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Couple who bought Crooked House weeks before it was destroyed previously stripped out other village's only pub
10 August 2023, 09:21 | Updated: 11 August 2023, 16:59
The new owners of Britain's wonkiest pub, which burned down and was then demolished to the fury of locals, previously stripped another village's boozer after taking it over.
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Carly Taylor, 34, and husband Adam recently bought the Crooked House in Himley, Staffordshire, which was loved for its slanted interior - the result of subsidence.
But shortly after it was taken over, it was gutted by a fire and days later was demolished without permission.
Detectives are treating the blaze at the pub as arson. There were suggestions people had been partying inside before the fire though police said nobody was inside when the fire broke out.
There is no suggestion that the Taylors are accused of any wrongdoing.
Police "continue to engage" with the Taylors, who are seen on social media outside the Burj Al Arab seven star hotel in Dubai, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and driving expensive cars including a Bentley.
The pair, who live in Lutterworth, Leicestershire are seen flying first class. They own ATE Farms, where Carly Taylor works as a director.
Adam Taylor also owns the Sarah Mansfield Country Inn, in Willey, five miles from their home.
He is alleged to have bought the community pub - the only place for the village to socialise - then gutted it, according to The Times.
Rugby council backed a move to get it designated a community asset in March 2021 but that was overturned after an appeal.
A source told The Times workmen appeared the day after, ripping out the interior including bar and kitchen.
"It was the heart of the community. There was a village billiards team and an 'early doors' every Friday at 6pm for the villagers to meet and catch up," they said.
"They had their new year parties there and there was an elderly couple who had their lunch there every Sunday. Now it is just four walls and looks like it is waiting to fall down. It is devastating."
Taylor has planning permission to build two properties in the pub's car park and convert the first floor of the existing building into "letting bedrooms", with his application saying he intended to restore the pub after.
But a planning inspector admitted the pub "may ultimately be lost" because there was a "lack of certainty" that works would even take place.
The couple's history of planning applications includes winning permission last month to build 21 holiday homes on their farm, despite Lutterworth council worrying about its impact on traffic.
The couple have not responded to speculation over the pub's demise.
Staffordshire Police's Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Chisholm said: "We understand the significance of this much-loved building, and the upset and anger felt by many, so want to reassure you we're doing all we can to understand more about what happened and who was responsible.
"There is lots of misinformation circulating within communities and online and this is unhelpful. We're trying to provide accurate and timely updates, but as I am sure you can appreciate there is a lot of work and liaison with a number of partners which needs to be completed, and this takes time.
"There are also certain things that police and fire do not have the powers to deal with, the decision around partial demolition of the building, for example, when the scene was handed back to the owner."
It was reported that dirt blocking access to the site had hampered firefighters as they were forced to park away from the blaze on Saturday night and roll out the hoses.
The force said: "This fire has shocked and upset so many given the, albeit not listed, cultural importance and heritage of the building.
"This is not lost on us and a robust investigation using all available information and forensic opportunities is being carried out. We have spoken to, and continue to engage, with the owners."
A specialist sniffer dog is understood to have been sent to the rubble as the investigation continues.
Developers who bought the 18th-century pub said it would no longer operate as such, according to Martson's brewery, which sold it.
There have been calls to rebuild the landmark pub brick by brick.
South Staffordshire council is investigating potential breaches of the Town and Country Planning Act over the demolition.
"The agreed course of action included the removal of three elements of the first-floor front elevation only. This was only to avoid the weak parts of the structure from falling," council leader Roger Lees said.
"At no point did the council agree the demolition of the whole structure nor was this deemed necessary."