A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 42




A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 42

Before looking closely at the wallpaper, we’d notice a pair of trousers on a tailor’s dummy and a matching jacket. It appears that shortly after opening, a visitor said that his wedding suit was a George Saunders’ original. The trousers were fashioned with bell bottoms, as they would have been in the 1970s, but the jacket was never worn – it was too hot. It was made from a thick green velvet material, and the day of the wedding happened to be in the middle of July – on the hottest day of the year. He donated his wedding suit to the Back to Backs. 

Now let’s turn back to the wallpaper. When the restoration was taking place here in court 15 it was fortunate that Cath Kitson had chosen the “cowboy” design for one of her wallpapers, so there was a ready supply.

The decorators took a great amount of trouble to hang the wallpaper in here on the freshly plastered walls. However, they were horrified, a few days later, to come into the room to find a hole had been created in the ceiling and strong black coffee poured down the wall beneath it to give the impression of a hole in the roof and a damp stain.

There is, however, another connection between Hurst Street and Roy Rogers. On Monday the 1st of March 1954, Roy Rogers started a one week run of his stage show at the Hippodrome Theatre across the road. With him on stage were his horse, Trigger, his wife, Dale Evans, and a cast that included the Whipporwills! Roy and Dale stayed at the Queens Hotel that fronted New Street Station, and Trigger was billeted at the M&B Brewery Stables at Cape Hill, said to be the best stables in Brum at the time. The shows were a sell-out and I can picture the excitement when Trigger came on stage. “A horse on the stage at the Hippodrome” I hear you exclaim. The audience of 2,000 each night must have been thrilled, to the point where their exuberance scared the horse so much – it did a poo on the stage!

So, let’s move on down the stairs to find out more about the shop premises that were once used by George Saunders.

George Saunders’ Top Floor – note the stain on the wall
Roy Rogers – Hippodrome Programme w/c 1st March 1954
Roy Rogers & Trigger signing into the Queens Hotel
Trigger at the M&B brewery stables – 1954
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans at Bird’s Custard Factory in 1954