A “Virtual” Tour of The Back to Backs – part 51




A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 51

Before we leave the brew’us, we’ll just take a moment to look more closely at the Dolly and the Posser. Or Posher!

As we can see from the photographs, the dolly is made from wood and it would be used to agitate the washing by rotating it in the water.

However, the posser is metal (usually copper) and us used by pumping it up and down in the washing water. The word “posser” is a Brummie word and if you wonder where the name came from maybe you could consider the sound that the posser/POSHER would make when pumped up and down. “Posher – posher – posher …..”

But let’s leave these implements behind as we now we go into the corner of the courtyard to take a look at the privies ….. a fitting, lavatorial end to our virtual tour!

We can see that there are three privies shared between the 11 families living in court 15. So as a family you would be sharing one of these with another 3 or 4 families. Each privy would have a locked door and the keys would be shared between the families allocated to each privy. This was to prevent anyone walking in off the street and using your privy. The toilets were locked – the houses rarely were!

The first privy (on the left) relates to the 1840s house (where the Levy family lived). The second relates to the Oldfield’s 1870s house, and the third one is where we store our wheelie bins, so we’ll ignore that one!

The 1840s were a time before piped water and drainage reached most of the population, so Adelaide would find plenty more work to do here that inevitably involved buckets. Imagine that we lived out in the country, in a nice little cottage. To provide a toilet we would dig a hole put a seat over it and all the wee and poo went into the hole. In the end it would just soak away and disappear. If it didn’t we’d simply dig another hole, and so on. You couldn’t have folk in a town digging holes everywhere so to capture the wee and poo a bucket was used – this is where Adelaide came in!

A Dolly similar to those in Court 15
Another Posser
Court 15 – The three privies in the corner
Privy over a hole in the ground (with a lovely crescent moon on the door)