Back-to-backs were once the commonest form of housing in England, home to the majority of working people in Victorian cities, but they have now almost entirely vanished from our urban townscape. Author Ted Rudge, who is a National Trust guide at the Birmingham back-to-backs in Hurst Street, has collected many personal stories from people who grew up in these infamous houses. For some, it was a harsh life, cramped and overcrowded, but it was also a place where life-long friendships and relationships were made. This unique approach of telling the story through oral history, before these stories are forgotten, will be a shock to many modern people who are completely oblivious that these living conditions were standard across much of the country. What was it like to live in a house with one bedroom and no running water? How did eleven families share two toilets? The rise and fall of the back-to-back is a sobering tale of how our nation houses its people, and illuminates the story of the development of urban housing.
Ted Rudge was born in Birmingham at the start of the Second World War and received a secondary modern education before commencing employment at fifteen years of age. Following a working life with British Telecom, retirement brought higher education opportunities with the University of Birmingham gaining a degree in Philosophy and a Master’s degree in West Midlands History. The author of three books and co-author of six more detailing the changes within Birmingham’s inner districts, Rudge is happily married for over fifty years with a son, daughter and two grandchildren.
Mac Joseph has worked with Ted on a number of projects. He co-authored Birmingham Up Town Through Time in 2013.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Extent: 128 pages
Illustrations: 51 black-and-white photographs