A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 43




A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 43

Having gone down the stairs from George Saunders’ attic we will find, straight ahead of us, his first-floor workshop. When his lease expired in 2001 he decided to retire and walked away from his Hurst Street shop. He handed his keys over the Birmingham Conservation Trust who were masterminding the restoration. They were told that there was nothing in there that he wanted and, knowing they were going to make it into a museum, they could use whatever they needed. All the items that George left for us to see in the previous room, this one and the next constitute the Back-to-Backs Heritage Collection, and for that reason nothing here should be touched.  

So, in here we will see some of the items that George left behind, including a very complicated button hole making machine and a steam press. There are also a number of garments that were never collected by their future owners when George closed his business and we can see a few that were still in the process of being made.

Hanging on the wall are pieces of brown paper and these are cut into patterns for certain customers. The paper had arrived here as wrapping for the bales of cloth that George would have used to make the suits. He “recycled” the brown paper – long before the word would come into common usage.

Hanging up in here is what looks like white trousers. These are actually made from leather and they are riding breeches, ordered for the Queen’s Horse Guards. This pair is one left over from the original order.

George Saunders’ First Floor workshop – note the brown paper patterns on the wall
George Saunders’ First Floor workshop – the white riding breeches are on the left
George Saunders’ button hole sewing machine
The Queen’s Horse Guards with white breeches