Tipton shown within the West Midlands
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|Metropolitan county||West Midlands|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||West Midlands|
|List of places: UK • England • West Midlands|
Tipton is a town in the Sandwell borough of the West Midlands, England, with a population of around 47,000. Tipton is located about halfway between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. It is a part of the West Midlands conurbation and is a part of the Black Country.
Tipton was an urban district in Staffordshire until 1938, when it became a municipal borough. The vast majority of the Borough of Tipton was transferred into West Bromwich County Borough in 1966, although the Tividale part of the town became part of Warley. Along with the rest of West Bromwich and Warley, Tipton became part of the Sandwell Metropolitan Borough in 1974 and remains within this local authority to this day.
Tipton was once one of the most heavily industrialised towns in the Black Country. But most of its factories closed during the 1980s and new housing estates have been built on the site of many former factories, the new private homes have seen an upturn in Tipton's fortunes by rising house prices.
The far right British National Party has recently performed well in municipal elections in Tipton, currently having two elected councillors; one in Princes End and one in Tividale, as well as a third councillor, Simon Smith, who was elected in Great Bridge but has since left the party and serves as an independent member. Tividale has a relatively high percentage of ethnic minority residents, mostly Muslims of Pakistani origin, but the Princes End and Great Bridge areas are predominantly occupied by white English residents. Tipton was described by the BBC during the 2000 West Bromwich West by-election as, "One of the few places in Britain with no middle class".
Much of the town has an urban feel to it and over the years the town centre has become a troublesome area due to gangs of youths causing anti-social behaviour although in recent times control and order seems to be coming back to an extent
Until the 18th century, Tipton was a collection of small hamlets. Industrial growth started in the town when ironstone and coal were discovered in the 1770s. A number of canals were built through the town and later railways, which greatly accelerated the pace of industrialisation.
The engineer James Watt built his first steam engine in or very near Tipton in the 1770s, which was used to pump water from the mines. In 1780, James Keir and Alexander Blair set up a chemical works there, making vast quantities of alkali and soap.
The massive expansion in iron and coal industries led to the population of Tipton expanding rapidly through the 19th century, going from 4,000 at the beginning of the century to 30,000 at the end. Tipton gained a reputation as being "the quintessence of the Black Country" because chimneys of local factories belched heavy pollution into the air, whilst houses and factories were built side by side. Most of the traditional industries which once dominated the town have since disappeared.
The Black Country Living Museum in nearby Dudley re-creates life in the early 20th century Black Country, in original buildings which have been painstakingly rebuilt and furnished. There is a residential canal basin at the museum - Tipton was once known as the Venice of the Midlands because it had so many canals, although some of the 'minor' canals in the town were filled-in during the 1970s. The canals today form a vital cycling, wildlife and leisure facility.
The area has a distinctive spoken dialect, different from the Birmingham accent. The richest of Tipton speech is very similar to that which Shakespeare, or even Chaucer, would have spoken. Those who grew up here can often tell the difference between Tipton speech and the speech of people from other Black Country towns.
The town has retained a traditional horse-keeping culture; private horses are kept freely on public land and are occasionally 'trotted' on roads (pulling a rider on a lightweight racing cart). There are also "tatters" (i.e. rag-and-bone men), who also have links to the horse culture. Despite persistent council attempts to clear horses off public land, horses still appear in parks and on canal banks from time to time.
Until 1966, the town had its own council. The headquarters were based in a 19th century building on Owen Street, near the railway station, and fell into disuse on the abolition of Tipton council (when it was absorbed into West Bromwich) in 1966. However, the building remaining standing for another 13 years, finally being demolished in 1979. The site of the building is now a public car park.
Tipton was one of the key towns in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. In 1800, it was a predominantly rural area with just a few coal mines. By the final quarter of the century, it was a heavily populated area with thousands of houses as well as numerous coal mines, factories and blast furnaces.
Notable firms to have been based in Tipton include British Steel, Bean Industries (who owned a huge site which actually crossed the border with Coseley) and Angle Ring. However, most of these factories had closed by the year 2000. The huge rolling mills on Bloomfield Road closed in 2005 and were demolished in the autumn of 2006; the site is now being developed for private housing. The Angle Ring, however, still stands opposite the rolling mills site. Vono only recently moved to a new base on the Patent Shaft site in Wednesbury.
Tipton has direct bus links with the towns of Dudley, Walsall, Stourbridge, Brierley Hill, Sedgley, Coseley, West Bromwich, Oldbury, Bilston, Wednesbury and Darlaston, though not all buses reach the town centre.
Tipton has a direct rail link with the areas of Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Coventry and from 14 December, 2008 this now links to Walsall. There are two railway stations - Tipton railway station in the town centre plus Dudley Port railway station.
Tipton railway station started a multi-million pound refurbishment on 14 September 2009 with an estimated completion date of May 2010. There are no train services at the station during this period, although a replacement bus service is in place to take passengers to the Coseley railway station where connections can be made.
It is currently served by just one railway line, as the line from Walsall to Stourbridge closed in 1964. This line served railway stations at Dudley Port Lower Level and Great Bridge North, both of which closed in 1964 due to the Beeching Axe, though the line remained open to goods trains until 1993. It is set to re-open in 2011 as a Midland Metro expansion on one side and a goods track on the other.
Another line existed between Princes End and Ocker Hill, being closed to passenger trains in 1916 but remaining open to goods traffic until 1980. The closure of the railway was followed with the construction of a pedestrian walkway on the trackbed. The final stub of the line, which linked Wednesbury with Ocker Hill Power Station was closed in 1991.
