A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 31




A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 31

It was probable that as soon as Thomas Mitchell’s sons were old enough to hold metalworking tools they became apprenticed to their father and joined the lock making business.

Benjamin, Thomas’ second son went on to marry Mary who gave birth to six children, sadly two of these died in infancy.

Benjamin, we found, was part of the Mitchell lock-making empire and must have steered the business to even greater success.

By the time of his death in 1907 he had moved to 359 Rotton Park Road in Edgbaston, a considerable step up the social scale from the crumbling one-hundred-year-old houses and shops in Court 15. In the 1901 census it seemed that Mary & Benjamin also had a live-in servant. In his will he left: “A pianoforte, a gilt carriage clock and a walnut chiffonier.” And an estate valued at £1718.14s.1d. Benjamin can be considered, all told, to have prospered, and able to leave a considerable sum to his offspring.

By this time, he had handed his lock making business to his son George who still lived in Court 15. George was 43 years old when his father died.

He had then continued in the lock making trade for as long as he could, but why, we may ask, did he, with his inherited wealth, continue to spend his retirement in one of these run-down houses? Doubtless the proximity of the workshop was a factor whilst he was working, but with old age presumably having a detrimental effect on his lock making capabilities, was it the comfort of the community spirit that kept George living in the dismal surroundings that he was so familiar with …. or had he drunk and gambled his fortune away?

Rotton Park Road, looking north c1900 – Benjamin Mitchell’s house, no 359, is on the right just beyond the lamp post
359 Rotton Park Road in August 2018
A Victorian Pianoforte
A Victorian Walnut Chiffonier