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Houses restored

K

kenh

Guest
back to backs

well done John for an excellent description of our house and for mentioning many of our household chores!
 

Pomgolian

Kiwi Brummie Admin' Team
:D I went to the Black Country Museum when I was over in the UK in 1986 and it was a real treat, glad to hear that it still is a good place to visit. Treated my son to the Faggots and Pea dinner there that they had on the menu, he thought the meal was great and still tells people here about it (Rod was kind enough to post a recipe for said meal) - My Brother – in - law's mother was one of the people who dressed in period costume to show visitors around back then.
I have seen some pic’s of the outside of the restored house before they were open to the public

I walked through the entry into the yard, (as the properties were not yet open to the public, I have to thank a lovely young lady from the National Trust who gave me a mini guided tour after I applied my considerable Brummie charm :)).
Curtsey of Dave of the https://brummages.blogspot.com/ Site, but he was not allowed to take Pic’s inside the houses at that time.

I thought that it sounded like a great project, but if they lack authenticity that is a little sad and would not portray the real lifestyle of the time. My memory is of; Neglect of buildings ‘by landlords’ poverty, overcrowding but not always squalor. Many women and their children worked tirelessly to keep the space both inside and out side these dwelling to as clean and as safe as possible given what they had (or did not have). All the B/B houses we lived in were owned by private landlords and were just as John described them, in most cases the factory owners owned the houses in their area, so they paid your wage with one hand and took a good proportion of it back with the other, these houses in the most part were not owned by the local council until around the late 40’s - mid 1950’s (I remember our's changing hands and the rent was put up by the council) when all the redevelopememnt started in Birmingham. :)
 
R

Rod

Guest
A quarter of Birmingham's residents used to live in back to back houses. After the 'slum clearance' in the 1960s, these properties are the only ones which escaped the demolition.

Along with John Houghton, I have quite a strong opinion as to what a slum is and isn't. But to make my point......... If the Hinge Street Back To Backs were classed as slums, then conjour that up in the minds eye? Badly Built housing produced quickly to house as many families as possible. Does the project currently reflect that picture that your imagining? Please do not miss the point I'm trying to make. I'm not saying the inhabitants would be dirty, or living in squalor. That may have been a truth with some? What I'm saying is this, are the conditions, the state of these properties, do they really have that feel about them ??.

01.jpg


Picture Link From

https://www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/your_birmingham/index.shtml
 

Pomgolian

Kiwi Brummie Admin' Team
:D No intention to offend anyone on the forum! However I have to say after viewing the pic’s on the site Rod put in his last post on the thread, that is not the way I remember the interior of the B/B’s in that area of Birmingham in the 1950’s and yes we did live in that area for a time as my sister attended Rea St School for a while. So unless there was a very drastic change in the economics of the area the set ups are just that a set-up;

1850s house: downstairs room. It's set for dinner, with the Hebrew prayer book ready to be read from before the meal.
1870s house: making scones on the kitchen table
Newspaper dated "Wednesday August 18 1915" in the top room of the 1930s house, which was used, for storage
1930s house: coins and a bankbook on the mantelpiece
1930s house: squashed mouse in the pantry
1930s house: main bedroom
Back to Backs on Hurst Street

1)We were lucky to have a full set of matching crockery let alone a set of ‘Willow Pattern China’
2)Where’s the milk bottle rolling pin?
3)Who had a room in the house just for storage? The families I knew could hardly fit into the house themselves and never had anything to store unless it was at ‘Uncles’ (pawn shop) for a while.
4)Bankbook what was that? And who ever had that much money at any one time to leave lying around?
5)Mice in the pantry? Our food went straight from the shop to the kitchen and then into our bellies. No mouse traps in our house - no food no mice easy!
6)Where are the coats? The ones that were put on the bed to keep us warm and what are that jug and bowl at the side of the bed for? “Having a wash†you say – Don’t they have a perfectly good kitchen sink in these houses?
7)Hurst St – In my dreams maybe! (Some people may have lived like that, but not the vast majority who lived in Back – to – Backs not in my day anyway).
The painting at this site are much closer to reality
https://www.studioarts.co.uk/tomdodson/tdprints/tdprintmonday.htm
 

Oisin

gone but not forgotten
Some great prints there, Pom. :lol: Very much put me in mind of Lowry. They are truly more accurate portrayal of everyday life as it was. :)
 
R

Rod

Guest
As far as I'm concerned the look of the project is akin to something from the "Changing Rooms" TV series. The only picture I have so far viewed that looks like how our Aston home looked is the Time Capsule picture.
 

