Why A Shelter May Be Useful At The Crooked House

ST8H Exterior shot - PVC Fabric Shelter Tent with ShelterIt Logo

The use of PVC fabric shelters can be very beneficial at busy construction or demolition sites, particularly if people are there for long periods or constant security is needed for any reason. That can be true at any time of year, but even more so as autumn approaches.

A place where this may be particularly true is the site of the recently destroyed Crooked House near Himley in Staffordshire.

Built in 1765, the pub, famous for its ‘wonky’ alignment after it subsided due to nearby mine workings during its original life as a farmhouse, was controversially sold in July by owners Marston’s for ‘alternative use’ and then, shockingly, burned down and then demolished.

The incident has been treated as a major scandal, with Police treating the fire as arson (two men have been arrested and questioned) and South Staffordshire Council said they had not given permission for a full demolition of the building, which took place two days after the fire.

Due to the hurried nature of the demolition and apparent lack of safety measures (including those undertaking it being videoed without PPE) the council and the controversial owners of the site, who have links to a neighbouring landfill site, agreed to the ruins being cleaned up.

However, with a major local campaign having begun to have the iconic pub rebuilt, contractor Putnams were treated with hostility when they first arrived on site. After explaining their role to campaigners, they have carried out work to clean asbestos cement off bricks and stack them in pallets to remain at or near the site while its future is determined.

While this goes on, campaigners – aided on one occasion by local ghost hunters – have stayed on site 24/7, with makeshift shelters in place. But as summer turns to autumn, something more substantial may be needed if the vigil is to be maintained through the coming months.

The process of determining what ultimately happens to the site may take years rather than months. While a criminal investigation is taking place and the council is looking into the legality of the demolition, there is also the possibility of a legal battle with the owners over the next steps.

However, there is a precedent for an illegally demolished pub to be rebuilt. This happened to the Carlton Tavern in London after it was demolished by its owners without permission. Westminster City Council, which was due to give the building listed status, ordered it to be rebuilt brick-by-brick. The campaigners in the Midlands hope for the same result.

Given the local passion, as well as substantial political backing ranging from Dudley North MP Marco Longhi to West Midlands Mayor Andy Street (the pub actually lies a few yards outside the Metropolitan county boundary), it is clear the campaigners are in no mood to go away, metaphorically or, it appears, physically, although cold winter days may test them.

For that reason, it may be that shelters and all sorts of other structures will appear around the site, as it becomes a scene of protest, a shrine and a place to stand guard all at once. The pub may have been crooked, but the presence of some very sturdy and upright shelters may be both desirable and necessary in these extraordinary circumstances.

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