It has been my experience and probably that of my parent’s generation too, that domestic toilets were normally indoors. Many of the houses built in Hagley during the 1930’s had an integral toilet but which was entered from outside. However, as a child I can just recall visiting an uncle who lived in rural Shropshire who had an old house with stone flagged floors and no indoor toilet. His family used a ‘privy’ at the bottom of the garden which when built would have been regarded as state of the art and a great improvement on what went before.
And so it was, as we were told by our speaker this month Derek Clarke, that when the Birmingham Back to Backs in Inge Street were built in 1801 they were provided with three privies and two wash houses to cater for the needs of up to 100 people. As most of the neighbours both lived and worked at home these shared facilities made for a very close knit community. Both men and women were skilled craftspeople and were involved in metal, glass, wood and leather work. We know that there was a widow who worked as a pearl button driller and one Herbert Oldfield, a glass eye maker. The last remaining example of a Back to Back in Birmingham belongs to the National Trust and can be visited by appointment.
Our next meeting at St Saviour’s Church Hall is on Tuesday 2nd May 2017 at 8.00pm. It is our annual Social Evening. There will be the usual refreshments followed by a presentation by member Eric Greenwood entitled “A Voyage Around My Grandfather – A Chauffeur’s Tale”. Visitors are most welcome at all our events but on this occasion tickets must be purchased in advance – see hhfs.org.uk for details and contacts.