This was one of my "must-sees" on a trip to Birmingham, as my father lived in a back-to-back when he was a child and I really wanted to see what they were like. I am so glad we went, as the experience of actually standing in the rooms and seeing the confined space and living conditions really helped me to understand the stories he used to tell me.
We booked a tour, as advised on the website, and as we arrived a few minutes early, we visited the small exhibition above the National Trust shop, which gave us a little background information on the area. However, it was the guided tour itself which made the visit such an excellent one. The guide was knowledgeable and friendly and presented us with huge amounts of information in a way that didn't feel at all overwhelming or lecturing. Our group were all middle-aged, which was quite entertaining, as we could all remember seeing or using some of the objects on display when we were younger, so we all felt rather like museum exhibits ourselves by the end. The whole tour was thoughtfully designed and made me feel that I had a real idea of the lifestyles of the previous inhabitants of the properties.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone, but you do need to be able to negotiate the very steep, narrow spiral staircases. There are handrails and you are not rushed up or down them, but everyone in our party commented on how difficult it must have been to climb them in dim light when carrying a baby, for example. I am glad to report that we all made it out unscathed.
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