Candies Sweet Shop
'Candies', the Back to Backs' sweet shop located at No. 55 on the corner of Inge Street and Hurst Street, has a reputation for selling the best old-fashioned sweets in the city and is well-known both to Birmingham locals and to those from further afield.
The appealing window displays, the wide array of boiled sweets, biscuits, toffees, chocolates, fudges and lollipops on sale, packaged in pink-and-white striped paper bags as well as the beautiful 1930's décor of the shop draws treat fans in their droves each year. As well as presenting ample opportunities for the indulgence of one's sweet tooth, however, the shop also has a fascinating history.
The premises at No. 55 were first used as a shop in 1901, but it wasn't until 1930 when local Birmingham shopkeeper Arthur Bingham took over the lease that the shop began to sell sweets. Arthur and his family ran a successful business selling English-made, traditional sweets for 36 years before it was sold to a Cypriot businesswoman. The shop continued to sell sweets until the 1970's when it transformed into 'Oscars', selling a very different kind of treat in its new guise as a kebab house.
In 2004, when the National Trust acquired and renovated the dilapidated court of back-to-back houses occupying Hurst and Inge Street, they also restored the shop to it's original function as a traditional sweet shop. The next decade saw the shop leased by the conservation charity to different sweet retailers before it was taken back under the management of the Back to Backs team in 2014, becoming 'Candies' once again. Though 'Candies' serves as the meeting point for the group tours of the preserved houses at Court 15, the shop is also a thriving business in it's own right.
Not only does the shop cater to the afternoon and evening theatre-goers crossing the street from the Hippodrome shortly before curtain-up to buy bags of sweets for the interval; it also caters to a loyal core of regulars as well as visitors to the Back to Backs and passers-by, unable to resist the treats on offer in the window.
The shop is a feast for all the senses; walking in, the avid sweet-seeker is greeted by the sugary, mouthwatering smells emanating from jar upon jar of sweets which occupy the entire back wall of the shop from floor to ceiling. Having been restored to it's original 1930's décor, the shop is also a treat for the eyes, boasting an original working till (visitors are asked to approach with caution as the till's drawer snaps back at a speed which poses a danger to unwary hands), as well as a glass counter under which tantalising chunks of creamy Devon-made fudge sit, waiting to be eaten.
'Candies' also offers a nostalgia trip for visitors who are transported back to memories of their childhood by the old-fashioned sweets sold in the shop including sugar mice, violet creams, cola pips and coconut toasties, all sold by the quarter weight. In keeping with Arthur Bingham's original sweet shop, only British suppliers such as the South Wales-based company, Brays (which was founded in 1867 and produces a range of boiled sweets, toffees and nougat), are used.
So... sweet-toothed reader, if you haven't already visited 'Candies' at the Birmingham Back to Backs, what are you waiting for? Come visit us here in the city centre and indulge your senses by tasting a step back in time.