In early September we decided to treat ourselves to a visit to the National Trust Back to Backs. I remember when the conservation team was working on this project years ago, but have never wondered about its Birmingham location. Funnily enough, this wonderful treasure is something I had stood by a few times whilst gawping into the window of a traditional sweet shop. How funny that I had never known it was there.
Tickets have to be pre-booked and you are taken on a fascinating tour! Once inside the little National Trust Shop, you are taken around the corner and through a locked gate into a courtyard that did not seem to exist until that very moment.
Inside are a row the back to back houses, a wash room and out house and each of the 3 homes your enter is set in a different period. As well as the period set up, they have also researched some of the interesting people who used to live there. From a Jewish clock maker to a man who made glass eyes for taxidermists and people! You can even find an air raid shelter in the first property and also take a glimpse into how the original state of the place before they set to work.
I learnt a huge amount I never knew, such as how arsenic was once used as a green dye for wallpaper, candles and even icing flowers.
Photography is not allowed at the Back to Backs, other than the courtyard area, and there are steep and winding staircases that have to be climbed and descended in each of the properties. Unfortunately my camera ran out of juice before I got to the tailor’s establishment, which was really wonderful. A tailor that set up business in the 1970’s retired in 2001. When he went, he literally left everything, from patterns to bolts of fabric and finished items…it is all still there!
Here are some of the photos I took of this mesmerising place. I will post more when I can. Thank you once again to all the staff who made this visit such a pleasure!