Oisin

gone but not forgotten
jennyann,

I've just checked some photos I took before the project was completed (I think I sent a coupleto Rod). On them the corner sweet shop has "A Bingham" above the door. :?

I can only surmise that Candies, a modern confectionary retail outlet, has sponsored the project and now has the franchise. Perhaps Kenh can throw more light on this.
 

jennyann

Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.
Staff member
Candies

Thanks Paul. I suppose it would be unrealistic to think that the project designers would have considered an old fashioned sweetshop type place. I expect Candies is one with a modern marketing approach? I was in Brum a couple of months ago but didn't go down that way to check the project out.

Growing up we all loved those tobacconists/sweetshop/newsagents places to spend our meagre allowances in and buy things like pencils, crayons, Quink Ink and Cloy paste for school homework projects. There are, of course, some shops like that around but not many.

A really special one I found is in Walsall at 29 Bridge Street in the town centre. It's called "The Chocolate Box" and walking into it takes you back decades. It's totally original and sells Tobacco and Confectionery. I bought Pineapple Rock and Pear Drops.
 

SuBee

master brummie
Back to back

I have just being having a conversation with my sons girlfriend. She and a friend went around the restored back to back houses recently. They thoroughly enjoyed it. She was with a party of three sisters and their husbands - 5 of these people lived in back to back housing, in the Hurst St area. There are annual reunions for the people who lived in these back to backs.She tells me that the tour included a lot of talk about conditions that were not obvious. Ken would confirm this - but she felt the tour was necessary for safety reasons, due to the small rooms and the very narrow stairs. The three sisters that she was with, loved the restoration and the memories that it bought back to them. They also pointed out that they knew of others that lived in back to backs that were different in that they were larger in size and had gardens. But felt that overall the restoration gave a general view on how back to backs were. Stories were shared between the guides and the visitors and there was a sharing of life experiences - coats on beds, bugs coming out of the walls, the quantity of people living in them, soapboxes making makeshift sinks etc..........going to a neighbours house for a singsong.
Some of the restoration could not be authentic due to health and safety, this is pointed out on the tour..ie: there is no 'blind wall' - due to the main reason these were demolished in the first place - ventilation/lack of light etc.........
Interestingly, The National Trust are looking for people who have lived in back to back houses to train as tour guides.
 

Pomgolian

Kiwi Brummie Admin' Team
:D Sue glad to hear another view, as I said I can only go by the images that I see on the computer - Perhaps the trust could rase a little money from the takings and hang one or two of the prints from the Tom Dodson site on the walls inside the houses :idea:
 

SuBee

master brummie
Snapshots of the past

The prints are lovely Pom and it might be a very good suggestion to email to The National Trust?

Poms link to the prints made me think about another point that may be relative to this thread - the houses on the tour are restored in 'snapshots' of their long lives. The house with the blue crockery on the table (see Jennyanns link to the site) is portraying a back to back that a Jewish family resided in - the blue stencils on the wall were faintly found under wallpaper that was removed during restoration (I am told) - there used to be wallpaper tax???

The portrayal of the Tailors back to back is a more recent snapshot - restored to when a West Indian Taylor worked and resided there. One of the last resident to leave I believe??

Ken could perhaps confirm/clarify this info?

I hope to view these houses personally, and would love to take my Mom and Aunt - as they have thier own memories too of back to backs. Unfortunately, the stairs are very narrow and steep and I know they would struggle.
 

gingerjon

master brummie
Wallpaper appeared in the 15th century when the designs imitated fabrics and textiles. From 1645, it was used as a cheap alternative to tapestries, and was widely-used by the 17th century. At the end of the 17th century, hand-painted papers were imported from China. The standard size of a roll has always been 22 inches wide by 36 feet long. Flock wallpaper appeared around 1715. In 1712, a tax was imposed on wallpaper – this was introduced to finance the War of Spanish Succession – but it was retained until 1836. Anaglypta embossed wallpaper appeared in 1887; see Dado

