Inside ‘brick-by-brick’ reconstruction of boozer knocked down by developers

A controversially destroyed pub had to be rebuilt brick-by-brick – just like Crooked House campaigners want for their famous boozer.

Speaking to the Daily Star, Greg Mulholland, campaign director for the Campaign for Pubs explained that one destroyed London boozer had been rebuilt with such attention to detail that you would “never know” that it had previously been knocked down. Greg has been in the pub since and was massively impressed by the work done. "I’ve been there since and you’d never know it wasn’t the same pub,” he said.

The news comes as the dust settles on the destruction of the Crooked House, in Himley near Dudley, West Midlands, which burned down and was then quickly demolished. The destruction caused outrage among locals and the nation alike. Now, various pressure groups including one community-led outfit on Facebook called “SAVE THE CROOKED HOUSE (LET'S GET IT RE-BUILT)” have been working tirelessly to get the boozer reconstructed just as it was.

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But despite the high-profile nature of the West Midlands spot, it is not the first to have been the centre of such controversy – and in the past, the calls for reconstruction have won out.

“The tale of The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale is particularly famous, where they were made to be rebuilt brick-by-brick,” Greg explained. He was giving insight into how certain councils have a proven track record in standing up and protecting pubs whereas others have been easier for developers to take advantage of.

The boozer was built in the 1920s and its initial destruction had left locals gutted – surely it was another example of developers riding roughshod over the wants of the community?

Campaigners battled for six years against them, after bulldozers smashed down the wall revealing the pub's decorations still inside. But this time it went in favour of the underdog.

In the end, the developers were forced to rebuild the boozer brick by brick. It reopened in April 2021, despite calling time in 2015 – just two days before it was due to be recommended for Grade-II listed status by Historic England.

Over 5,000 campaigners put pressure on Westminster Council to take action. They even admitted that the demolishers had done a good job of rebuilding it – although drew a line in their appreciation there.

James Watson, Pub Protection Officer for the Campaign for Pubs, told the Star: “The Carlton Tavern is a shining example to all local Councils to take a very firm stand to protect pubs against unauthorised demolition. Following an amazing local campaign, Westminster Council stayed strong throughout, ordering that the pub had to be rebuilt brick-by-brick, seeing off the developer’s legal challenges and ensuring they didn’t drag their heels and wriggle out of their obligations.

"Thankfully on this occasion, the Council’s decision was upheld by the planning inspector showing how a strong, joined up planning approach can work. South Staffordshire Council need to do exactly the same thing with the famous Crooked House in Himley. It needs to be clear to all developers that any unauthorised activity will lead to orders to restore and rebuild pubs.

“We also need a simple change to planning law so that no historic pub can be converted or demolished unless and until it’s been properly marketed as the independently assessed value as a pub for at least a year. Many viable are being cynically targeted as development opportunities and this needs to be stopped so that every pub has the chance of being bought as a pub."

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