beerCAMRA

The Crooked House Demolition

It occurs to me that a rapidly moving story like the Crooked House demolition saga will benefit from a series of updates about what’s gone on, as far as we know. I’ll update this as quickly and often as I’m able.

Context

The Crooked House at Himley, once Britain’s wonkiest pub, was built in 1765. It gained its notoriety after 19th century mining subsidence made it lean. The angles involved meant that it created all kinds of fun optical illusions, like marbles appearing to roll uphill (look up gravity hills if you want to know more. The Telegraph reports that the Crooked House was not listed, but in the first week of August 2023 Historic England received a request from “experts” (unknown) that it be granted listed status and therefore enjoy legal protection of its structure and features.

The Sale

25th June 2023: The pub closes after a break in which causes severe internal and external damage. They expect to be closed for 2 weeks, but then are told they cannot return to the building. Scroll down for more details on this, because I only noticed this aspect of the timeline on 15th August!

27th July 2023: The pub confirmed on its Facebook page that Marstons had sold the building for “alternative use”. We later discovered that the landlord handed over his keys on 18th July.

Unlikely to be open it’s doors again..marstons have sold the site to private buyer for alternative use that is all we know.

The Crooked House demolition

August 2023 – The Fire

10.45pm 5th August 2023: Firefighters and police are called to attend a fire, sweeping through the iconic building, as reported the next morning by Sky News and multiple outlets.

The Crooked House Demolition

“Sometime this afternoon” 7th August 2023: The remaining structure of The Crooked House is reported to have been demolished by multiple outlets, including the Birmingham Mail.

What happened next?

  • In a letter to the Leader of South Staffs Council dated 7th August (before news of the demolition broke) West Midlands Mayor Andy Street called for the pub to be rebuilt brick by brick. He tweeted a photo of the letter here.
  • 7th August – There are lots of interesting details in this piece by The Mirror. Including the suggestion that “mounds of dirt were blocking access roads to the pub after the fire started.”
  • 7th August – Local police release a statement. I found the drone footage of the surviving structure quite interesting. In that, there is quite a lot of surviving structure, though the roof has gone.
  • 7th August – anonymous footage appears on social media of a digger reducing the remaining structure of the building to rubble. As reported by the Mirror.

Anonymous owners unmasked

  • 8th August – Guardian journalist Jessica Murray reveals the previously unnamed buyers of The Crooked House were one ATE Farms Ltd. Read her piece here. The Times reports that the police will be contacting the owners regarding the fire. (EDIT 02/03/24 – The first person to identify the buyers was actually Luke on Twitter on 7th August, which I did not find out about until now!)
  • 8th August – South Staffs Council state that the demolition was not lawful. Read it in the Shropshire Star.
  • 9th August – There is a lot of speculation on social media about the new owners of the former Crooked House, their business interests and possible links. I’m not going to get involved in conspiracy theories until we hear more about proper investigations through the correct channels. So far reported in the press we see that the owner, through ATE Farms, was Carly Taylor. Her husband, Adam, is reported by the Sun to be “shareholder and former director of Himley Environmental Ltd which runs a land fill site next to the pub.”
  • 9th August – 2.37pm – Historic England have just confirmed that they received a request to list the Crooked House before the fire, which they were in the process of considering. Tweet here.

The case is treated as suspected arson

  • 9th August – 6.30pm – Police have confirmed they are now treating the case as arson. Police and fire officers were seen investigating the site earlier this afternoon. Watch the ITV News report here.
  • 9th August – the Daily Mail has taken an unsurprisingly Daily Mail angle on the whole story, but one section of their report stood out to me. It would be very interesting to know who their source is and what their relationship is to the story.

A source told MailOnline that the purchase was ‘all about access’ and followed disagreements between the firm and Marston’s over an access road to the pub which they shared.

