The culprits behind the suspected arson attack on “Britain’s wonkiest pub” must “pay for what they have done,” former staff have said.
Police are investigating the blaze which gutted the 18th-century Crooked House pub in the Black Country last week.
A bulldozer demolished the remains of the building, despite instructions from the local authority to only pull down the top floor for safety reasons.
Former regulars and the local MP have called for the pub, which earned its nickname after mining subsistence made it slant to one side, to be rebuilt brick by brick.
The pub’s former landlord and other staff are at a loss as to why anyone would try to burn down the popular tourist attraction.
Lee Goodchild, its most recent landlord, told Sky News: “To see social media when you open your eyes at 5am on a Sunday morning, a burning building that you ran two, three weeks before.
“I didn’t even believe it, I thought somebody had doctored an image. Then obviously there were lots of calls and messages coming through.
“I actually thought ‘do you know what – whatever the reason is this has happened or how this has happened, it could be rebuilt or restructured.
“And then a day later all of a sudden now it’s a pile of rubble. Whoever is to blame needs to be accountable.”
Amanda Inkersole, who used to work in the pub for 10 years in the 1980s and 90s added: “I was gutted really because it’s nothing now is it?
“We’d like it to be rebuilt and somebody needs to pay for what they’ve done. Somebody needs to be held accountable for it.”
Dogs trained to detect accelerants were deployed to the site in recent days to help the police and fire brigade investigate the cause of the fire, which happened just a week after an application was made to give the Crooked House listed building status.
It has since emerged that the fire brigade’s attempts to put out the blaze were hampered by a large mound of earth that was blocking access to the site when they arrived on Saturday night.
A watch commander at Tipton fire station said his firefighters had to use 40 lengths of hose to get to the blaze because of the obstruction.
Witnesses said security guards with dogs turned up at the site on Monday before the digger moved in and demolished the Crooked House.
Staffordshire Police confirmed in a previous statement they were treating the blaze as arson.