Demolition machinery has been moved onto the site of the historic 'Crooked House' pub in Dudley this morning, after it was destroyed by a fire on Saturday night (5 August).
Investigations are underway into the cause of a fire which destroyed the much-loved landmark, just days after it was sold.
The pub in Himley was once known as "Britain's wonkiest pub", after it began sinking in the early 19th century.
Police and six fire crews from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue and the West Midlands FireService attended the blaze, after fire fighters were called to Himley Road around 10.45 on Saturday night.
Roads including the B4176 Himley Road at Gornal Wood were closed in both directions in the early hours, as motorists were diverted away from the scene.
The fire comes days after it emerged Marston's had sold the pub to a 'private buyer for alternative use'.
Why was the Crooked House famous ?
The Grade-II listed building dates back to 1765
It started sinking into the ground due to mining subsidence in the area, and became known as 'the wonky pub' across the West Midlands and beyond
It became a pub in around 1830, and according to locals it was known as The Siden House, with "siden" meaning "crooked" in the local Black Country dialect
Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries bought it and converted it into a pub in the 1940s
Visitors could see the illusion of coins and marbles appearing to roll uphill along the bar
"What a tragedy"
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said on social media that there were questions to answer over the incident. He wrote:
"A lot of questions surrounding the Crooked House fire that need answering, and I'm sure the authorities will get to the truth.
"Today all we can say is what a tragedy, and I sincerely hope this iconic Black Country landmark can be restored and preserved".
Marston's said that the building had been on the open market since the beginning of the year. A spokesperson for the company said:
"The sale of the Crooked House, as a going concern, was announced in January this year on the open market.
"It was well-publicised and completed two weeks ago.
"We are shocked and disappointed to learn about the fire which has caused so much damage to a landmark building which is so well known in the area."
Lord Ian Austin, an independent peer and former Labour MP for Dudley North, tweeted on Sunday that "the lane to the pub [was] apparently blocked" during the blaze, and urged the emergency services to "investigate and prosecute".
Thousands sign petition to keep the pub open
A petition to keep the Crooked House open had gained nearly nine thousand signatures, of which almost 4,000 came on Monday after the fire.
Speaking before the blaze, Paul Turner, who started the initiative, said it would be a "tragedy if this wonderful tourist attraction is lost" and that selling or demolishing the site "would mean the loss of this iconic and beautiful building".
Teams at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley were among the many local voices to share their sadness at the plight of the pub.
In social media posts they said described the blaze as "devastating news" and responded to calls from social media users to rebuild the building on their site.
Firefighters worked through the night to try and put out the blaze, with thick flames and smoke seen from miles away.
No-one was reported to have been injured.
Staffordshire Police said officers and fire investigators are now working to establish the cause of the fire. They said:
"We are appealing for information after a fire at a derelict building in Himley late Saturday evening.
"Officers were called to a report of a fire at what used to be the Crooked House pub on Himley Road at 10.45pm.
"Crews from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service were already in attendance and had extinguished the blaze.
"No-one was believed to be inside the building and no-one has been reported injured.
"We are now working with fire investigators to establish the cause of the fire.
"Fire investigators are inspecting the scene and officers are making local inquiries to secure any information that might help the investigation.
"Anyone who may have any information that could help with the investigation are asked to get in touch".
A Facebook post from The Crooked House on 27th July said:
"The Crooked House has been sold. Unlikely to open its doors again.
"Marston's have sold the site to a private buyer for alternative use, that is all we know."