A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 47




A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 47

Having successfully reached the foot of our final flight of spiral stairs we find ourselves in George Saunders’ shop.

George came to Birmingham from St Kitts in the West Indies in 1958, and may be regarded as one of the “Windrush generation” who came to the UK to help the mother country recover from the ravages of the Second World War. He did not actually travel on the “Empire Windrush” which was the first ship to bring West Indies immigrants to the UK in 1948.

The ship, HMT Empire Windrush, was built in Germany under the Nazi regime and taken over by the British at the end of the war. It caught fire and sank in the Mediterranean in 1954.

George, an experienced tailor, learnt his trade from his father, and had a number of jobs in Birmingham including one at a biscuit factory, and another with a firm of tailors. He established his own tailoring business in Balsall Heath before opening his shop in Hurst Street in 1974. His reputation eventually spread far and wide. He had many orders from folk in London including a wedding suit for entertainer Marti Caine. He had the order for white leather riding breeches for the Queen’s Horse Guards, one of which still sits in his workshop. He also had a large order for school uniforms for a school in Lybia.

George Saunders has the distinction of being the last person to leave Court 15 in 2001 when he retired and before restoration started. George came at the end of a long line of Court 15 tailors that goes back to the 19th century and Thomas Williams (see part 4).

George’s own words briefly describe his years in Birmingham (click HERE).

George subsequently gave a lot of his time and expertise to the Back-to-Backs, but sadly passed away in October 2015.

So, when you’ve heard George, we’ll go out through the door at the back of the shop, into a narrow entry and out into the courtyard once more.

George Saunders’ shop
HMT Empire Windrush – postcard from 1948
HMT Empire-Windrush stern – 1948
CLICK HERE – George Saunders’ memories
The narrow entry from George Saunders’ shop leading into the courtyard