbish
being stored in miskins.
Once inside the house, we enter a pokey downstairs
scullery with a sink and a couple of shelves.
This acts as a kitchen, dining
room and living room, and sometimes a workshop.
Upstairs there's two bedrooms
shared by six people. Bugs, vermin and silverfish infest the room.
our noses as the pungent yard smells waft through the windows. The stench is overwhelming.
a 1830's back to back
My name’s Margaret Mead and I'd like to take you
on a tour of my house in 1830.
I live on Birmingham's Inge Street with my
husband and five children.
is what our house looks like inside ..|
Our house is a three
storey terrace with a common yard, a privy and wash house which we share with
fifteen other families.
We pay 3d a week in rent. Some of our neighbours
are so poor that they do ‘moonlight flits’.
I sometimes work from the downstairs
scullery as a pearl button driller. My brother glues matchboxes.
is a buttonmaker and works long, hard hours. We also have a lodger who is an apprentice
Inside a 1920's back to back
Bette Green was brought
up in the back to backs of Hurst Street between 1919-1928.
the harsh living conditions,
"There were no beds, we were just lying
on the floor. You had bugs, you had rats. It was so awful".
the last resident, has happier memories of the community spirit in these streets.
people say they were slums but e never thought they were slums. It might have
been a bit cramped but we had some very happy times here."
to showpiece museum
Now the back to backs are to be restored by Birmingham
Conservation Trust and the National Trust at a cost of £3 million.
will be able to see the houses at different stages in their history - 1802, late
19th century, pre-war 1930's and 1960's.
This unique snapshot of life will
be open to the public in 2004. We can't wait to see it!