LONDON (AP) — Villagers in central England are fuming after one of Britain’s quirkiest pubs burned down and was reduced to rubble by a digger before a fire investigation was completed.
The local mayor has joined thirsty regulars from the 18th-century Crooked House pub in the village of Himley, 130 miles (210 kilometers) northwest of London, in pressing for a proper investigation into the events surrounding the pub’s destruction.
Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, said Wednesday that local authorities will “get to the truth” and that he will continue to “keep the pressure on for a rebuild” for a pub that was widely revered as ‘Britain’s wonkiest’ as a result of its slumping foundation and sloping walls.
On Saturday, two weeks after the subsidence-hit pub had been sold by pub and hotel operator Marston’s to a local firm, it suffered extensive damage as a result of a fire. Two days later, the building was destroyed by a mechanical digger.
Given that the cause of the fire had yet to be determined, questions have been raised over how the pub ended up being flattened. The local South Staffordshire Council is investigating potential breaches of the law over the pub’s demolition.
Long-time regular Paul Turner, who set up an online ‘Save The Crooked House’ petition last month that has attracted more than 13,000 signatures, said he was “absolutely devastated” by the pub’s destruction and backed calls for a rebuild.
“I think the only possibility really is some sort of replica,” he said. “We need to do something, we can’t just lose it.”
The pub was originally a farmhouse when it was built in 1765 and subsequently began sinking on one side as a result of extensive coal mining in the local area, which is part of the central England region widely known as the Black Country, in reference to its industrial and mining heyday in the mid-19th century.
Around 1830, it became a pub and was called The Siden House — siden meaning crooked in the local dialect.
In the 1940s, the pub, which had been subsequently renamed the Glynne Arms, was condemned as unsafe and scheduled for demolition. The forebear of Marston’s then purchased the pub and made it safe.
It then became known as The Crooked House and has been a tourist attraction since, with visitors admiring how the building stood the test of time, given that one end of it was a little under four feet (around 1.2 meters) lower than the other.
“It was something we were proud of as Black Country people,” the 58-year-old Turner said. “It was ours.”