Author Topic: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'  (Read 56475 times)

mazbeth

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Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« on: February 19, 2008, 11:08:01 AM »
This was briefly referred to on the Aston Park thread by sh and Phil, but thought it needed a thread of it's own for easier reference...just been back through the 7 or so pages here and can't find one.

I was very pleased to find a picture of the very back to back that my granddad, (Martin Brislin) was born in, (or at least the front one).
His parents were Thomas and Bridget, who came from Ireland with Thomas's mother, Mary, (widow?) probably in the 1840's during the time of the potato famine.

I had this information from a census


79 Page 1365, Bk Of 72 Staniforth Street, 1,Thomas Brislin, Head,M,48,,Bricklayer's Labourer,Employed,\- Ireland,,
,,,Bridget Brislin,Wife,M,,44,Button Cutter,Employed,\- Ireland,,
,,,Mary Ann Brislin,Dau,S,,17,Warehouse Girl,Employed,Birmingham Warwickshire,,
,,,Elizabeth Brislin,Dau,,,15,Glove Button Closer,Employed,Birmingham Warwickshire,,
,,,Catherine Brislin,Dau,,,12,Scholar,,Birmingham Warwickshire,,
,,,Edward Brislin,Son,,9,,Scholar,,Birmingham Warwickshire,,
,,,Martin Brislin,Son,,1,,,,Birmingham Warwickshire,,
66,73 Staniforth Street,1,Patrick Brislin,Head,M,60,,Bricklayer,Employed,\- Ireland,,
,,,Eliza Brislin,Wife,M,,50,Hawker,Neither,\- Lancashire,,
,,,Lizzie Brislin,Dau,S,,22,Brass Polisher,Employed,Birmingham Warwickshire,,
,,,Annie Roddy,Niece,S,,38,Press Button Maker,Employed,Birmingham Warwickshire,,
,,,Ellen Roddy,Niece,,,10,Scholar,,Birmingham Warwickshire,,

and then found this on a B'ham website showing that 72 Staniforth St. was still used in the 1960's.

Joys of living back-to-back-By Carl Chinn

72 Staniforth St


Mrs Barbara Chambers and her four-year-old daughter Helena are looking out the window whilst her two year old daughter Zeena is watched over by a neighbour, Mrs Vincent, at 72 Staniforth Street in the early 1960s.
Let those that love us, love us. And those that don't, may God turn their hearts. And, if He cannot turn their hearts, May He turn their ankles so we may know them by their limping!- Irish blessing

Phil

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2008, 01:54:52 PM »
To continue on in the theme set by mazbeth, my experience of living in a back to back house was very short compared to those that spent their whole life living in one.

We moved into Francis St Nechells in 1953 , My mother, stepfather, sister and brother.  The house fronted the road and had two entrance doors in to the one and only room on the ground floor one fronting the road and one in the entry at the side that led up the back yard. I could never see the sense of 2 doors other than it saved a bit of brickwork. This room was about 10ft x 10ft and contained a fifties type concrete fire grate covered in cream tiles. A black cast iron city of Birmingham gas stove with four rings an oven and a grill. Hanging from the ceiling was a solitary light fitting and on the front wall was the only single plug socket in the whole house.

On the rear wall were two doors, one led to the scullery with its Belfast sink and a solitary tap for cold water, this also had a single light fitting. The only means of heating water was on the gas stove. This scullery also served as the cellar head which led down to the cellar, used for the storage of coal, wood etc. The other door led to the two bedrooms upstairs the one bedroom possessed another solitary light fitting, and the other still had gas lighting.

The back yard contained 8 more houses, 2 wash houses and 5 toilets and a lean to for the bins refuse and pig food bins these were all for communal use.

So this is where we lived all five of us, that soon became six then seven. Eight and nine didnít arrive until my mother moved to a slightly bigger house. That still didnít discourage my stepfather from inviting his three teenage sisters to come over from Ireland to live with us. That was the end of my experiences of living in a back to back as I moved out the day they arrived from Ireland.

