Gone in 48 hours: how fire at 'Britain's wonkiest pub' sparked a criminal probe
The Independent|August 13, 2023
As if it were an old dear friend who had passed away, the remnants of the Crooked House attracted bunches of flowers and sympathy messages from well-wishers devastated by the building’s demise.
JANE DALTON
Gone in 48 hours: how fire at 'Britain's wonkiest pub' sparked a criminal probe

More than 100 people gathered on Tuesday at the rubble of Britain’s “wonkiest pub” to mourn its destruction. Built as a farmhouse in 1765, the Crooked House near Dudley, West Midlands, had a quirk that was probably unique and commanded much affection – its leaning walls created optical illusions such as pennies and marbles appearing to move uphill along the bar.

So when brewer Marston’s closed the pub this year and sold it to a Warwickshire property company for “an alternative use”, it was no wonder residents campaigned for its preservation.

Historic England received a request for the pub near Himley to be given listed status protection, and thousands of locals signed a petition to retain the building as a pub, which had been listed for sale for £675,000.

But before a decision could be made, late on Saturday 5 August – less than two weeks after the sale – the building became a national cause célèbre when it was gutted by fire and reduced to a shell despite the efforts of up to 30 firefighters.

Staffordshire Police and fire chiefs launched an investigation into the blaze – and the fact that mounds of earth had blocked emergency crews’ access to the pub.

Fans of the house were devastated – but worse was to come. Two days later, a mechanical digger moved in to reduce the remaining structure to rubble.

The fire and the building’s rapid destruction ignited widespread speculation. And now, the new owners are facing a series of questions, many from detectives who say they are treating the fire as arson, and who have used a specialist sniffer dog to investigate the grounds.

This story is from the August 13, 2023 edition of The Independent.

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This story is from the August 13, 2023 edition of The Independent.

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