Emergency services were called to an historic pub in Leamore, near Bloxwich, on Wednesday evening when a blaze was reported. From around 6pm for about two hours, the centre of Leamore was sealed off by police cars, and buses to Walsall were being diverted down Harden Road, causing tailbacks and confusion.
According to first local reports, a large fire had taken hold on the first floor of The Black Horse, on the corner of Bloxwich Road and Harden Road, and a man was believed to be inside the building at the time.
It is now possible (17/3/2011) however to confirm that in fact there was no person or animal involved in the fire, and that the person initially suspected of being a victim is in fact in prison. The blaze, we now know, was certainly the result of intruders breaking into the upstairs bedroom of the building and deliberately setting fire to the residential area of the pub at around 6pm.
The incident was attended by at least two arson investigation and fire vans, together with three fire engines and three Walsall police cars who cordoned off the danger area, diverting traffic. Most of the damage to the building is inside, and the roof appears from external observation to be intact. Burnt furniture is visible on a flat roofed extension at the rear. Entrances have now been sealed with padlocks.
The Black Horse, a classic Edwardian pub that has seen better days since being built around 1900, has been closed since mid-2010, a victim of the economic downturn which has shut so many pubs in Bloxwich and Walsall over the past few years. The building is of historical interest but probably due to alterations is only on the Local List, which does not offer the more substantial protections afforded Statutory Listed Buildings.
The once-popular watering hole is the second closed historic pub to suffer a fiery fate in recent months; The Bull’s Head in Park Road, Bloxwich, the second pub of that name on the site and dating back to the late 1920s, was destroyed by fire in suspicious circumstances, having been broken into over the Bonfire Night weekend last November.
Only one pub now remains open in Leamore – the 1960s-built Railway Inn.
Our thanks to Josh Williams of Bloxwich for background information and Craig Smith for the photo above. Also to West Midlands Fire Service and Walsall Express & Star for updated information.
Photos taken the day after the fire may be viewed on Flickr here.