Save St John's Church



Became Patron of the St John's Church Preservation Group in October 2007, just before we were officially inaugurated as a group in November 2007.  



Professor Chinn is a direct descendant of a brother of the famous Tipton Slasher, William Perry, Champion of England, who is buried at St John's. 

Professor Chinn has tried for many years to highlight the plight of St John's Church.




The Tipton Slasher Statue, Owen Street, Tipton


“More than happy for you to use my story if it will help. You have my support. Please keep me up to speed. God Bless. Carl.”





By Dr Carl Chinn, Black Country Memories Express and Star, Thursday January 22nd, 2004 

When I was a kid I never knew my Grandad Perry to walk. Grandad had been struck down by multiple sclerosis when he was in his forties and about the last time he wasn’t in a wheelchair was when he walked Our Mom down the aisle in 1954.


But even though he couldn’t get about, Our Grandad was one of the most important people in our lives. On a Sunday everyone in the family seemed to meet at Our Mom’s and after a couple of tots of whisky Our Grandad would raise the one arm he could move and beckon me and Our Kid to him.


Looking back, we must have been eight or nine when Grandad’s began to make a mark upon us. “Don’t you ever forget, ma lads”, he’d urge. “What’s that, Grandad?” “Don’t you two ever forget, you’re related to the Tipton Slasher”.


Now, this wasn’t something we went round bragging about. Coming from the east side of Brummagem, we knew about the Black Country and that Tipton was in it and that was about it.


And we’d also heard about Jack the Ripper and so in our childish minds we thought we’d got someone in our family who went round some place called Tipton slashing people with a knife.


For years Grandad impressed upon us the need to be proud of our relationship to the Tipton Slasher but we didn’t take much notice until just before Grandad died.


It was his last Christmas with us, although we didn’t know that. I was sixteen and Our Darryl was just fifteen.


We’d gone up into Birmingham city centre to buy presents and, as we always did when we were up town we went to Hudson’s bookshop.


It was a magical place, like an Aladdin’s Cave with little rooms above and below ground, filled with shelves stacked with the treasure of books of all kinds.


Suddenly it was as if one book jumped out to us and leaped into our hands. It was called The Tipton Slasher and was by Tom Langley. It was the winter of 1972, just a year or so after decimalisation and the price on the book was still five shillings.


Me and Our Kid couldn’t catch our breath. There was a Tipton Slasher. It wasn’t just a story made up by Our Grandad and this relation was important enough to have been written about.


We grabbed hold of the book and bought it without looking at it. When we got home we couldn’t wait to tell Our Mom and her sister, Our Lynne. We all sat down and as fast as we could we rushed through it to find out about the Tipton Slasher.


Now as any Black Country chap and wench could tell you, the Tipton Slasher was one of the greatest of all bare-fisted boxing champions of England. He got his name because he came from Tipton and he slashed with his right hook, but his real name was Bill Perry.


Dead excited, we thought “he’s got the same surname as Our Grandad!”  So, without telling Grandad we’d got the book we started to quiz him about what he knew about his people. All Grandad could tell us was that his own father was a Thomas Perry, who was a Black Country Man who’d been a drummer in the Boer war and who’d come to Brum as a young boy.


Grandad knew little more bar that his own grandfather was a William Perry and that he’d been named after his uncle, Bill Perry the famed Tipton Slasher.


So what we did then was write to Mr Langley telling him what little we knew and asking him if he could confirm that Our Grandad was related to the Tipton Slasher.


Mr Langley must have been a kind man to write back to a pair of Brummagem lads who dayn’t know A from a bull’s foot. But get back he did.


He’d got in touch with a very old lady who was a niece or great niece of the Tipton Slasher and she’s confirmed that he’d had a cousin called William.


Any road up, we wrapped up the book for Grandad for Christmas, along with Mr Langley’s letter. We had to open the present for Grandad as he could hardly move his arms by now and we had to let him know what it was as his eyes were failing.


When he heard it was a book on the Tipton Slasher it was as if a sparkler had lit up his face. Our Grandad was in his oiltot. Everything he’d passed on to us was vindicated. Grandad never swore, but all he did say was was “God blige me. I told y’ dayn I. I told y’ we was related to the Tipton Slasher.


