Victorian build 1 – the yearly ‘think-on-do’



The street is still there, more or less if you’d like to check it out on Google street view (as is the house across the other side of the bottom road visible between our heads)

Terrace house – city living

Until I was eighteen, we’d lived as a family in two late Victorian houses.  First was a terrace and the second a semi.

The terrace was back in the 1940s and early 1950s, with a back street and all the usual bottom of the yard service buildings (wash house, lavatory and coal shed) facing each other, as it were, across the narrow back lane. When I knew the house there was a bathroom, although we kids washed in front of the range in the kitchen/living room, with a towel hanging on a clothes horse curved around the ‘vanny‘ to stop the drafts.  The terrace was built running up the side of a hill, with a cellar underneath where Mum and my eldest sister took shelter during the war.  There were two rooms above it forming the ‘ground’ floor.  Up the dark boxed in stairs it was as if the house had sprouted more space, with the bathroom, a small bedroom, just big enough to squeeze two single beds in, one each side of the little fireplace leaving little room to stand between them or for anything much else in the room, and a larger bedroom over the very rarely used ‘front room’ below.  Until our younger twin sisters arrived requiring a large double pram, I can’t remember ever having seen the front door opened, but there was only a very small step to get down at the front while the back door was up a set of steep steps from the yard.

There were attics too, with the larger of the rooms used as a bedroom plus a box room used by Dad for building radios; I think there was another small space up there, but I can’t remember for sure.  We managed well on the whole considering some of rationing was still around.  Everyone was in the same boat, as it were, more or less, and around us, though often a bit short on space, most folk seemed clean and well cared for, one of the houses up the row had a very small hairdressing set-up in part of the living space (Susan’s mum, Margaret), the rag and bone man and the knife sharpener came round and I think the milkman delivered.  Front steps were yellow-stoned and back yards swept.

It is remarkable for just how long houses built during the late Victorian period, for good or ill, have remained in use.

Mini-ing thoughts

Not sure if I’ve previously shared links to some of the images/sites visited when doing searches into Victorian workers’ housing, but here are a few I thought I’d like to pass on.  Some are Edwardian but mostly they show the houses in use from the 30’s through to quite late in the twentieth century.

A 100 yrs of council housing in Leicester

Birmingham Live

Uni of the West of England – a more recent photo of an old back lane

Mail Online

Astonbrook – a very dilapidated wash house

Birmingham’s back to back housing

Science and Media Museum

Leicester Live

General thoughts on mini-ing

As ever when I hit the problems or am stuck on something I’ve been doing lots of thinking about just what the hecky-thump I think I’m up to and why, spending both money and time mini-ing. Could be one big waste on both fronts!

My pastime is a joke to most folk that I know, but I do find it useful, an aid to memory; a way for me to express myself as waves of thought arise and so I build with whatever’s to hand to the rhythm of these waves.  Mostly any opinions or commentaries built into scenes are known only to me, with the exception of two pieces of work, perhaps, Ms Lear (here and here) on her water-encircled tower howling at the storm and The Time Techs stuffing the printed word into the machine of progress which then churns out cogs and widgets (the text is from Babbage‘s plans for his Difference Engine).

This year’s conclusions

I reckon that, on the whole, I’m mini-ing, getting things wrong and wangling, or even wrangling in some cases, my way out of problems simply because I like problem solving, hacking things about, back-tracking and trying another route — or three. I enjoy working doggedly at whatever’s at hand.

Still, feel the personal benefits go quite some-way to balance off the use of time; though far from sure about any balance achieved re expenditure.


15 responses »

  1. Oh, don’t give up mini-ing just yet! I have loved following your blog and find your creations absolutely wonderful! This post is fascinating and some of the links reminded me of my first job as a housing officer in the late 70’s/early 80’s working the London Borough of Lewisham – not that many of the houses I visited looked like those in the links! How gorgeous you looked in your photo!

      • Well! What a small world! Actually, I think I began working at Lewisham in 1978 at the Lee Green office. However, now I think about it properly I didn’t work as a housing officer until about 1983. In 78 -80 I worked with a woman called Linda Durling and we dealt with old rent arrears mainly from people who had moved away from Lewisham. We wrote letters to their last know addresses and sometimes went out on visits. I loved the work I did later as a housing officer, though I was always being told off for talking to the tenants for too long on visits and being too soft!

  2. It’s my opinion that once you’ve been lured in by the siren’s call of this hobby, that all semblance of reason becomes shipwrecked to it.
    Puzzling over a space problem solution for tiny imaginary people and/or how to terminate a gothic staircase leading to nowhere along with the inordinate amount of time devoted to research and creation, is probably not really “normal behaviour ” for most, and yet entirely understandable to “us”.
    And any balance regarding expenditure, shamelessly lavished on this hobby, IS insane when compared to what we would actually spend or not spend on the same item(s) in full size.
    Even so, the joy and the satisfaction which miniatures bring, and the way in which is exercises our minds, bodies and our emotions; I see as a gift from GOD.
    Your work in particular evokes a style and a consciousness of lives still living whether past or present, and just like a favourite novel, once you’re fully immersed in the plot, you want to keep reading the story to the very end-
    and then read it all over again!


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