Birmingham and Black Country, UK's Crooked House - Owners of wonky pub ordered to rebuild

The Crooked House, near Dudley, once known as “Britain’s wonkiest pub”, caught fire on Saturday night.

Staffordshire Police and the fire service are trying to establish the cause.

Up to 30 firefighters were called to the building at about 22:00 BST on Saturday, with flames mostly extinguished by Sunday morning.

Photos emerged on social media on Monday afternoon showing a large pile of rubble where the pub once stood, shocking locals and former customers.

The property was built in 1765 as a farmhouse but, due to mining in the area during the early 19th Century, one side of the building began to sink.

The property was a popular attraction in the West Midlands for decades after Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries bought it and converted it into a pub in the 1940s.

Visitors flocked to see the distinctive building and witness the illusion of coins and marbles appearing to roll uphill along the bar.

Video from 1974 (which is when I visited it):

Marston’s listed it for sale in March with a guide price of £675,000. The move was met with a public petition to keep the site as a pub.

Last month, it was confirmed the previous owner Marston’s had sold the Black Country landmark to a private buyer. The sale of the property “as a going concern” was completed two weeks ago.

So far, so good … but:

Former Labour MP for Dudley North, Lord Ian Austin, an independent peer, tweeted it emerged during Saturday’s events the “lane to the pub” was “apparently blocked”. Such circumstances appeared to be corroborated by comments from a firefighter.

Station commander Liam Hilton of Staffordshire Fire Service said “[there were] mounds of mud and soil placed in the centre of the road and covering the whole of [it]”, which meant, he added, that appliances could not gain direct access to the incident.

It is not yet clear who demolished the pub.

Det Insp Richard Dancey, of Staffordshire Police, said: “This incident has caused a great deal of speculation locally and we understand the significance of the building within the local community.”

That’s really sad and if “speculation” is confirmed then I will be very, very angry … :rage:

I was very sad to read this yesterday. I have good memories of going there in the 90s. It was quite a challenge to try to make sense of your surroundings after a couple of drinks.

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Indeed … there were some crazy angles there:



A landmark building that was. What a sad ending .

Yep, a Yamyam place of historic interest, sad loss.

Aww thats a shame…I love eccentric buildings.

Sounds iffy to me.
So sad,i went there half a dozen times and loved it,my sons were mesmerised by it when they were around 8/10.
Such a loss.

I sat at that window Omah,such fun memories.

Considering the timing of the fire soon after the pub was sold to a private buyer for “alternative use” and the access lane being blocked, I can see why there is speculation.
The fire investigation and the insurance company will probably look into how the fire started very closely.

Is the pub in an area where the land for development may be more valuable than the building on it?

The blocked access lane which stopped fire engines getting to the building sounds iffy but may have a perfectly innocent explanation…
I know it is fairly common for vehicular access to pubs which have closed down to be deliberately blocked by the owners.
I have seen this done to quite a few pubs when they have closed down.
If a pub is standing empty and unoccupied, it is a prime target for thieves to break in and strip out fixtures and fittings - even strip out plumbing pipes and anything that can be weighed in for scrap, causing huge amounts of damage to the property.
In recent years, I’ve seen the entrance to several car parks of pubs which have gone out of business being blocked by huge boulders or mounds of earth. I presumed it was to stop thieves driving their vans right up to the property and make it a less easy target.

It was sold as a going concern I think.

Now it’s headline news because someone has gone and bulldozed the burnt remains without permission and the Mayor has said it must be built back brick by brick. There will be so many people upset about this. Can’t think who would want to build in the area, it’s the middle of nowhere. But the developers won’t have much success after this fiasco.

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Demolition of Crooked House pub unacceptable - council - BBC News (includes video “A digger knocks down The Crooked House”

Council officers visited the site on Monday and agreed a programme of works with the land-owner’s representative, council leader Roger Lees said.

“At no point did the council agree the demolition of the whole structure nor was this deemed necessary,” he added.

Mr Lees said the way the situation was managed following the fire was “completely unacceptable and contrary to instructions provided by our officers”, adding the Health and Safety Executive had been notified.

He said the authority’s investigation was at an early stage and asked for time to ensure any future actions were “meaningful and proportionate”.

