Carl Chinn Writes Article for Birmingham Mail: No-frills living in city back-to-backs


Well known Birmingham historian, Carl Chinn MBE, chair of Community History at the University of Birmingham, has written the first of three articles for the Birmingham Mail.

The first article discusses the back-to-back housing struggle which plighted the city of Birmingham from the early 1800’s right up until the 1960’s .

Back-to-back and up the yard was the lived experience of hundreds of thousands of Brummies ..

Back-to-back housing was built to maximize the amount of dwellings as quickly as possible on a very small piece of land, resulting in the literal back to back terraces.

The environment was hostile and harmful to health, conditions of which led the housing to become known as ‘slums’. This phrase not only  reveals the  lack of empathy shown by officials and outsiders at the time; it also catalyzed the forging of close-knit neighborhoods in a battle for respectability.

An old lady mangling her washing outside her back-to-back

An old lady mangling her washing outside her back-to-back

Two boys walking between buildings waiting to be demolished.

Two boys walking between buildings waiting to be demolished.

Even today, nearly every Brummie from a working class background has somebody from the family who grew up in a back-to-back.

To read Carl Chinn’s full article in the Birmingham Mail CLICK HERE 

Carl Chinn has also provided commentary for MACE’s DVD Regenerating Birmingham, the sixth release in our DVD series, Midlands on Film, which celebrates the Midlands through moving images. You can learn more about the collection HERE

If you would like purchase a copy of Regenerating Birmingham, it is available on DVD at £14.99 plus £1.50 P&P (£16.49)

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