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Bletchley Park code breaker dies at 87

By john.butterworth  |  Posted: November 09, 2013

John Chown - maths teacher and Bletchley code breaker

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A maths teacher who worked with the Bletchley Park code-breaking team during the Second World War has died aged 87.

John Chown taught many Black Country boys and girls during his 55 years as a teacher at Tettenhall College.

Only son of the Reverend Leslie Chown, well remembered as minister of Waterloo Road Baptist Church in Wolverhampton, Mr Chown won a place at Balliol College, Oxford.

However, at 18 his time at university was interrupted by the war. He was chosen to work alongside many other talented mathematicians at Bletchley in the department run by the renowned Professor Max Newman.

Having obtained a first at Oxford, Mr Chown eventually became an assistant master in the mathematics department at Eton College.

He then taught at Wellington College and Bury Grammar School before returning to teach at Tettenhall College where he had been a pupil from 1934 to 1943.

A well-loved teacher at the college Mr Chown was also an active member of the former pupils’ association, the Old Tettenhallians. He was a past president.

A former colleague, Jeremy Walters, said: “John was a hugely respected figure at Tettenhall College.

“He was a keen sportsman in his younger years and made a massive contribution to the life of the college and to the Old Tettenhallians.”

Mr Chown was also a generous benefactor to his Oxford college and to Tettenhall College.

A staunch church man, Mr Chown was an active member of St Jude’s Church in Wolverhampton.

His funeral took place at the church yesterday (Wednesday).

Mr Chown’s grandfather and great-grandfather had served as presidents of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland.

Mr Chown’s wife Phyllis, whom he married in 1961, died in 1993.

l If you were an ex-pupil of Mr John Chown’s and want to leave a tribute go to www.blackcountry bugle.co.uk

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  • nickhawley  |  February 12 2014, 7:22PM

    John Chown was a fantastic teacher. His style was unorthodox but very effective. He basically speed coached one on one. This opened up maths to me and was the driver behind my becoming an engineer. He was a lovely man (you dont say that about many teachers) with a passion for teaching.