Express & Star

8 totally unique things you can only do in Tipton

Tipton is the heart of the Black Country.

Things to do in Tipton.

Other places might try to claim to be the capital but Tipton is its heart and soul. The town has everything the Black Country is synonymous with: Fiercely independent, idiosyncratic customs and experiences and salt of the earth people who make no apologies for speaking in the most recognisable and mimicked accent in the country.

The Black Country accent is the closest we have to Olde English, and Tipton's name reflects that, as "tun" is the Old English word for farm and Tibba an Anglo-Saxon big cheese. In the Doomsday Book written by William the Conqueror's invaders in 1086 Tipton is recorded as "Tibintone" in the Domesday Book of 1086, meaning Tibba's estate. The present version of the name was changed in the 16th Century.

A post-industrial town which helped propel the industrial revolution, almost everywhere you look in Tipton there is evidence of heavy industry and the giant infrastructure needed power Victorian Britain and its empire. Before the industrial revolution Tipton was a few hamlets but its population exploded in the 17th and 18th Century after becoming a boom town thanks in part to James Watt building his first steam engine in the town in the 1770s. Its canal system was built after coal and ironstone were discovered at the same time.

To some Tipton is the butt of jokes but everyone knows where it is, and the same can't be said for so many towns across this land. Tipton will hit headlines when you least expect it.

In 2004 it became globally infamous after The Sun's iconic headline The Tipton Taliban after three men were taken to Guantanamo Bay after being caught in Afghanistan by American forces. After spending two years in the detention camp's orange suits and suffering torture by their American captors they were all released without charge in 2004.

Two years ago, out of nowhere, the biggest music star in the country Stormzy, as cockney as jellied eels and boasting about your house price, revealed the turning point in his life was in Tipton.

For generations of sports fans in the 19th Century Tipton was famous thanks to the fists of one man, known to all as the Tipton Slasher. William Perry gained massive fame thanks to newspapers breathless reports of his exploits fighting all comers. Sadly, in March 1922 the town became associated with tragedy when 19 girls, the youngest 13, and young women were killed in an explosion at an unlicensed factory that was dismantling World War One ammunition. It was forever known as The Tipton Catastrophe.

After 40 years not having a constituency named after it from the next General Election the historic wrong will be righted and in the Houses of Parliament there will be an MP for Wednesbury and Tipton. Currently part of West Bromwich West after the old constituency Rowley Regis and Tipton was scrapped in 1974. Currently part of Sandwell borough, Tipton has been pulled from pillar to post over the years, being adminstered from Staffordshire, Worcestershire, West Bromwich Dudley, Warley and West Bromwich.

But what can you do in Tipton, that you cannot do anywhere else in the world?

The Wonkiest Pub in the World

The Tilted Barrel, High Street, Princes End

Before last summer, you would have to drive through Tipton to get to The Wonkiest Pub in the World.

Fans of having a drink whilst being surrounded by mind-bending angles created by centuries of subsidence were in their own piece of heaven at The Crooked House in Himley, just outside Dudley.

However, the Black Country's very own leaning tower of Pisa was burnt down last August sparking a massive outpouring of grief and outrage locally, nationally and even internationally with even The New York Times reporting the arson attack at the pub. But six and a half miles away from The Crooked House, and still in The Black Country, is The Tilted Barrel, High Street, Princes End.

Built in 1820, the Grade II listed building, now holds the mantle of The Wonkiest Pub in the World thanks to its unique skew whiff wooden beams and cockeyed upholstery.

Before greatness was thrust upon the pub, it had seen better days. When this reporter, a then resident of Tipton, visited for a post-deadline pint last summer, the place had certainly seen better days.

The place only accepted cash (never a good sign) and only seemed to be selling cans (another bad sign), the locals were about as friendly as Covid and I've had more helpful hernias than the barman. As I left via the backdoor, as the front entrance was boarded up (another bad sign), I thought it was not long for this world.

The pub went up for auction in October for £180,000 but went unsold. But like many a Black Country pub on the brink of oblivion a Sikh in shining armour turned up to save the day. Ian Riaar bought The Tilted Barrel and spent £80,000 refurbishing the place. The desi pub is one our area's greatest inventions, and one this reporter missed like hell when working in London, a few pints and a cheeky Chicken Tikka on demand? That's what life is about, and now this culinary combo is available in The Wonkiest Pub in the World.

Chat to the 'Osses

In 2011 Tipton horse owners rode to Oldbury Council House to protest about planned new rules

Only the home of The Commitments, Ballymun, Dublin is more synonymous than having 'osses in an urban environment than Tipton.

Not all of Tipton mind, mostly round The Lost City, which until I lived there I didn't realise wasn't what you call the place, well you wouldn't would you, if you grew up somewhere, its never going to be lost.

In fields tucked around and in The Moat Farm estate and even in view of the big ASDA, 'osses graze on grass and watch the world go by,