Outing to Birmingham - Wednesday 10th October 2018  


We could not have had a more beautiful day on which to travel up to Birmingham.   On arrival at the International Conference Centre in the heart of the city we enjoyed coffee in various venues before boarding the Jericho narrow boat for a cruise on the canals, which brought commercial life to Birmingham over 200 years ago.  With the sun shining and an interesting commentary on the history of the various bridges and buildings and of the horse drawn past we enjoyed a very comfortable and pleasant morning. 

Back on dry land we had different options.  Some of us went to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery where we had a very good lunch in the Edwardian Tea Rooms which are super and very evocative of the Edwardian era.  Others found various other eating-places, which abound.  There was then an interesting walk down to the National Trust Back to Backs.   In the centre of the city there is a unique collection of buildings.  Court 15, Inge Street represents one of the last surviving courts of Back-to-Back houses in Britain. For most of the 19th and the early 20th century courts like this were home for the majority of people in the Midlands and North.  Birmingham alone had 20,000 such courts.  They were cheap to build, were often over crowded, poorly maintained and with poor sanitation.   This particular court housed 60 people and was occupied until the last residents moved out in 1967.  It survived because the front houses remained in use as shops.  It has now been restored and we learnt about the lives of the individual families who once lived there. 

The city had immigrants from many parts of the world as well as Welsh and rural areas moving to find work provided by the industrial revolution. What the new residents gained in income and job opportunities they would often lose in terms of health and life expectancy.  I think we were all touched by the way of life these families had and the fact that they were probably about the same age as many of our grandparents.  It was not long ago.  The history of the individual families is really fascinating and we were blessed with excellent guides who took us round in small groups.  They must have had to be pretty agile to climb up the steep stairs of these thin three storied dwellings.  

Many had time to buy bags of old time sweets from the NT sweet shop or grab a quick cuppa before boarding the coach.  Darren our driver enjoyed 1/4lb of rhubarb and custards as he drove us back to our comfortable 21st century homes!   

Thank you Caroline for arranging such a "different" and enjoyable day.