“The council is incredibly saddened by the loss of the building which, whilst not listed, was a heritage asset and important landmark to the local area and community,” he said.

The investigation continues.

A fire which ripped through a landmark pub days before it was unexpectedly demolished is being treated as arson, police say.

The Crooked House, near Dudley in the Black Country, caught fire on Saturday night and was then bulldozed on Monday, prompting anger from local residents.

The pub, once Britain’s “wonkiest”, was sold by Marston’s last month.

Staffordshire Police said on Wednesday investigations were continuing but the blaze was being treated as suspicious.

In a statement the force said: “Our investigation into a fire at the Crooked House on Himley Road last Saturday continues as we try to understand the circumstances, which we are now treating as arson.”

No surprise there.

The owner of the plant firm that owns the excavator used to demolish the 18th Century Crooked House pub in the West Midlands has denied any involvement in carrying out the work.

A 14-tonne Hyundai excavator pictured on TV knocking down the 18th-century building in the West Midlands bore the logo of Northamptonshire-based plant hire firm Lyndon Thomas.

Speaking to Construction News today, the firm’s owner, Lyndon Thomas, said that the firm had delivered the excavator a week and a half ago - but that a driver was not supplied in the deal.

He said: “If you give me your insurance and all your details and I deliver [equipment] to you and then you just tried to knock down your neighbour’s building , what can I do? I have done nothing wrong. We just hire a digger to a customer. I can’t be responsible for what they do with the machinery.”

Thomas said that the excavator had been provided to a customer which had an account with the company. The firm owner declined to say how much the customer was paying, or to name them.

No questions asked. No names, no pack drill … :zipper_mouth_face:

Marston’s confirms The Crooked House was sold to company linked to landfill firm

PUB company Marston’s has now confirmed The Crooked House was sold to a company linked to the neighbouring landfill firm.

The landmark pub, which was demolished on Monday after a severe fire on Saturday, was sold by Marston’s just over two weeks ago to ATE Farms Limited based in Leicester Road, Bedworth, Warwickshire, it has now been confirmed.

The company, which lists Carly Taylor as a director, shares the same address as Himley Environmental Ltd which runs Oak Farm Quarry Landfill located next door to The Crooked House.

Ms Taylor, aged 34, is also listed as a director of a number of other companies – all of which share the same Colinton House address.

Blimey, the prime suspect is the neighbour (or the owner of it) … :exclamation:

There’s more:


Mrs Taylor’s husband, Adam Taylor, is a shareholder and former director of Himley Environmental Ltd, which runs a landfill site next to the pub.

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.

The Taylors live in a gated compound between Hinckley and Lutterworth in Leicestershire. Mrs Taylor, 34, is a former hairdresser and nail technician used to run her own beauty business in Lutterworth but has since got used to ‘living the high life’. Apparently, she controls a letting and real estate firm called ATE Farms Ltd, is now connected to the Crooked House.

As well as being a shareholder and former director of Himley Environmental Ltd, Mr Taylor, 44, is a former director of ATE Farms. Companies House was informed Mrs Taylor was a person with significant control of the business, meaning she holds at least 75 per cent of the shares, three years ago. In April Mr Taylor was appointed director, replacing his wife, at a building development company which is registered to an office address for ATE Farms in Lutterworth. In June he was reappointed director of a plant hire business based at the same address, where his wife was also formerly a director. Companies House was notified in March that she was a person with significant control of the business.

Could Adam Taylor be the behind the crimes … far be it from me to speculate … :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

did he want rid of it to build on or some other purpose, it was demolished in double quick time ,which i belive the council is up in arms about it …

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I’ve just posted details of his known business connections on my post above yours - he is probably now the prime suspect.

Could this be just a “coincidence”:

Jul 9, 2023

… or was it a ploy to ensure that the property was empty when set alight?

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If the excavator used to demolish the building was hired a week and a half ago and the fire didn’t happen until 5th August, that sounds like something the police will be investigating.
I think the man who owns the plant hire company is right not to tell journalists the details of who hired the equipment - the police are already investigating this matter and no doubt will be interviewing the plant hire owner themselves.

There’s lots of things in this situation that sound highly suspicious but if the police have confirmed they are treating it as arson, they will be conducting their own investigation.
Time for the journalists to back off and leave the “sleuthing” to the professionals, I think.

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