Read more at MailOnline

A significant cultural moment

  • 10th August 10.30am – You know we have hit an important cultural moment as a nation when Pam Ayres pens a few lines about the situation. It’s clear that the Crooked House has resonance with people up and down the country. Many are expressing surprise that it is a pub that has united us. Having written about the importance of pubs for the last 5 years I am not in the least surprised.
  • Read Pam’s poem here.
  • 10th August – “The new owners of ‘Britain’s wonkiest pub’ destroyed by fire then demolished had also bought and allegedly gutted another traditional pub, it was claimed today” the Daily Mail reports.
  • Watch this space for more from West Midlands Night Time Economy Advisor, Alex Claridge. 14/04/24 – Tweet now deleted annoyingly, it was at https://twitter.com/alex__claridge/status/1689560915094409216. Sad that you can’t screenshot tweets to reproduce really.

The story continues

  • 10th August – The Telegraph reports that the well known antique grandfather clock was removed from the pub sometime before the fire, it appears to have been gone by the first week in August. This article also confirms that the landlord handed over his keys on 18th July.
  • 10th August – a nice piece on the history of the pub and some treasured memories.
  • 11th August – Crooked House owners accused of ripping up woodland to build holiday homes. LBC
  • 11th August – Original bricks and items from the site looted for sale on Facebook, the Express and Star reports.
  • 12th August – Historic England confirm that they feel the pub should be rebuilt

(Apologies for the break in service – I’ve been on my holidays.)

  • 13th August – we’re mostly in the “speculation and commentary” stage now as there hasn’t been anything significant to report. The Independent have focused on the excavator used for the demolition being hired before the fire, which had already been suggested in the press.
  • 14th August – an opinion piece by Simon Jenkins for the Guardian.
  • 14th August – South Staffs Council release a fresh statement.
  • 14th August – The Architects’ Journal – ‘Crooked Houses’s demolition highlights a major deficiency in the UK listing system
  • 15th August – a summary of what we know about the new owner of the Crooked House, with an interesting quote from Marstons that the pub was sold “as a going concern”. I highlight this because so many people have commented “well, if it made any money they wouldn’t have sold it” which is a. not true and b. not actually relevant.
  • 15th August 8.30pm – just adding a couple of observations that had escaped my notice previously. The Crooked House was broken into on the evening of 25th June, as recorded on their Facebook page. They reported it to be “severely damaged internally and externally.” They closed, hoping the repairs would not take longer than 2 weeks. (27th June status) Then, on the 8th July, the status update reads:

Unfortunetly due to the damage done after the break in and now marstons sale of the site I have been told I can no longer trade or operate at this site. This happening so quick and is as much of a shock to myself than it is to everyone else.

The site is made safe

  • 15th August – The Birmingham Mail reports that the site has been fenced off (finally!) at the request of the Health & Safety Executive. Let’s hope that stops people taking ‘souvenirs’ because it’s never going to be rebuilt brick by brick if everyone nicks the bricks.
  • 15th August – Historic England are willing to explore options for rebuilding the site in conjunction with South Staff Council, reports LBC.
  • 16th August – The BBC reports on the Crooked House owners’ links to a previous major fire.
  • 16th August – MP appeals to public to have patience, reported in Shropshire Star.
  • 17th August – A Midlands MP appeals for a ‘Crooked House Law’ at a public meeting, so that heritage venues receive better protection, reports Beer Today.
  • 17th August – The Times reports that the owner of the company who hired the digger to demolish the building (rented before the fire occured remember) is a convicted drug smuggler. He is not suspected of acting illegally in this case. The Times also reports that the owners of the Crooked House are currently MIA.
  • 18th August – Luckily the Mirror is on it, they are on holiday in Corfu.
  • 19th August – The Taylors have told reporters to “piss off and let us have a holiday” because obviously it’s been very stressful to have new property purchase almost immediately burn down and then be bulldozed. That would stress me out for sure.

The Crooked House pervades the popular consciousness further

  • 20th August – Chants about the Crooked House were heard at Wolverhampton’s defeat to Brighton, reports the Express and Star.
  • 21st August – We are to blame for letting pubs go unloved, writes Sathnam Sangera for The Times.
  • 21st August 9.30pm – protesters block the road to the Crooked House to hamper contractors on the site, the BBC reports.
  • 22nd August – the Crooked House has gone, any attempt to rebuild would be a “worthless fake” says one architect.
  • 22nd August – Well, I didn’t expect that. Local paranormal society stages all-night vigil to watch over the carcass of the building, The Guardian reports.

