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Crooked House fans fenced out for their own protection as police continue investigating arson at iconic boozer
15 August 2023, 17:50 | Updated: 15 August 2023, 17:58
Fans of the destroyed Crooked House pub in Dudley have been fenced off from visiting where it stood - as a council was ordered to keep them away for health and safety.
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The council made the order based on the advice of its Health and Safety Executive - with the fence going up on Tuesday afternoon as a result.
Despite the confirmation, locals who have started a campaign to have the boozer rebuilt brick by brick have expressed distrust of the barriers being placed at the site.
One commenter said: "As a pessimist I would say that these guys are saying what people want to hear in order to go about what they are actually there for without any hassle off the locals."
The distrustful comment was implying that people were attempting to profit from collecting bricks in the rubble left by the fire at the Grade II-listed watering hole.
One other commenter was more charitable with their expectations, writing: "Thinking further. Wouldn't a conservationist or local archaeologist be taking brick samples? I suspect they are going to clear the site overnight."
Despite the fire which engulfed the iconic Crooked House pub, there is renewed hope after Historic England expressed willingness to explore restoration options with the local council.
Thanks to mining subsidence, the building had partially sunk into the ground, earning the unofficial name “Britain’s wonkiest pub.”
Staffordshire Police later said they believed the fire was caused by arson, but no arrests have been made.
Visitors from across the world came in for a drink where, if you paid for a pint, your money would appear to roll up the bar.
Mourners gather at rubble of Crooked House to lament pub’s destruction
Now there is renewed optimism after Historic England expressed its willingness to work with the local council on restoration options.
A spokesperson said they are providing guidance and are ready to collaborate with the community.
Historic England said it was keen to “consider all possible avenues” with the local council to see the pub reconstructed.
“We offered our support to South Staffordshire Council last week and have been in regular contact with the council since to provide specialist advice as needed,” said a spokesman. “We are also happy to engage with the local community.”
The spokesman added: “This is a complex case and we are still processing the applications we received just before and after the fire occurred last week.”
However, no final decisions have been made as there were two applications prior to the destruction.
Campaigners aiming to save the pub welcomed Historic England's announcement.
Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said that he would like to see the pub after the saga.
“This building, whilst not listed, was loved and renowned,” he said. “After standing for over 200 years it has been reduced to rubble in a matter of hours.
“This week people have been gathering where it recently stood and taking in the emptiness of the scene, holding the bricks that once made up its crooked walls. Some have even left flowers and notes of sympathy. This is a process of mourning for a building loved and lost.”
Crooked House pub gutted after fire rips through historic building
Ian Sandall of the Save the Crooked House group said, "I'm thrilled they share our passion for preserving this wonderfully peculiar yet charming pub. We hope the government recognizes its heritage significance."
MP Sir Gavin Williamson suggested legal powers be re-evaluated to aid rebuilding of historical sites. He argued local authorities' ability to compel landowners is often limited.
Mayor Andy Street revealed discussions with the council about rebuilding, referencing the Carlton Tavern precedent. He said, "While the Crooked House's charm stems from subsidence, demolition isn't the answer. Restoration aligns with community wishes."
Amanda Inkersole, 56, a regular at the pub and a former barmaid, told reporters she would pop in while walking her dogs for “a pint and a chat to see what was happening”.
“The new roof looked great. The kitchen had been revamped for good old pub grub. I’m so sorry to see it go,” she said.
There has been silence from the new owners of the Crooked House
Carly Taylor, 34, and her husband Adam, 44, owners of ATE Farms, purchased the pub from Marston's brewery last month. The couple has not commented on why they bought the pub, how the fire on Saturday may have started, or whether they disagree with the local authority's claim that the pub was demolished against the council's orders.
Police said that officers would speak to the couple over the fire, which they were treating as arson.