Owners ordered to rebuild the Crooked House pub in England, brick by wonky brick

Crooked House pub in South Staffordshire was burned down and then demolished last year

The owners of the Crooked House pub, which was burned down and then demolished last year, have been ordered to rebuild it in its original form after being issued an enforcement notice for unlawful demolition.

The mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said the news marked a “monumental day” in the campaign to rebuild the 260-year-old pub in Himley, famous for its wonky floors.

“They have been ordered to rebuild the pub back to what it was before the fire, just as we’ve been lobbying for,” he said.

The enforcement notice, issued by South Staffordshire district council on Tuesday, states that the building must be “built back to what it was prior to the fire” within three years. The owners have 30 days to appeal against the notice.


The council said it had engaged with the owners since the demolition but the situation had “reached a point where formal action is considered necessary”.

The leader of the council, Roger Lees, said: “We have not taken this action lightly, but we believe that it is right to bring the owners, who demolished the building without consent, to account and we are committed to do what we can to get the Crooked House rebuilt.”

Paul Turner, a local resident who has helped to spearhead the campaign for a rebuild, said he was “absolutely delighted” by the news.

“This is what we’ve been looking for, and we’re really happy we’ve now got the law on our side,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it’s going to be straightforward and fast. We’ve got the bricks stored in containers but we don’t know how quick and easy it’s going to be with the compliance from the owners.

“We can’t get too excited too quickly, but we are delighted.”

If the owners do not appeal and fail to rebuild the pub, the council can prosecute for failure to comply.

In a message posted to a 35,000-strong Facebook group pushing for the pub to be rebuilt, Mr Street said: “What you have done to keep the Crooked House at the forefront of people’s minds has been exceptional, and as mayor I want to personally thank you all.

“I said at the time of the tragedy that the owners had messed with the wrong community, and you haven’t half proved that right.”

He also said South Staffordshire district council deserved “enormous credit for holding their nerve and pursuing this enforcement action”.

The Crooked House pub was gutted in a fire on August 5th last year, in what was suspected to be an arson attack, nine days after being sold to new owners. The rest of the building was demolished without permission less than 48 hours later, prompting a national outcry and calls for better protection for heritage pubs.

The brewery Marston’s had sold the pub to ATE Farms, which has connections to a number of other businesses, including the company that runs a landfill site next door.

Politicians and local campaigners have been pushing for the pub to be rebuilt brick-by-brick, pointing to the Carlton Tavern in west London, which was rebuilt “in facsimile” after its demolition and reopened in 2021, as evidence it can be done.

Originally built as a farmhouse in 1765, The Crooked House is thought to have been a pub since about 1830. Its lopsided appearance was caused by mining subsidence that had caused it to sink – it was scheduled for demolition in the 1940s before the wonky building was made safe with reinforcements.

The pub had become a popular tourist attraction in the area and visitors recalled how they would be given a marble to roll along the bar that appeared to be rolling uphill.

Police have a made a number of arrests in connection with the Crooked House pub fire, which they are treating as arson.

A woman (34), and two men, aged 44 and 23, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit arson with intent or being reckless as to whether life was endangered, and three other men, aged 66, 51 and 33, were held on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. All were released on conditional bail. - Guardian