A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 14



A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 14

We can see that by the time this photograph was taken in 1953 all the houses in Hurst Street had become shops. In the background is the Hippodrome Theatre with the ornate tower built by owners the Draysey Brothers when the theatre opened almost 100 years after the first house in Court 15 was built. On the opposite corner is Arthur Bingham’s sweet shop that we heard about earlier (in part 3).

Next door (nearer to the camera) is a pair of shops with a newsagent’s business owned by Mannie Gorfunkle. Mannie was a Jewish refugee and it was said that he would scare the local children as he had a rather alarming twitch, bought on the mistreatment he suffered at the hands of the Nazis during World War 2.

Prior to Mannie having the newsagent’s shop the business was owned by a John Hunt, and we’ll hear about John and his family later in our tour. Mannie’s business lasted here until 1974 when the premises became a tailor’s shop.

If we look nearer to the camera again we see a shop that was at the time owned by Anne Read. This was a general grocery store selling tea, bacon & sugar, but it was known locally as “The Custard Shop”. It is said that Anne made the best egg custard in Birmingham!

And, finally, the shop nearest to the camera was in fact the offices of Worthington’s – the coach company. Mr Worthington had opened the Birmingham base for his coach company just after WW2 taking over the back to backs next door (Court 2 Hurst Street) and Court 14 Inge Street. He demolished all the houses and he later built a garage bordering our Court 15 on two sides. The fine-looking motor car was Mr Worthington’s and it was said that every morning his chauffer would take him 100 yards up the road to a barber’s shop for him to have a shave!

The building by the car was at one time was a pub called The Black Lion. It was then used as a warehouse by a sawdust dealer and when the photograph was taken it was being used by newspaper wholesalers who were evidently toy merchants.  

But let’s move on!

Hurst Street in 1953 with the Hippodrome in the background and The Black Lion on the left
Advertisement placed by Mannie Gorfunkle from the local newspaper c1951 – note the “Mezzuzoth” on sale for five shillings
Worthington’s in Hurst Street in 1950 – This is the entrance before the erection of the single-story booking office seen in the previous photograph – Court 15 Inge Street is on the right
Worthington’s garage in Inge Street – Court 15 can be seen to the left