UK

MP demands better protection for heritage pubs after Crooked House ‘tragedy’

The demolished Crooked House pub near Dudley, West Midlands (Matthew Cooper/PA)
The demolished Crooked House pub near Dudley, West Midlands (Matthew Cooper/PA) The demolished Crooked House pub near Dudley, West Midlands (Matthew Cooper/PA)

Heritage pubs should be better protected as the “tragedy” that struck the Crooked House in the West Midlands is an “ongoing trend”, an MP has said.

The wonky 18th century Crooked House pub, in Himley, burned down on August 5 and was totally demolished without permission two days later, with Staffordshire Police treating the fire as arson.

Campaigners are calling for it to be rebuilt.

Conservative Marco Longhi, who represents Dudley North, said the events “struck a very real chord of sadness and anger” among his constituents.

Speaking during business questions, he asked the Commons Leader for a debate to see “what this place can do to better protect these heritage pubs”.

He argued “this is an ongoing trend across the country”.

Mr Longhi said: “The Leader of the House may be aware of a tragedy that struck a very real chord of sadness and anger amongst my Dudley constituents, the wider Black Country, nationally and indeed internationally.

“The building known as the Crooked House pub was built in 1765.

“It was symbolic of the region’s industrial heritage and home to tens of thousands’ individual personal memories.

“Soon after its sale, the Crooked House was subjected to an arson attack, followed by unlawful demolition, notwithstanding the local council’s instructions not to do so.

“This is an ongoing trend across the country. Can we have a debate please in Government time to see what this place can do to better protect these heritage pubs?”

Penny Mordaunt replied: “Can I thank him for raising this important point and I hope that the approval for the question that I have just heard across the floor of the House was audible because I think and I hope I speak for all of us, this appalling incident that is subject to still a police investigation, where also roads to the pub appear to have been blocked to prevent emergency vehicles from getting to the scene of the fire.

“I think I hope I speak for all us when I say this is an absolutely appalling and disgraceful situation.

“I was encouraged by the statement that Andy Street (Mayor of West Midlands) put out to say that this is going to be dealt with and if it turns out that there has been foul play, people will be held to account and I’m sure that if he applied for a debate, it would be extremely well attended and he has the support of everyone in this place.”

A 66-year-old man from Dudley and a 33-year-old man from Milton Keynes were arrested on suspicion of arson and freed on bail at the end of August.

Staffordshire Police said detectives were continuing to trawl through CCTV, forensics and witness accounts.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of the West Midlands issued a call for the subsidence-hit pub to be rebuilt brick by brick.

He also urged local residents and former patrons of the pub to avoid taking items from the ruins to maximise the chances of it being rebuilt.