Arrests made

  • 24th August – Two men have been arrested in connection with the fire, The Guardian reports.
  • 25th August – Dudley & South Staffordshire branch of CAMRA are making the Crooked House the symbol of their annual beer festival, CAMRA’s What’s Brewing reports.
  • 25th August 7.50pm -The two men arrested over the pub fire have been released on conditional police bail, the Guardian reports. They were arrested “on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life”.
  • 25th August – Update on the investigation from South Staffs Police.
  • 28th August – Campaigners renew pleas for the Crooked House to be rebuilt on This Morning, the Express & Star reports.
  • 28th August – Police continue to appeal for information about the fire.
  • 30th August – CAMRA pushes for an Asset of Community Value vote to protect the remains of the Crooked House.

My latest article for What’s Brewing

Read about my thoughts on whether the Crooked House can rise again here.

In other news…

  • 31st August – The derelict Windmill pub in St James’s Road, Croydon saw the second floor and roof destroyed in the early hours of this morning, while just streets away, the first and second floors in the Drum and Monkey pub on Gloucester Road were also destroyed in a separate incident. The BBC, amongst others, has reported.
  • 31st August – “Camp Wonky” are at the end of their second week keeping watch over the site, The Guardian reports.

September 2023

  • 1st September – Contractors move off site as ‘ceremony of locks’ due to be held, the Express and Star reports.
  • 1st September – The latest statement from South Staffs Council about the 25,000 bricks that have been salvaged from the site and are undergoing cleaning, plus the ongoing status of their investigation.
  • 2nd September – The padlocking ceremony is held to protect the remaining bricks as some reportedly go for £50 on Facebook (stay classy everyone). The BBC reports here.
  • 7th September – a third man has been arrested under suspicion of conspiracy to commit arson, the Shropshire Star reports.
  • 10th September – Take a look at the footprint of the site – all that remains after the rubble is shifted. Express and Star.
  • 10th September – Now this may just be me, but this article ‘Can fire-hit Crooked House rise from the ashes’ on the BBC seems to share striking parallels to my own piece for What’s Brewing from a couple of weeks ago. But that’s probably just my imagination.
  • 11th September – Really quite disturbing news as the police report they are investigating disorder at ‘Camp Wonky’ over the weekend. The BBC report too, but it doesn’t add a lot to the Police statement.
  • 14th September – Man held over violence at the site.
  • 21st September – Public footpath near the site to be closed off for 6 months due to concerns about the instability of the ground, the Express & Star reports.

List Your Local

  • 23rd September – the List Your Local scheme is launched to encourage West Midlands residents to submit details of pubs they believe to be of historic significance. Head to the WMCA website to add your suggestions.

Two further arrests

  • 28th September – two further arrests have been made on arson related charges, the BBC reports. A woman in her 30s and a man in his 40s, which is interesting.
  • 29th September – The Morning Advertiser have printed a timeline of key events in the Crooked House saga, which is a splendid idea. If only someone else had thought of it at the time, when the fire happened, then kept it updated for the last two months! 😐

October 2023

  • 1st October – the Greyhound and Punchbowl in nearby Bilston, another historic pub, has been severely damaged by fire in another suspected arson attack. Read more here.
  • 3rd October – More mindless vandalism of a listed pub, in a truly WTAF story. The story broke on 29th Sept but I’ve only just seen it. Read about £200k of damage to the Mucky Duck in Notts last week.

Sixth Arrest Made

  • 4th October – I feel like we are going to have to hear more about what’s happening soon – at least I hope so! A sixth arrest has been made in connection with the suspected arson of the Crooked House – a 23 year old man from Leicestershire. BBC News report here.
  • 11th October – The pub that has inherited the wonkiest pub crown, The Twisted Barrel, is now up for sale. At least this one is actually Grade II listed. Read more in the Birmingham Mail.
  • 11th October – A local business has donated some industrial padlocks to help keep the Crooked House bricks safe in their lockup.
  • 13th October – 65 pubs have been suggested for protection under the List Your Local scheme, the BBC reports.

