Heading off to Birmingham this weekend, a friend and I decided to check out a sight I had been meaning to visit for quite some time. Right in the centre of Birmingham is a trip back in time, full of tin baths and old-fashioned sweets. Book in on the tour and you’ll find out everything from what a ‘gazunda’ is to exactly how many people you can really fit in a ‘two-bedroom’ house.
Getting to the Back to Backs
The easiest way to visit Birmingham Back to Backs is by train. Just a short walk from both Birmingham New Street train station and Birmingham Moor Street, it is incredibly easy to get to for those visiting for the day. Braver souls can drive in and park at a nearby car park but parking tends to be expensive.
A Step Back in Time
Starting our tour, our guide Carl quickly got into some eye-opening facts about Birmingham living. With the last residents leaving in the 1970s, the houses have been completely restored by the National Trust to three different time frames, based on the real people who lived there.
Entering the first house, we found, hand-painted wallpaper substitutes, a clock hand-maker’s work desk and some usual sleeping setups. Next was an eye-maker and even a bachelor locksmith. The last stop was a master tailor from St. Kitts before stepping out to the yard for a meet-and-greet with back to back life.
With evening tours by candlelight, the National Trust’s Back to Back’s give you a glimpse of what living in these buildings would have really been like. Without electricity and windows on only one side of the building, they wouldn’t have been the brightest of places. Check out their website for events throughout the year including a walkthrough of how they are protecting the inimitable George Saunders’ collection at the property. You can even get a chance to make your own rag rug!
Top Tips for Visiting the back-to-Backs
- Be sure to book in advance, places fill up very quickly.
- Head to the Hippodrome for the nearest signposted landmark. The Back to Backs are right next to them.
- If you are a National Trust member, you’ll get in free! You will still need to book on to the tour in advance though!
- Once you have checked in at the front, head to the sweet shop to start your tour.
- Be prepared for steep stairs. There are plenty of handrails so be sure to use them!
- Make sure you don’t miss the inside of the sweet shop, full of everything from sugar mice to fudge and pick and mix, it is full of sweet treats from back in the day.
If You’re in the Area…
Check out these other National Trust spots: