Professor Carl Chinn axed from university history post

He has inspired generations of people to learn more about where they're from. But now Professor Carl Chinn's role at the University of Birmingham is being dropped.

Professor Carl Chinn. Could he take the top job?
Professor Carl Chinn. Could he take the top job?

The director of community history role, believed to be unique in academic circles, is being made redundant, although the expert on Birmingham and Black Country history will carry on teaching.

The 58-year-old Express & Star columnist has been involved with the university for almost 25 years and has written more than 20 books.

His work focuses on people who were often excluded from formal history: the working classes, particularly the poor, women and ethnic minorities.

His pioneering work was recognised in 2001 when he was awarded the MBE by the Queen for his services to local history and to charities.

The following year he was made Profesor of Community History, the first in the country to hold such a position.

He collected an archive as part of a research project called A People's History of Birmingham.

Professor Chinn said: "I'm sad and disappointed that the role of director of Birmingham community history has been made redundant and that no other historian locally will fill that role.

"I am very grateful to the people of the Black Country and Birmingham.

"Even though it was a role as director of Birmingham community history it expanded over the years to take in the Black Country too.

"People have shared their lives with me and supported me. That has meant the world to me."

The move was described as a blow by a member of a history group.

Mike Edwards, former deputy chairman of the Wolverhampton History Society, said: "Carl has been a major figure and did a lot for all of us over the years.

"The loss of someone as professional as him and the role he held is a blow for West Midlands historians."

Professor Chinn said he had 'other strings' to his bow including writing books and his column in the Express & Star every Thursday.

As well as teaching at the university he will also continue at Perry Beeches II School in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.

Professor Chinn first started work at the university in October 1990 as junior lecturer in Modern History and community historian in the Department of Modern History.

Since 2007 Professor Chinn worked with summer schools and did school visits because he wanted more people from families who had previously never had anyone go on to higher education to go to Birmingham University.

Last year he was honoured by the Open University with the award of Master of the University.

The OU's Vice Chancellor, Martin Bean, said it was in recognition of Professor Chinn's 'notable contribution to public service, education and culture in the West Midlands'.

In 2013 Professor Chinn was dropped from BBC WM after 20 years of service.

He had been presenting a Sunday show and historians across the region criticised the corporation for removing part of the 'localism' from radio.

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