Not much doing at the moment chaps. Rest assured I am keeping an eye out!

  • 19th October – A lovely image of the Crooked House in 1902 shared on Twitter.
  • 25th October – After being listed for sale earlier this month, the Twisted Barrel, Britain’s latest wonkiest pub, failed to sell at auction today, according to the Sun.
  • 25th October – Andy Street reiterates that he believes those responsible for demolishing the Crooked House should be made to rebuild it. See the Express & Star.
  • 27th October – Someone say there’s an election coming? The Leader of the House of Commons visits the Crooked House site. Nothing to see here.

November 2023

  • 4th November – Still quiet on the news front. Staffordshire Police have confirmed that 6 people remain on conditional bail, according to the Birmingham Mail.
  • 8th November – Disappointment at lack of pub protections in King’s Speech reported in the Express & Star.
  • 10th November – Crooked House cards and calendars, made by a printing company and the Save The Crooked House Facebook group, are on sale and selling fast apparently. The Express & Star article is not clear where the profit from these ‘not-for-profit’ merchandise is going. Or if they are being sold at cost. I dunno. *shrugs* Yeah, news is slow in this arena at the moment.
  • 13th November- firm who supplied the heavy machinery for the demolition go into liquidation according to the Express and Star. Of course, no-one would suggest this could be the start of the Curse of the Crooke House. Oh no. Perish the thought.
  • 15th November – Parliamentary debate to be held over heritage pubs in the wake of the Crooked House case, says the Express and Star.
  • 18th November – MP call for more to be done to ‘stop another Crooked House’ reports the BBC.

Update on our friends from Adam & Carly Taylor

  • 22nd November – The Taylor’s have been ordered to stop the illegal demolition of another site in their suite of properties, the Mirror reports. H&S officials have removed permission to demolish a former bank building in Bootle on the grounds that “untrained operatives were at the Giro Building and dangerous asbestos was being disturbed.”
  • 22nd November – Crooked House to be commemorated at Dudley Winter Ales Fayre says the Dudley News. The next day, your intrepid reporter traipses to Dudley to see the models, get the glass and programme and drink the beers.

  • 23rd November – The Tilted Barrel pub has now sold. Read more on the BBC. The new owner will continue to run it as a pub and plans to extend the kitchen area – read more in the Express and Star.
  • 29th November – Campaigners have appealed for help in finding the antique grandfather clock reports the Guardian. It seems strange that they state that the remains were not found among the rubble, when the Telegraph did report that the clock was removed from the site by the first week in August, before the fire, as I recorded on this blog.
  • 30th November – New video showing the current state of the Crooked House site has been released as sections collapse.
  • 30th November – The Crooked House has been rebuilt in a children’s book, reported by the Express and Star.

December 2023

  • 1st December – An “important” update from MP Marco Longhi on his website basically tells us that he’s met with the Council to discuss the ongoing investigation and reports “things are going well” and to “have patience”, without actually giving any information at all. So whether that is an important update I’ll leave up to you to decide.
  • 10th December – One British pub a week is being flattened per week, the Daily Star reports. I’ve been checking in with the North Staffs police website and there have been no news updates on the case for 2 months now.
  • 16th December – On the 180th anniversary of a Christmas Carol’s publication, we’ve got some spooky festive ghost stories from The Crooked House in the Express and Star.
  • 24th December – Meet the man spending Christmas Day defending the charred ruins of Britain’s wonkiest pub – in the Stoke Sentinel.
  • 26th December – Crooked House scandal highlights government inaction over pubs, says CAMRA – read it in the Guardian.

Listen to me elucidate on the above for Radio 4 on Boxing Day here. Skip to 22 minutes 30 seconds for the start of my segment alongside Pam Ayres reading her Crooked House poem.

