Rebuilding The Crooked House could take three years and cost millions, warns expert
Rebuilding the Crooked House is possible, but would likely take up to three years and cost up to £3 million, says a leading expert.
Danny Bennett, director of Aldridge-based Farcroft Restorations, said similar projects had been undertaken successfully elsewhere in the country.
But he said only people living in the immediate community could decided whether rebuilding the Crooked House would be worthwhile. An alternative might be to recover the remains of the pub and use it to create a new building, he said.
Farcroft, which has been going for 55 years, has been involved in a number of high-profile restorations of historic buildings, including that of Wythenshaw Hall, near Manchester, for which it received an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects. The company also restored the chandeliers at Birmingham Town Hall and the HMRC building at Westminster.
The fire and subsequent demolition of the 258-year-old pub have sparked worldwide interest, with many people – including West Midlands mayor Andy Street – calling for it to be rebuilt. There have also been calls for it to be relocated to the Black Country Living Museum, although chief executive Andrew Lovett has ruled that out.
Rebuilding old pubs after unauthorised demolition – which appears to be the case with the Crooked House – is not without precedent.
There is a precedent for this. The Carlton Tavern pub in Maida Vale, London, was demolished without permission in 2015. Westminster City Council ordered that it be rebuilt exactly as it was, and it reopened on April 12, 2021.
Mr Bennett said he had been watching the situation with considerable interest. But he said the demolition work which took place on Monday last week would make the project much harder.
Mr Bennett said the damage caused by the bulldozers would inevitably place some constraints on what could be done.
He said: "Could you recreate the building from its remains? Yes. Could you get it 100 per cent accurate? No."
Mr Bennett said restoring the building after the fire, prior to last week's demolition, would have been a far simpler task. It could also have been preserved as a ruin, as had been done elsewhere.
"It's not terribly unusual to build a replica based on the original design, using exactly the same methods," he said.
"You would want to keep the original materials where possible.
"It's amazing what you can pick up from the remains, and if you can find old drawings.