Crooked House 'could be rebuilt straight', campaigners fear, as owners told to restore 'Britain's wonkiest pub'

29 February 2024, 12:30

Campaigners fear the Crooked House 'could be rebuilt straight'
Campaigners fear the Crooked House 'could be rebuilt straight'. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Campaigners have raised fears that the Crooked House could be rebuilt 'straight', losing its cult status as 'Britain's wonkiest pub'.

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The owners of the pub, in Himley near Dudley, have been ordered to rebuild the pub after it was hit by fire then demolished illegally six months ago.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street announced on Tuesday that an enforcement notice had been made.

But despite the good news for campaigners, some campaigners said that they were worried the pub might not be the same as before.

"What happens if they rebuild the crooked house “as original”, i.e. (dare I say it?) … straight," Philip Heath said on the Save the Crooked House Facebook page.

Read more: Crooked House owners ordered to rebuild 'Britain's wonkiest pub' brick-by-brick after it was destroyed

Read more: Inside Crooked House pub owners' lavish lifestyle - from Dubai holidays to Bentleys

The burnt out remains of The Crooked House pub near Dudley.
The burnt out remains of The Crooked House pub near Dudley. Picture: Alamy

"I know that would entirely miss the point, but I think the unauthorised action was demolition of a pub, not of a “wonky pub”?

"Could they be “done” for that? And would the Building Regs crew even allow it to be built so crooked? Just saying, because it sometimes turns out that apparent good news in planning can have escape routes or loopholes. I’m all in favour of the owner being brought to book, but I suspect this is far from the end of it."

Others said that the order was for the pub to be rebuilt exactly as it was.

Bill Lees wrote: "I think that the order to re-build very specifically says that it must be re-built exactly “as it was before the fire”, and even specifies the materials to be used."

Others pointed out that the order to rebuild could be appealed to the planning inspector.

The Crooked House in ruins
The Crooked House in ruins. Picture: Getty

Announcing the news on Tuesday, Mr Street wrote on the Facebook page: "Hi everyone, today is obviously a monumental day in the campaign to get the Crooked House rebuilt.

"South Staffordshire District Council deserve enormous credit for holding their nerve and pursuing this enforcement action.

"However it would never have happened if it wasn’t for the tireless work of each and everyone one of you in this group. What you have done to keep the Crooked House at the forefront of people’s minds has been exceptional, and as Mayor I want to personally thank you all.

"I said at the time of the tragedy that the owners had messed with the wrong community, and you haven’t half proved that right. Thank you."

Campaigners were overjoyed at the news.

Tony Harrington posted on the Facebook page: “Yyyaaaaassssss! There is a God!! xx”

People inspect the rubble remains as they gather at The Crooked House pub
People inspect the rubble remains as they gather at The Crooked House pub. Picture: Alamy

Jane Lawrence posted: “Fantastic news!! Well done everybody!”Abbie Armer wrote: “Just saw this absolutely fantastic.”

Once known as “Britain’s wonkiest” inn, the pub caught fire on August 5 last year and was demolished two days later.

A memory wall was set up at the site where fans of the iconic pub shared their memories earlier this month. More than 35,000 people have thrown their support behind a campaign to see the pub rebuilt.

Dudley North MP Marco Longhi said: “This is an act of commitment from the community, very publicly, where we are renewing our vows to see the Crooked House rebuilt brick by brick.

“That’s what the community wants and that’s what we are pursuing.”

Campaigners have pushed for the Crooked House to be rebuilt
Campaigners have pushed for the Crooked House to be rebuilt. Picture: Alamy

The pub, which dates back to the 18th century, was known for its sloping walls and floor which were caused by mining subsidence in the area.

Staffordshire Police is treating the blaze as arson.

Five men and one woman were arrested in connection with the fire and remain on bail.

The Save the Crooked House campaign group and contractors agreed to secure the 25,000 bricks from the building and they were kept in padlocked containers.

Remains of the Crooked House pub
Remains of the Crooked House pub. Picture: Getty

In a statement, South Staffordshire Council it had "engaged with the owners" since the demolition of the Crooked House pub, "but has reached a point where formal action is considered necessary".

The enforcement notice served against the owners requires the building to be rebuilt by February 2027, the council said.

If work is not completed within the time limit, the local authority can prosecute for failure to comply with the notice, it added.

The owners of the site have 30 days to appeal the notice.