A FORMER landlord and landlady and a man who led a campaign to save the now demolished Crooked House were among more than 100 people who gathered near the rubble to lament the historic pub's destruction.

Tom and Laura Catton, who ran the pub between 2006 and 2008, said their lives would have been very different without the pub.

Tom, who drank a can of Banks's mild amid the rubble as a final farewell to the building, said: "It means so much to us this place. This is where I met Laura. I proposed to her here.

"It held a lot of memories. Even after 15 years away it means a lot to us."

Dudley News: The Crooked House pub pictured earlier this yearThe Crooked House pub pictured earlier this year (Image: SWNS)

Laura said the "crazy" subsidence-hit pub was "wonkier upstairs than downstairs", with Tom adding: "A lot of people thought they were drunk when they walked in because everything was all over the place.

"It doesn't do it justice, the name Crooked House. It had to be seen to be believed and it can't be, unfortunately, any more."

Campaigner Stuart Hall - who set up a Facebook group to campaign for the preservation of the Crooked House as a pub when it was put up for sale by Marston's - was also at the protest and hailed the turnout as brilliant.

Dudley News: People inspect the rubble remains of The Crooked HousePeople inspect the rubble remains of The Crooked House

He said of the last few days: "It was just a shock on Saturday to find out it was on fire - absolutely devastating. I could get emotional, it's terrible.

"My parents used to have a pub in Dudley in the late 60s and early 70s, and they used to bring us here 50 years ago. To see what it's like today is gut-wrenching, it really is."

Dudley News: The rubble remains of The Crooked House pubThe rubble remains of The Crooked House pub

The 59-year-old, whose Facebook group has swelled to more than 6,000 people from around the world since the fire, added: "Pubs - that's a big, passionate thing for Black Country people.

"Yesterday I was at home and people were messaging me on Facebook. About five o'clock last night they just completely destroyed it. Anger was there and I am not an angry person."