Dado
A skirting – about 1 yard wide – along the lower part of an interior wall, often decorated with arcading or panelling.
From the 19th century, domestic examples were often represented by anaglypta wal
War of the Spanish Succession
[1701-1714] War with Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Denmark – the Allies – against France, Spain, and Bavaria. It was caused by Louis XIV's acceptance of the Spanish throne on behalf of his grandson, Philip, in defiance of the Partition Treaty of 1700, under which it would have passed to Archduke Charles of Austria (later the Holy Roman emperor Charles VI).
In 1704, the French marched on Vienna to try to end the war, but were defeated at the Battle of Blenheim by the Duke of Marlborough and Eugene of Savoy. In 1705, the Allies invaded Spain, twice occupying Madrid but failing to hold it. On 23 May 1706, Marlborough was victorious over the French (under Villeroi) at Ramillies, in Brabant, Belgium. On 30th June-11th July 1708, Marlborough and Eugene were victorious over the French (under the Duke of Burgundy and Vendome) at Oudenaarde (near Ghent, Belgium). On 11th September 1709, Marlborough was victorious with Eugene over the French (under Villars) at Malplaquet.

Peace was made in 1713, by the Treaty of Utrecht, and, in 1714, by the Treaty of Rastatt under which the Allies recognized Philip as King of Spain, thus founding the Spanish branch of the Bourbon dynasty. Britain received Gibraltar, Minorca, and Nova Scotia; and Austria received Belgium, Milan, and Naples.
lpaper
 
K

kenh

Guest
thank you Sue for your encouraging remarks.This is what our tours are trying to achieve and our gut feeling is that we are succeeding
the tailor was George Saunders since 1974 He was from St. Kitts and he was the last to move out in 2001 and left all his equipment and materials to the National Trust.We find our lady visitors particularly interested in his 3 rooms.
Incidentally I have found another unique old sweet and tobacco shop in Halesowen No 11 Hagley Rd called Heart of England Blends
Lots of old apparatus and packets connected with these trades
Finally the stairs-we anticipated lots of problems but have been pleasantly suprised The oldest man I have taken round was 95 and coped with all 12!! flights. I'm suggesting we have some badges made---I've conquered the back to backs!! The main problem is ladies who come round after shopping in the Bull Ring with lots of bags as we haven't any left luggage space
There is also a virtual tour room for those who can only do the ground floor rooms In there they can watch a 10 minute film for each of the houses
 

jennyann

Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.
Staff member
Blue Badge Guide

Hi Ken

Just wondering if you know Ian Jelf, one of Birmingham's leading Blue Badge guides. Reason being is that he guides many parties all over Birmingham
and areas within the 50 mile "Day out Tourist Attraction" circle around Birmingham. He also conducts tours of London, Germany and France. He is
fluent in French so that would be helpful for French people interested in touring the houses when they visit Brum. I noticed that a photo of him is on the first page of the Virtual Birmingham web pages.

He would more than likely have brought people to the Houses Restored project. I last saw him in May in Vancouver when he was doing the Canadian Rockies tour with his fiancee, so I am not sure whether he has been
involved with the National Trust project at Hurst Street as yet.
 
K

kenh

Guest
replies for Diana and Jennyann
I do a couple of days at the back to backs and 4 tours each day.we dont have a set rota but the booking office could probably tell you when I am on.If you can speak to Anna the property manager and pass your phone no to her for me i could give you a ring I am on this Sunday so you could try phoning and ask to speak to me
Jennyann- Ian is one of my colleages and its no suprise to hear of his international reputation!! He is doing the b to bs with me on Sept 9 with our local blue badge guides did you know he has a web site
[email protected]

best wishes ladies
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
I have to liaise with my sister as to when we come to Birmingham Ken, I will ring once I have some probable dates.

Regards Di
 

Pomgolian

Kiwi Brummie Admin' Team
:D Hi Ken if the trust, or even the very kind members of this forum 8) got together and paid my fare :wink: I would be only too willing to come over to Brum for six months and take guided tours around the houses, after I am a genuine dinosaur of the area. :lol: :lol:
Luv to you all :)
 

SuBee

master brummie
A DEAL ON THE TABLE?

Pom - I have just found out that I have an Aunt (Dads sister) who emigrated to New Zealand, who I havent met. My mom is in the process of writing and making contact with her.

Solution to our stories?..............A House Swap? :lol:

PS - Ken, unless there are more than one guide with your name - you took my son's g/f on the tour! She was mightily impressed.
 

Oisin

gone but not forgotten
Sorry to harp on about it, but we still haven't got to the bottom of the sweet shop not keeping it's, if not original name, the last one it had before restoration.

Any idea, Ken?
 
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