Our Grandad died that February coming. When Our Mom opened up his little purse after he’d gone there was just a few coins in it. Amongst them were two florins. Our Kid and me had one each. Mine is by me now as I write this.


Our Grandad had no money to leave us. He had no property to will us, nor had he fine jewels or fine things for us to inherit. But if Our Grandad had nothing material to give us he left us things which were much more worthy. He left us his example of good humour and bravery in never bowing down to a vile illness. He left us his words, the words of a west midlander who ate pieces when he was clammed, who proudly called his daughters “Ma Wench”, who chucked his rubbish in miskins and who’d known what it was to collar every day for little reward. And he left us his stories.


Through that story of the Tipton Slasher, me and Our Kid were being bonded – without us noticing it – with our people who’d gone before.


We were coming to recognise that we were not on our own, that we part of those whom we had never known but who had helped to make us.


And we were becoming alert to the importance of that link with the past that means we owe a duty not only to those yet to come but to those who have gone.


I know this. I am proud to have the blood of a proper Black Country mon, BILL PERRY THE TIPTON SLASHER.


Professor Chinn continues to be a vital source of support, advice and encouragement to the group and has helped greatly with our public profile and media coverage



Professor Chinn accepted our invitation to be our Patron with these words:
"I am honoured to become patron of the St John's Church Preservation Group and fully support its aims and objectives.
With its commanding view of the Black Country from historic Kates Hill, St John's is a church that calls out to us of the importance of religious buildings in the life of the industrial West Midlands; whilst in its graveyard are buried many of the people who transformed the Black Country into one of the greatest manufacturing regions in the world.
They deserve better than to be left in a place that has become almost wild and their relatives deserve the opportunity to be able to pay their respects in a fitting place.
There are concerns across the Black Country and Birmingham about the state of many churches, chapels and graveyards and if the St John's Church Preservation Group are successful it can act as a beacon of hope for other campaigners."
 Professor Chinn 2009 message for the group and our supporters:

"In a world that is increasingly obsessed with the future and in which the past is abandoned to the detriment of all in society, the campaign for St John's Church, Kates Hill calls out to us to stop and think of the need to bond the past with the present and the future and to ensure that our historic buildings have a worthwhile place today and tomorrow."


Professor Chinn “I am keen for people to come forward because the more volunteers who become active the stronger the message is that St John's should be saved and brought back into use for the community. This vital element in Dudley's history must be saved and can only be saved if people act."

Professor Chinn on St John's Church becoming a Grade II listed building on 21st May 2009  "Both as a social historian and as patron of the St John's Church Preservation Group I am delighted that this historic church has been
listed as a Grade II building by English Heritage. This listing recognises that the church is of special interest historically and architecturally and it emphasises that every effort should be made to preserve it.
 The challenge is now on to secure funding to ensure that the building is not only saved but also that it can become a wonderful  facility for local people.
I hope that everyone concerned with this building can work together to realise this dream of the Group, whose members I congratulate on their achievements so far".

Professor Carl Chinn, MBE, Patron, St John's Church Preservation Group

 A meeting with Professor Chinn at the launch of the John Hemingway book 'An illustrated Chronicle of Dudley Town and Manor' at Dudley Zoo 19th June 2009. Professor Chinn gave an impassioned speech about the importance of Dudley in industrial history.





Photographed at Dudley Castle Professor Chinn with (left) Maureen Marsh vice chair SJCPG and (right) Deb Brownlee chair SJCPG 19th June 2009    


Professor Chinn is a  busy broadcaster, TV presenter and author. He is also  Professor for Community History at the University of Birmingham.

Professor Chinn, BBC Radio WM Presenter



Professor Carl Chinn, BBC Radio WM Community Ambassador



Professor Carl Chinn, University of Birmingham, staff


   Professor Carl Chinn, University of Birmingham, some publications


   Professor Carl Chinn, Wikipedia entry


   Birmingham Lives, The Carl Chinn Archive


   Professor Carl Chinn more publications and the Brummagem Magazine


   Professor Carl Chinn, Brewin Books author Profile includes Longbridge campaign


   Professor Chinn on BBC Television solving history mysteries

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