The National Trust is not renowned for its ownership of working class properties or examples of places where the middle and lower class would congregate. In fact, it has been deeply criticised for not increasing this amount or making the most of its servant’s quarters in its stately homes, preferring to focus on the more opulent elements. To be fair to the Trust it has tried to increase its focus on the downstairs rather than the upstairs but it usual finds that the public would prefer the posh stuff. It has made a major commitment to the preservation and financial protection of the Birmingham Back to Backs. What makes this so special?
The Back to Backs are just one of the many exciting things to see in Birmingham and the city does warrant a longer stay to enjoy them and its nightlife. They are a 12-minute stroll from Waterloo Street home of some of the finest examples of a Serviced Apartment Birmingham has to offer. Why not look at this option instead of a hotel look at http://www.8waterloostreet.co.uk/serviced-apartments-birmingham-city-centre.html.
Suffice to say the Back to Backs are a far cry from the opulent serviced apartment. This are working people’s houses. These dwellings were where they lived whilst they worked in the cities many industry’s at the turn of the century. The houses were built just before, in 1840, and the crammed conditions were said to invoke a strong community spirit.
It was likely that the men would work together at several local places. These could be the textiles and metals manufacturing. Some skilled metal workers may well have worked from home. Women were generally left at home to tend, and work as hard, keeping the small house tidy in the never-ending drudge of housework. As with the men they would join to natter and discuss the daily events. Due to the nature of the closely built buildings it is said that nothing escapes the gaze or attention of them and all were children were under there watchful protection and scrutiny. The Back to Backs had a communal courtyard where play and washing would happen simultaneously. These are the last surviving examples, the rest demolished after being deemed unsanitary
The Trust have attempted to recreate this to by ensuring that the houses are kept as they would have been with fires in the grate and the smells associated with the time. They also have memorabilia and antiques around so that visitor can catch a glimpse for a time when the simple things were still hard to come by in this poor working-class area.
The site is open all year round but is only available to view via guided tour due to its size.