‘Doctor Who defies the council’ – Walsall Observer, April 15th, 1977

Thanks to diligent and committed rooting through past issues of the Walsall Observer by a keen reader of the Brownhills Blog, I am able to post this article from the Walsall Obsever of April 15th, 1977, about Philip Cheetham and his ultimately doomed confrontation with the authorities. This seems to answer several questions and raise a whole bunch more. I’ll let the article do the talking. I’ve transcribed it below, but you can see the somewhat poor quality original, including a photo of the protagonist by clicking on the image below.

If you have anything to add, or your memory has been jogged, please don’t hesitate to comment.

Fresh from the archives – Philp Cheetham in the limelight

‘Dr Who’ defies the council

Observer exclusive by Shelley Hunt and Gary Hudson

A technological wizard, who helps America’s space research, is set to defy Walsall Council from an electronic fortress in Brownhills.

Dr. Philip Cheetham, nicknamed ‘The Professor’ has turned his attention to keeping the council men out of his condemned High Street house.

The housing department will need the Six Million Dollar Man to help evict Mr. Cheetham from 218 High Street.

His ‘Doctor Who’ type defences include

  • Radar, which can detect a bulldozer at 50 yards
  • A sensitive alarm system which can identify callers
  • Closed circuit television an concealed microphones
  • A ‘Tesla’ coil, which can set up a field of high voltage electrical energy around the house
  • A stand-by power source

Mr Cheetham, whose IQ tops 160, is a member of the MENSA organisation.

His home is at the end of a row of terraced houses being demolished – but he is determined not to move as he does not regard it as unfit.

‘They will not be able to get me out now. I am just going to sit back and wait,’ he said.

Mr. Cheetham bought the house seven years ago when he moved from Bristol to take up a teaching post. He subsequently turned the job down because it did not pay enough money. He is now unemployed.


Originally from Devon, Mr. Cheetham has done satellite observation work for NASA, and his house is one of their monitoring stations.

He is a friend of millionaire calculator manufacturer, Clive Sinclair, and is helping pioneer miniaturised electronics.

Mr. Cheetham has also been actively involved in developing teaching aids for the disabled.

Mr. Ron Knight, Walsall’s Housing Manager, said there was no question of Mr. Cheetham being allowed to stay in the house.

But he admitted; ‘It is very difficult for us to contact him. He won’t answer the door or talk to us. We may have to get a Sheriff’s Warrant to get him out.’

‘I have heard that he is nicknamed the professor,’ said Mr. Knight.

A photograph probably taken from Humphries House of the rear of the terraces where Mr. Cheetham lived, spotted by chance in that excellent book ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’ by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington.
Rate this post...


  • Clive

    I wonder what happened to Mr Cheetham after he was evicted from his house?

    • Mr cheatham worked in Walsall area with a bill board attached to him , about how the council, and police treated him, when evicting him from his home in brownhill, he died in the 80s

  1. It’s been a funny old year « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  May 12, 2010

    […] garages, barbers, fish shops and demolished houses. We found the real, rather sad story behind a man barricaded into his house, looked into the polluted past of Clayhanger and tried to find the owner of a classic american car. […]

  2. On the cut « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  October 16, 2010

    […] Read about the tragic Brownhills  figure Philip Cheetham – teacher, eccentric and electronics… Brownhills Rally, May 1975. Again, from Catshill Junction Bridge, this time looking up the Anglesey Branch toward the Anchor pub. The yard to the right contained Watney Plant Hire, Autocraft accident repairs and Raden Engineering, all now replaced by Chandler's Keep. I remember the wee hut with the chimney well. Taken from BlackCountryHistory.org and Walsall Local History Centre. […]

  3. Build a rocket, boys! « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  February 12, 2012

    […] of Mr. Ferrie’s project? What happened to the Space Research Group? There’s echoes of the Philip Cheetham story in there, too, although he didn’t arrive in Brownhills until some years later. Please do contact […]

  4. The race for space | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog  March 25, 2018

    […] of Mr. Ferrie’s project? What happened to the Space Research Group? There’s echoes of the Philip Cheetham story in there, too, although he didn’t arrive in Brownhills until some years later. Please do contact […]


Leave a Reply