  • 30th December – Congratulations to Marstons for making it to the Standard’s Corporate Gaffes of 2023 list for their part in the demise of the Crooked House.

2024

  • 10th January – Headlines all over the nationals today for the resignation of Carly Taylor from ATE Farms Ltd according to the Companies House records. Read about it in the BBC and more colourfully in the Mail.
  • 23rd January – Painted rocks featuring the Crooked House are travelling thousands of miles around the globe, spreading the word about the campaign to have the pub rebuilt. Read all about it in the Express and Star.
  • 1st February – Funding has been allocated to preserve 4 historic buildings in the West Midlands in response to the “wake up call” given by the Crooked House. Read more here.
  • 2nd February – Staffordshire Police video released as investigations continue.
  • 3rd February – Where things stand six months since the destruction of Britain’s wonkiest pub, in the Express & Star. Also in the same publication, campaigners hold a memory event. I would point out that they talk about reporting on the identity of the Crooked House owners on August 15th and all credit for that piece of excellent journalism must go to Guardian journalist Jessica Murray who reported the details on August 8th.

Can it really be six months? It is difficult to believe. About a month before the fire, one of my Twitter followers suggested I make a linoprint of the Crooked House, somewhat presciently as it turned out. I didn’t follow up at the time, because to be honest I wasn’t really confident enough to take it on. But I’ve given it a go this week, now we are marking six month since this sorry tale began.

Crooked House linoprint by Laura Hadland
Crooked House linoprint by Laura Hadland, all prints available for sale at shropshiregoat.com/shop
  • 4th February – Campaigners to meet with the group who campaigned for the Carlton Tavern in London to be rebuilt, according to the Express and Star. Plus the BBC shows hundreds flocking to the site over the weekend to mark the 6 month anniversary since the destruction of the building.
  • 5th February – Fresh calls for action six months after pub fire, inspired by CAMRA’s press release, on Planet Radio.
  • 6th February – Future of fire-ravaged Crooked House pub remains unclear six months on. News and video on ITV.
  • 13th February – Some guy in Dudley has made a Crooked House out of Lego. Which if you think hard about it, is really quite the achievement. Check it out in the Express & Star.
  • 14th February – Now this is genuinely interesting. The Express and Star reports that an application has been lodged for the Crooked House to be listed as an Asset of Community Value. This affords some limited protections to buildings (and land) and has been successfully used for pubs in numerous previous cases. But of course, the destruction has already taken place in this scenario. Time will tell, let’s see what comes of it.

MASSIVE NEWS

  • 27th February 2024 will go down as another historic date in this story. South Staffordshire Council has served an enforcement notice on the Crooked House owners requiring the building to be built back to what it was before the fire. They have 30 days to appeal and three years to comply with the notice. This is on all the news outlets, of course, but for posterity here’s a link to the BBC‘s coverage.
  • Read the full text of the enforcement notice on the South Staffordshire Council website here. It is interesting to note this states “The Crooked House was not a listed building, but was a non-designated heritage asset, registered on the Historic Environment Record as a building of local importance.” There has not yet been an update on the six suspects who remain on bail for various arson-related charges from Staffordshire police (at the time of writing 14.45 27/02/24).

NOT “brick by brick”

I haven’t added a huge amount of comment to this timeline so far, but I can already see people mis-attributing the old “brick-by-brick” line to this Enforcement Notice. The wording of the actual notice itself does not say this, and I think it is worth quoting some of the text from the notice to demonstrate this.

Rebuild the Building, located in the position outlined in blue on the Plan attached to this notice, so as to recreate it as similar as possible to the demolished Building as it stood prior to the start of demolition on 5 August 2023.

S Staffs Council Enforcement Notice

They have to rebuild to the “former dimensions and style as a public house” with “all necessary services and utilities.” They have also been ordered to use materials to match the original structure including reclaimed bricks where possible. The notice also, significantly, includes specifically the rebuilding of “three substantial buttresses supporting the gable end.”

