- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 31 May 2017
Back-to-back housing is a form of terraced housing in which two houses share a rear wall. With the rapid expansion of the population in Victorian Britain’s factory towns during the Industrial Revolution, many thousands of back-to-back houses were built.
They were typically occupied by working class people and were generally of low quality and high density. The houses were usually either ‘two-up-two-down’ (i.e. two rooms on both floors), or one room on each of three floors.
Because three of the four walls were shared with other buildings, this type of housing suffered from poor illumination and ventilation. However, they did have some benefits, such as being cheap to build and inexpensive to rent, as well as delivering high-density while giving people their own home as opposed to a flat.
Back-to-back housing was eventually judged to be unsatisfactory and the Housing Act of 1909 outlawed further construction. However, some local authorities continued to sanction their construction until the late-1930s.
Back-to-back housing was particularly common in the inner city areas of Birmingham, Bradford, Leeds, Liverpool, Salford and Nottingham. Only small areas of the housing still exists, most notably in Birmingham where they have been preserved as a museum by the National Trust.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
What U-values are, why they matter and how they are calculated.
The need to ensure that we plan for all aspects of our bio-economy
BSRIA calls on government to reach deeper into the causes of pollution.
George Demetri brings a whole new level of technical knowledge to Designing Buildings Wiki.
Quality professionals need to take an active role in driving the completion process forwards.
The innovations needed to move from rhetoric to realisation.
Creating a sense of place, with radically-low running costs and the highest comfort levels.
A conversation between David Mitchell and Caitlin DeSilvey.
A quick guide to brick sizes.
The Union Street development in Southwark was a passion, as well as a business endeavour.
Do our water quality standards demonstrate to the public that their supply is clean?
A third of practitioners do not have easy access to the knowledge they need.
Sustainable approaches to relief, recovery and reconstruction after a natural disaster.