'Questions need answered' over blaze that scorched UK's 'wonkiest pub'

West Midlands mayor Andy Street says ‘questions need answering’ over cause of blaze that left Britain’s ‘wonkiest pub’ The Crooked House a burned out shell as locals launch campaign to rebuild 192-year-old boozer and photos show scale of devastation

  • The Conservative mayor has branded the loss of The Crooked House a ‘tragedy’
  • Pub chain Marston’s, which sold the bar last month, ‘shocked and disappointed’
  • READ MORE: ‘Britain’s wonkiest pub’ where drinkers could send coins uphill

The mayor of the West Midlands says there are ‘a lot of questions that need answering’ after an 18th century farmhouse-turned-pub dubbed ‘Britain’s wonkiest’ burned down weeks after it was sold to new owners.

Andy Street has branded the loss of The Crooked House pub in Himley, near Dudley, a ‘tragedy’ after the building was gutted by fire on Saturday August 5.

Staffordshire police and fire services have launched a joint investigation into the fire in order to establish the cause.

Locals have lamented the loss of The Crooked House, which attracted visitors from across the world because one side of the building sat four feet lower than the other, but believe it can be rebuilt despite extensive damage.

Subsidence caused by mining works in the early 19th century caused the structure to sink into the ground on one side, and it was propped up with buttresses so it could operate as a watering hole.

The remains of The Crooked House pub in Himley, Dudley, after a fire took hold on Saturday night. It had operated as a public house for 192 years despite its wonky appearance

Aerial images show the extent of the destruction wreaked by the fire on August 5

Pub chain Marston’s sold The Crooked House to a private buyer for an undisclosed sum last month. It says it is ‘shocked and disappointed’ to learn the pub has been destroyed

An extension built to the rear contained a restaurant space. It was also completely destroyed in the fire, with just traces of the roof remaining

Writing about the fire on his official Twitter profile, Conservative mayor Mr Street has called for the building to be restored to its former glory, branding it an ‘iconic Black Country landmark’.

Mr Street said: ‘A lot of questions surrounding the Crooked House fire that need answering, and I’m sure the authorities will get to the truth.

‘Today all we can say is what a tragedy, and I sincerely hope this iconic Black Country landmark can be restored and preserved.’

Images from the scene on Monday show the inside of the pub has been completely gutted by the blaze.

Aerial images make clear the extent of the destruction: the roof has collapsed into the interior and few traces remain that the building was a pub at all.

Only the Crooked House signage on the outside, and painted advertisements for Banks’s Ales on the brickwork, indicate what the building had been before it was destroyed. 

The Crooked House was put up for sale in January as part of a cost-cutting exercise by owner Marston’s, and bought by a private buyer for an undisclosed sum last month.

Conservative West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has branded the incident a ‘tragedy’, saying there are ‘a lot of questions that need answering’

The signage and paintwork on the front of the pub are all that is left of its 192-year-old history as a world-famous drinking spot. Police are investigating the cause of the blaze

Prior to the weekend tragedy, a petition had been launched to save The Crooked House by local Paul Turner.

Following the fire, he has also called for what remains of the building to be restored and preserved. Before the fire, the petition had around 4,000 signatures – a figure that has doubled since.

READ MORE: The 192-year-old ‘wonkiest pub’ where coins rolled UP the bar before being destroyed by fire: How Dudley bar The Crooked Pub sunk 4ft into the ground due to mine subsidence before being rescued from demolition and attracting admirers the world over

Writing on the Change.org page, Mr Turner said: ‘The job of saving The Crooked House just became a lot bigger, but it is still possible. 

‘The shell of the building is still standing and, although engineers would need to confirm this, it appears to be possible to rebuild it. 

‘Therefore I believe that the petition should continue with the aim of restoring this piece of history.

‘Let’s not give up, please keep sharing the petition and asking your friends to sign it and share it too.’

Six fire crews from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue and the West Midlands Fire Service attended the incident at around 10.45pm on Saturday.

No one was injured in the fire, the cause of which is now being investigated by police and fire investigators. 

The outgoing landlord, Lee Goodchild, announced following the sale that the pub was closing for good after nearly 200 years, and would not re-open as the new owner was pursuing an ‘alternative purpose’ for the site.

He said following the fire: ‘They’ve sold off one of the oldest pubs around. It’s massively known in the area and worldwide in fact, but it’s their pub to sell, and it was an expensive place to run – but obviously, does the unique heritage of the site outweigh the cost?

‘It’s disappointing that the place has gone up in flames. It’s a shame, especially given the time and money that has gone into it. The roof has been replaced at Marston’s’ cost, and the kitchen too, but it all seems a little bit worthless now.’

A spokesperson for Marstons told PA: ‘The sale of the Crooked House, as a going concern, was announced in January this year on the open market.

‘It was well-publicised and completed two weeks ago. 

‘We are shocked and disappointed to learn about the fire which has caused so much damage to a landmark building which is so well known in the area.’ 

Independent peer Lord Austin tweeted that the lane to the pub was ‘apparently blocked’ when emergency services arrived on Saturday. He has called for a thorough investigation 

Locals started a petition calling for the pub to be saved after a sale was announced to a private buyer who intended to pursue an ‘alternative purpose’ for the site. They have since doubled down on calling for The Crooked House to be restored

Police say nobody was injured and no-one was found inside the building when they arrived on the scene at 10.45pm on Saturday. An investigation is underway into the cause

Lord Ian Austin, an independent peer and former Labour MP for Dudley North, tweeted on Sunday that ‘the lane to the pub [was] apparently blocked’ during the blaze, and urged the emergency services to ‘investigate and prosecute’.

He added: ‘Can Marstons tell us to whom this Grade II Listed Black Country landmark was sold please so that we can commiserate with them on the loss of the historic building they bought just a few days ago?’

Staffordshire Police has urged anyone with information which could help the investigation to contact the force on 101, quoting incident number 761 of August 5.

A statement issued by the force on Sunday read: ‘We are now working with fire investigators to establish the cause of the fire. Fire investigators are inspecting the scene this morning and officers are making local enquiries to secure any information that might help the investigation.’

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