The attached photo shows a house in the back yard next to ours in Francis St, so out house would have fronted a house very similar to this about four doors down the road. In fact I think a mate of mine called Graham lived in the house that the lady stand outside of, much later of course. (notice the miskin outside the back window)


Phil
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Phil

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2008, 03:45:27 PM »
Continuing further along this theme, here is an outline plan of a 14 house Court. Although it gives no measurement, I would think the entire space taken up would not be enough to build 3 modern terrace houses.

Phil
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mazbeth

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2008, 04:56:33 PM »
yes, I remember them kind of 'courts' on Burlington St. (Aston) up near Newtown Row....

and my uncle, aunt and cousins lived in a back to back on Upper Thomas St. (Aston)
Our house (Parliament St.) wasn't a back to back but it was demolished as a slum in '69.
Let those that love us, love us. And those that don't, may God turn their hearts. And, if He cannot turn their hearts, May He turn their ankles so we may know them by their limping!- Irish blessing

Andy Capp

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2008, 06:53:30 PM »
HI ALL
CARL CHINN AS BOUGHT OUT A GOOD DVD ABOUT BACK TO BACK HOUSES. VERY INTERESTING VIEWING. BROUGHT BACK A LOT OF MEMORIES. ANDY CAPP

denise

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2008, 03:03:09 PM »
I can remember my aunt living in a back to back in Ladywood.It must have been close to the old children's hospital as mum and I used to walk there from visting the hospital.This was in the sixties.
I remember her so called kitchen was a tiny little alcove affair with a cooker in itI remember the bedroom windows seem very low and feeling a bit unsafe standing next to them.
You had to walk down an alley to get to her house where houses were arranged around a courtyard.

Phil

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2008, 03:21:44 PM »
denise

I suppose it looked a little like this photo of a Ladywood Back Terrace.  This one was in St Marks St and went out with a young girl who lived in one of these houses for a while.

Phil
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denise

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2008, 03:26:56 PM »
Yes Phil,just like that. :)Great Photo. :)

mazbeth

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2008, 04:32:38 PM »
you know - even though the houses were tiny, and no decent kitchen or any bathroom, and no private garden, just looking at that picture made me think that it was good for the kids in one way...in that the courtyard was safe for the kids to gather and play in together...unlike the roads outside many houses that kids play on now.

I vaguely remember my cousins playing in the courtyard on Upper Thomas St. with some other kids..
and the ones I mentioned on Burlington St. I, myself, played ball against the walls with some kids that I was at school with, one of whom lived in a house in the courtyard...my first 'boyfriend' (when I was about 7) ;D
Let those that love us, love us. And those that don't, may God turn their hearts. And, if He cannot turn their hearts, May He turn their ankles so we may know them by their limping!- Irish blessing

denise

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2008, 12:31:35 AM »
Yes I see what you mean about somewhere safe for the kids to play.

We live in a close.A bit like a goldfish bowl really as we are all overlooking each other but the kids can play safely as they can be seen  :)

Mother_Goose

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Re: Birmingham 'Back To Backs'
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2008, 09:02:37 PM »
I was one of the last to move out of the back to backs in William St Lozells. Back in the 1950's my dad inherited the property from his parents. It was not council owned and he never paid rent. It was 'given' to his father by the landlord because it needed repairs and that would cost more than the return on investment. So for 10 years my parents enjoyed a rent free period - replaced the fireplace range with a modern tiled fireplace - moved the cooker into the pantry- had electric lights installed - replacing gas ones etc. Anyway in 1962 the house was compulsorily purchased by the council. The recipients of the money for the purchase were some relatives of the original landlord who had long since gone and suddenly our family were forced to pay 17shillings a week rent. With 7 kids this had a severe impact on our financial circumstances and caused great hardship. Had my parents been wiser then probably they could have fought this action but instead they accepted that the authorities were acting within their rights.