Why is this so important? The Carlton Tavern was ordered to be rebuilt brick by brick as it had been properly recorded ready for a listing application to be assessed shortly before demolition. The Crooked House had not been thoroughly recorded in this way. Not to mention the fire and demolition damage. They will need to use some modern materials which closely match the originals, as well as reusing the stored original material to rebuild. But it is clear that the wonky dimensions of the Crooked House are part of this Enforcement Notice. The owners are now charged with rebuilding, as closely as possible, the Crooked House based on the photographic record that exists. And more importantly, it needs to be a fully operational building, with all the necessary services to run it as a pub.

They have 30 days to appeal. So we’ll see what happens next, won’t we.

  • 27th February – Back to the rolling news coverage. “Don’t expect to see the Crooked House rebuilt any time soon” say the Express & Star. A very real warning.
  • 28th February – Happily, people seem to just be cautiously optimistic in response to news of the Enforcement Notice. I’ll admit that it’s certainly the best news we could hope for at this stage, but it’s just the first battle in what will likely be a long war. The BBC reports today that campaigners are vowing to keep up the pressure on this long road.
  • 28th February – There are “ongoing environmental concerns” at the landfill site next door to the Crooked House site. The Environment Agency has issued a fifth enforcement notice in five months to Himley Environmental Limited, the site owners. They have been ordered to manage uncontrolled water run-off and rectify landfill gas leaks reports BNN Breaking. The site is apparently now abandoned. (Laura’s note: You will remember, of course, that one George Adam Taylor, currently the director of ATE Farms who owns the Crooked House site, was previously also, coincidentally, a director of Himley Environmental Limited. He was director when Himley Environmental Limited was incorporated in 2012 and resigned in March 2014. He stopped being a Person With Significant Control in November 2021. Mr Taylor was not a director of ATE Farms when the Crooked House met its end, his wife was. She stepped down as a director in Dec 2023, to be replaced by Mr Taylor. Just making sure everyone’s keeping up.)
  • 28th February – News of the Enforcement Notice for the Crooked House reaches the New York Times.
  • 28th February – Two trees have fallen, blocking the access route to the site, the Express and Star reports, as well as pleas to use 3D scanners in the rebuild.
  • 28th February – LBC have led with a slightly rabble rousing headline – “Inside Crooked House pub owners’ lavish lifestyle.”
  • 29th February – We’re back into a speculation and opinion phase now. The Mirror are also talking about 3D scanning and modelling for rebuilding. Campaigners fear it could be rebuilt straight on LBC (I think that is covered in the enforcement notice, since it has the buttresses etc. detailed and specifies as it was before the fire.)

March 2024

  • 1st March – The Times theorizes on how to rebuild the Crooked House (paywalled).
  • 2nd March – UPDATE: Luke’s been in touch with me to let me know that he identified ATE Farms as the owners of the Crooked House on 7th August, the day before it broke in the Guardian. He’s right, here’s his tweet – which I hadn’t seen until today. He also picked up ATE Farms purchasing land at the adjacent quarry, presumably that which is now seemingly abandoned and has been issued with five enforcement notices from the Environment Agency. An excellent use of a very helpful source which I will be familiarising myself with for future reference, thanks Luke!
  • 3rd March – More commentary on whether the rebuild is possible, but this time from The Guardian, so not paywalled! Also a nice piece from Bloomberg – why do British pubs keep getting demolished and rebuilt? Which is an excellent question. They are also the first people (that I’ve seen) to put a tentative figure on the potential rebuild too. They say £1m or more.
  • 8th March – There are some really nice comments from the owners of the Carlton Tavern in the Birmingham Mail (I think the interview has been syndicated.) Then, inexplicably, loads of useless comments from experts who clearly haven’t bothered to do the slightest bit of reading up on the case before giving an opinion. “I’ve noticed buttresses in the photos of the Crooked House, they may even have to rebuild those!”. Well, uhhh, yeah, since they are specifically detailed in the Enforcement Notice I think everyone already got that…
  • 8th March – Building firm touts for a bit of free publicity by confirming it will bid for the rebuilding project *should it come up for tender*.
  • 12th March – A bit of informed speculation on the geotechnical constraints faced by any rebuild due to the unknown nature of the land itself and how foundations might be worked out. Read in Ground Engineering. And the Prime Minister has sent a letter praising campaigners. Well, the MPs who have been campaigning mainly. So that’s probably not as interesting, but it’s covered by the BBC anyway, if you just like clicking links. Also a nice piece on pub protection on theplanner.co.uk.
  • 15th March – The Crooked House has made the Atlas Obscura weekly round-up, so that’s nice. It in turn links back to the AP news coverage of the enforcement notice from 28th Feb.
  • 21st March – Experts say “rebuild complicated” says the BBC, about 2 weeks after everyone else.

