'THE owners had messed with the wrong community' is the message from campaigners who are delighted at news the Crooked House pub must be rebuilt brick by brick.

Dudley MP Marco Longhi, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, Dudley Council leader councillor Patrick Harley and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said it sends a message to people attacking heritage sites that they will not get away with it.

They praised the strength of feeling for keeping the issue at the forefront of people's minds. 

In a message posted on the Save The Crooked House (Let’s Get It Re-Built) Facebook page, Mr Street thanked the group’s 35,000 members for their “tireless” campaign.

Mr Street wrote: "It's a monumental day in the campaign to get the Crooked House rebuilt.

“South Staffordshire District Council deserve enormous credit for holding their nerve and pursuing this enforcement action.

“However it would never have happened if it wasn’t for the tireless work of each and every one one of you in this group.

"What you have done to keep the Crooked House at the forefront of people’s minds has been exceptional, and as Mayor I want to personally thank you all.

“I said at the time of the tragedy that the owners had messed with the wrong community, and you haven’t half proved that right."

Dudley News: The pub before the fire The pub before the fire (Image: Nick Maslen/Alamy)

Gary Timmins, from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) also welcomed the news.

He said: “The destruction of the Crooked House was a national tragedy, so it’s fantastic news that the owners have been ordered to rebuild the pub brick by brick.

“This is exactly what we were hoping to hear from South Staffordshire Council, and it’s a testament to the hard work of all the dedicated campaigners who stepped up and fought for the Crooked House.

"It’s now vital that systematic change happens, to ensure that the Crooked House is the last time we see such a shocking loss.

"Unfortunately, CAMRA is still investigating eight from 2023 where pubs appear to have been demolished or converted without apparent planning permission.

"We’re calling for Government to bolster planning policy so that unscrupulous developers know they will face action if they breach the law.”

Marco Longhi, the MP for Dudley North, said: “The Crooked House owners are now required to rebuild the site back to its former glory and I will not rest until the Crooked House is built back brick by brick.

“Let this serve as a warning to anyone who wants to launch an attack on our heritage sites – you will not get away with it.”

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the Dudley Council, said: “The demolition caused a lot of upset and hurt in the local community and resulted in the loss of a historic pub loved by so many people.

“This enforcement notice is an important first step in getting that pub back, and that is fantastic news.

“I would like to pay tribute to all the campaigners who have given up their time to ensure this was not swept under the carpet, and they will continue to play an important role in the restoration of the site.”

South Staffordshire Council announced that it had served an enforcement notice on the owners on Tuesday (February 27) giving them three years to rebuild the 18th-century building, known as Britain’s wonkiest pub, back to what it was prior to the suspected arson attack which destroyed it last year.

The owners have 30 days to appeal and the notice must be complied with within three years.

If work is not completed within the time limit, the local authority can prosecute for failure to comply, it added.

The historic pub in Himley was demolished without permission two days after it was gutted by a fire on August 5 last year.

A Staffordshire Police investigation into the circumstances around the blaze continues, and anyone with information is urged to contact the force.

The force previously said that it is treating the blaze as a suspected arson attack.

Five men and one woman were arrested in connection with the fire. They remain on bail pending further inquiries.