Steve Bull, who was born on the town's Moat Farm Estate on 28 March, 1965, was a professional footballer. Other footballers born in Tipton included Isaac Clarke (1915-2001), Joe Mayo (born 1953), Steve Guppy (born 1969) and Mick Hoban (born 1952). Arthur Hooper was an amateur sprinter with Tipton Harriers and a member of the England Schoolboys' team. However, he stopped training for Tipton Harriers and he became a professional footballer with Wolverhampton Wanderers amongst others. Other sportsmen from Tipton include William Perry, a Victorian bareknuckle boxer Champion of England from 1850-57. There is a statue to Perry, known as 'the Tipton Slasher' in Coronation Gardens in Tipton centre. Jack Holden (1907-2004) was a runner for Tipton Harriers and Great Britain. Shaun Perry is a rugby union player for Bristol Rugby and England.
Norman Kendrick was a resident of Prince's End, Tipton. He was an early pioneer of the Coach Travel Industry and a civic leader for over 50 years up to his death at 75. Known as 'Ten Men' Kendrick because of his 6' 7", 21 stone frame.
Shafiq Rasul, Ruhal Ahmed and Asif Iqbal were inmates of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba from 2002 to 2004. They were captured during the invasion of Afghanistan whilst, apparently, operating with the defending Taliban forces. They are popularly known as the "Tipton Taliban", following a meme whereby victims of an alleged miscarriage of justice have come to be known by the name of a city or town, followed by a number. See the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four. In 2006, a Michael Winterbottom film claiming to be a historically accurate representation of the their torture and imprisonment was released, called The Road to Guantánamo.
Although they were released without charge, they allege that people in their home town of Tipton still think they're terrorists and that there's too much racism in Tipton for them to be able to return.
Tipton hit the headlines once again on 27 September 2004, when a fire at a house in Peake Drive, Dudley Port, claimed the lives of four members of an Asian family. A fifth member of the family survived the blaze after jumping out of an upstairs window.
Gurmej Rai, the estranged husband of one of the victims, was found guilty on four charges of murder and a charge of attempted murder on 20 February 2006. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term of 35 years, although he had not actually started the blaze. He had paid two other men, Rajiv Sahonta and Ravinder Bedhan to dowse the house with petrol and set it alight, as well as giving them a key to enter the house. They were cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 14 years in prison, though they had already spent a year in custody and the terms of their sentence means they will be eligible for parole in 2012.
The Newcastle upon Tyne based adult comic Viz used Tipton as a perennial butt of jokes throughout the 1990s, involving a fictitious councillor, Hugo Guthrie. Guthrie may, however, have been based on the real inter-war figure of Councillor Doughty who forbade any more pubs to open until one was opened carrying his name — now renamed the "Pie Factory".
The area is notable for being the location of filming for the British comedy film Anita and Me, set in the 1970s.
Tipton is a small town in the West Midlands conurbation. It is a mainly industrial and residential area with a Museum and a limestone caves, aswell as a canal tours and nearby entertainments in the Castle Gate park.
From outside the UK, Tipton is closest to Birmingham International Airport. A regular train service provides connections to Tipton, but you may have to change at Birmingham New Street.
By road, Tipton is a few miles from Junction 9 of the M6. Follow the road signs into Wednesbury, where Tipton will become well signposted.
Tipton train station is on a commuter service which travels mostly between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton, usually every half an hour during weekdays. Buses are also frequent with most of them going to the main bus station in Dudley, where connections to all areas of the West Midlands can be found.
In Coronation Gardens, you will find a statue to William Perry, a 19th century Bare-fist boxing champion, often known as the "Tipton Slasher".
Tipton has a large horse population. Most of the horses are privately owned and many can be seen grazing in the public spaces. They are ridden with a small two person chariot along the roads so be mindful when driving.
Tipton has a network of canals, steeped in industrial history, that provide excellent walking and cycling routes.
The Tipton Sports Academy provides facilities for many sports including track sports, football, tennis, squash and others, all open to the pubic at cheap rates.
The Black Country Living Museum is a 26 acre mostly outdoor recreation of the local area during the last 100 years. It includes its own internal bus service, coal mine, funfair, canal port, rebuilt houses from the period and more traditional museum displays. Entrance fee is expensive (over £10) but you can easily spend a whole day living in the past. It is situated between Tipton and Dudley.
There are few shops of interest to visitors. The main supermarkets in Tipton are The Cooperative near the train station and an Asda and Farmfoods in Princes End.
Tipton, especially around Owen Street, has several takeaways and restaurants serving either traditional Fish & Chips, Baltis, Curries and Pizzas. There are also several pubs that serve high quality food.
Mad O'Roukes Pie Factory is a theme pub which serves a range of hearty pies and ales.
Make sure you try KVE Pork Scratchings, available in most local shops and pubs - they're a local delicacy.
Tipton has many pubs that serve similar drinks to the rest of the UK. Even the local pubs are filled with lively bodies and all should make you feel welcome.
The Ace of Spades (formerly Barge and Barrel) is a friendly rock and blues popular with motorcyclists. It has a pleasant beer garden next to the canal.
There is also a pub opposite Coranation Gardens called The Fountain. This too has a pleasent beer garden next to the canal, and is on the same canal as The Ace of Spades, which makes it ideal if you wish to try both locations out. This was also known as the drinking place of the "Tipton Slasher".
There are a couple of inexpensive guest houses located on the Sedgley Road, a few minutes walk out of the town centre. "Almost en-suite" rooms are available in Mad O'Roukes Pie Factory at around £20 per person per night.
Tipton has no vibrant nightlife, but Wolverhampton and Birmingham are quite accessible.
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