And as expected…

  • 27th March – ATE Farms have filed an appeal against the enforcement notice. Read about it on the BBC and pretty much all the major news outlets. No other news yet, just that we’re waiting for a date for the appeal and a planning officer to be named to adjudicate. Assuming the appeal was submitted today, that was 29 days into their 30 day notice period.

April 2024

  • 4th April – inquest date set to hear the appeal on 23rd July at 10am, reports the BBC.
  • 13th April – Extremely interesting developments regarding the appeal reported in the Telegraph this evening. Too late for me to fully digest and comment tonight (11.40pm) so watch this space.
  • 14th April – 8am – morning all, the documents linked to the enforcement notice appeal are all available on the South Staffordshire Council website here (at the time of writing – once the appeal is over they will undoubtedly move.) Most useful are probably the appeal form and the grounds for appeal. I think I’m going to write my thoughts in a separate post, so I don’t mess with the timeline here (and so I can refer to the timeline while I write!) Edit: It is written but I’ll wait until after the appeal to publish it…
  • 15th April – Bid to move Crooked House attacked, reports CAMRA’s What’s Brewing.
  • 25th April – CAMRA has urged the government to throw its support behind the newly proposed Heritage Pubs Bill. Reported in the Morning Advertiser.
  • 30th April – Well, that’s not fun. The owners have put in an request to delay the inquiry until after any court action is held relating to the fire. I guess the owners know something the rest of us don’t regarding any potential court action relating to the fire, which one might suggest is interesting in itself. But it also means that the hearing of 23rd July now has a seemingly indefinite new date of Spring 2025, and an enforcement order of a fixed 3 year term is presumably now delayed for about an additional year until the appeal is dealt with. Seems like owners one, planning department nil if you ask me so far. But what do I know. Reported on the BBC amongst other outlets.
  • 30th April – Mayor blasts inspectorate for pandering to owners requests, report the Express and Star, as well he might. Because that is what very much appears to be happening.

June 2024

  • 4th June – Just a note to say I’m still keeping my eye on things and there is currently no news to report! The last South Staffordshire Council update was on 30th April about the postponement of the inquiry. There has been no update from the police in recent months.
  • 1st June (picked up later) – An interesting (depressing) parallel – The Punchbowl Inn in Lancashire was demolished by developers in 2021. Five people were fined more than £20k and they were given until March this year to rebuild. Since no work has yet occurred, Ribble Valley Council are seeking a High Court Order to force the developers to begin work on the rebuild. They successfully defended an appeal against the Enforcement Notice in 2023. Read more in Lancs Live.

30th June – all quiet still. I suspect we won’t be hearing any news until well after the election.


What can I do? (Written August 2023)

I am trying to keep on top of events as they unfold. But in the meantime, this case demonstrates starkly the importance of the work that CAMRA do to list pubs. The Crooked House was not yet listed and the building had scant legal protection. Update: It has since emerged it was on the ‘buildings of historic interest’ register.

If you’re feeling angry and frustrated by what may or may not have happened to The Crooked House. If you definitely don’t want lose more historic pubs, then please check out the Pub Heritage Group. Consider volunteering your time and expertise to help them get more pubs listed. Or join CAMRA. Your subs will help to support this campaign and others that they run in support of UK beer, brewing and pubs.



Image of The Crooked House: © Copyright Stephen McKay and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Laura

Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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