The twisted tale of the arson and demolition of Britain’s ‘wonkiest pub’ last year has taken another twist, with the owners ordered to rebuild it back to how it was.

Originally constructed in 1765 as a farmhouse, the structure had been gradually affected by coal mining in the area, and one end of it famously rested 1.2 metres lower than the other side, earning it the unofficial name of “Britain’s wonkiest pub”.

 It became a pub around 1930, dubbed the Siden House, meaning ‘crooked’ in the local dialect. There were plans to demolish it for safety reasons in the 1940s, but a new owner saved the hotel by making necessary changes to keep it safe.

In July 2023 came the news that previous owners Marston’s brewery had sold the establishment to private developers Carly and Adam Taylor, who had plans for its alternative use. This meant it would no longer operate as a pub.  

A few days later, in early August, fire crews from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to extinguish a raging blaze.

Two days after the fire local council met with a representative of the owners. Video later emerged showing construction equipment move in within hours of authorities leaving, to completely demolish what was left of the pub.

Council stated it had not agreed to or required the demolition, describing how the situation as “completely unacceptable”.

Locals were said to be devastated, and police believed the fire was arson and began investigations.

Although not heritage listed, the so-called Crooked House was a feature and tourism drawcard for the town of Himley, which is around 200 kilometres north-west of London.

It later emerged that the new owners had previously stripped the local watering hole in another village after taking it over.

Historic England expressed it was willing to work with the local council on options to restore the site.

Local mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street, pronounced that it should be rebuilt “brick by brick” and called for a ban to be imposed on the site preventing any alternate future.

Street said demolition wasn’t the answer, and that restoration aligned “with community wishes”.

In the months following the fire five men and a woman were arrested, including the husband and wife owners, who were detained on ‘suspicion of conspiracy to commit arson with intent or being reckless as to whether life was endangered’.

Other men, aged 66, 51, 33 and 23 were held on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

Now, council has issued its ordered that the owners rebuild it in all its crooked glory by 2027. The couple have a month to appeal the order.

Anthony Burke, Professor of Architecture, says there are a multitude of issues with rebuilding the pub, but he believes in the message council is trying to send.

Beyond the magnitude of the complexity of re-creating the pub while adhering to modern building rules and standards, with few or no plans of the original structure, Burke suggests the revised hotel will be little more than “fit for purpose” and that forcing its rebuild is really just a punitive measure that won’t actually deliver the restoring of the lost landmark.

Rebuilding the Crooked House will be false authenticity, he says, and there may be better ways to respect the heritage, such as erecting something reusing what bricks remain (after scores of souvenir-taking mourners have visited the site) or incorporating the history in a new design that memorialises the pub.

However, Burke says the order greatly surpasses a mere fine and sends a clear message to those that might do similar, that beloved properties need to be treated with respect.

“There are these types of buildings that have very deep roots in communities and it’s something you can’t just dismiss.”

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