Two men have been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life following the fire at the Crooked House pub in Himley, near Dudley, earlier this month.
The arrests of the man, aged 33 and 66, were confirmed by Staffordshire Police. No further information is available at this time. Around 30 firefighters were needed to tackle the fire at the pub, which broke out on Saturday 5 August. The building was subsequently demolished two days later. Social media footage posted online showed a mechanical digger being used to reduce the remaining structure of the pub to rubble.
Two days after that police confirmed they thought the blaze was started in an arson attack. At the time, Staffordshire Police said: “This fire has shocked and upset so many given the, albeit not listed, cultural importance and heritage of the building. This is not lost on us and a robust investigation using all available information and forensic opportunities is being carried out. We have spoken to, and continue to engage, with the owners. However, speculation is extremely unhelpful and could hinder our investigation.”
The fire came just two weeks after the 18th-century building was sold by pub company Marston’s to a private buyer. The pub became a popular local landmark due to one side being significantly lower than the other, caused by the effects of nearby mining.
The quirky pub had attracted visitors from across the world due to its unique leaning effect - making it look like it is about to topple over. The building was constructed in 1765 as a farmhouse but became a pub in the 1830s with people flocking to see how one side is 4ft (1.2m) lower than the other.
The pub had been closed prior to its sale due to damage from a July break-in and a petition had been created and signed by many locals who wanted it to re-open.
Investigations surrounding the exact cause of the fire are ongoing. Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Chisholm, head of specialist crime at Staffordshire Police, said earlier this month: “We understand the significance of this much-loved building, and the upset and anger felt by many, so want to reassure you we’re doing all we can to understand more about what happened and who was responsible.
“There is lots of misinformation circulating within communities and online, and this is unhelpful. We’re trying to provide accurate and timely updates, but as I am sure you can appreciate there is a lot of work and liaison with a number of partners which needs to be completed, and this takes time.
“There are also certain things that police and fire do not have the powers to deal with, the decision around partial demolition of the building, for example, when the scene was handed back to the owner. We are working hard with our fire colleagues to understand the cause of the fire and are in contact with the landowner, we will keep you updated with any further significant developments."