Monday, 24 Jun 2024

Protesters block the road as diggers arrive at the Crooked House rubble

Protests have been held at the site of Britain’s former ‘wonkiest pub’ as contractors arrived with diggers.

The beloved Crooked House near Dudley in the West Midlands burned to the ground on August 5 in what police suspect was an arson attack.

The pub’s wonky shell was demolished within two days of the blaze.

On Monday, protesters blocked a lorry owned by a construction company from arriving on site, as staff and machinery from a specialist demolition and waste management firm started to arrive.

South Staffordshire Council, which previously described the full demolition of the pub as ‘unacceptable’, said it was liaising with the contractor.

It added in a statement: ‘The council is aware of a contractor onsite and is engaging with the site owners and contractors to investigate what works are taking place.

‘We are still currently ascertaining all the facts so cannot comment any further on this specific matter.

‘The council is still investigating the full incident and formalising next steps and we cannot comment on any element of the ongoing investigation, so that we do not potentially prejudice our enforcement action.

‘We will provide updates on our website as soon as we are able.’

While more than a dozen campaigners demanded access to the lane leading to the rubble to witness the work taking place, two sat in the path of a lorry and trailer exiting the site, and another vehicle attempting to enter Crooked House Lane.

Holding a protest banner, Jane Baker, from nearby Halesowen, said: ‘We’re doing this, and all the people who have arrived today, because we care very much about our heritage, our history and the Crooked House.

‘She’s always stood there at the bottom of this lane. She means a lot to us all. What’s happened is wrong and we need to make a stand, all of us.

‘We just want her back where she was. It’s affected all of us, far and wide. We just want it rebuilt – by hook or by crook.

‘We’re making a stand for a very iconic building. This is why we are sitting in the road.’

Dudley North MP Marco Longhi urged anyone with concerns about issues at the site to continue to report them to his office.

Staffordshire Police said it had received reports that a group of protesters had turned up at the site and officers were ‘in attendance as a precaution and to reassure the community’.

The force said: ‘We recognise the strength of local feeling following the loss of a significant cultural landmark.

‘Our investigation is live and ongoing. A CCTV trawl, forensics and witness accounts continue to be worked through as we try to piece together the circumstances which led to the fire.’

There haven’t been any arrests in relation to the arson investigation.

While considered a local landmark, the Crooked House was not a listed building.

The pub burned down just days after an announcement that it would no longer operate as a pub, having been sold to private owners.

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