Severe fire at derelict pub treated as arson amid fears of people inside

A severe blaze which ripped through a derelict Black Country pub in the early hours of Saturday is being treated as arson.

Fire damage at the derelict Travellers Rest pub, in Great Bridge Road
Fire damage at the derelict Travellers Rest pub, in Great Bridge Road

Fire, police and ambulance crews descended on the Travellers Rest, in Great Bridge Road, on the border of Bilston and Moxley, amid fears that there were people inside.

Four fire crews plus an aerial platform were called out to tackle the fire at around 1am. Police said it was the second arson attack at the premises since Thursday.

West Midlands Fire Service said the fire was on the first floor and in the roof space of the three-storey building.

Crews from Bilston, Willenhall, and Tipton were at the scene..

The fire service tweeted: "All persons are accounted for following search of premises. Police, Amb, electricity, gas board also in attendance, crews damping down hot spots. Aerial also in use."

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Fire Service said: “We were called out to reports of a derelict former pub which was well alight.

“Four appliances from Bilston, Tipton and Willenhall were at the scene, which we were called to at 1.05am and which they left at 5.10am, going back to check at 8.30am.”

“Police were called to the scene, as were the ambulance service, due to us believing there were people within the property.

Fire damage at the derelict Travellers Rest pub, in Great Bridge Road

“The fire was affecting the first floor and the roof of the property, which was derelict and was missing floorboards.

“We isolated everything and because we believed it was arson, we believe there might be people in there, but there wasn’t anyone in the property when we got inside.”

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "We’re investigating suspected arson attacks at a derelict pub in Great Bridge Road, Bilston. Fire broke out at the property at around 7pm on Thursday (29 April) and again at 1am this morning. We’re trying to contact the owners in a bid to make the premises more secure."

A nearby resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It's not the first time it's happened around here as some kids set fire to a tree recently.

"We've also seen kids and young people drinking around there behind the fence, leaving vodka bottles behind.

"Since it closed, it's been a real eyesore, with the flytipping that went on and the issues I mentioned and something like this was inevitable."

Fire damage at the derelict Travellers Rest pub, in Great Bridge Road

Another neighbour said: "I woke up about 5.30 to see flashing lights outside, so had a look and saw fire engines and lots of smoke from the pub.

"It's shocking, but it's not the first time there's been a fire up there and lots of people have been making a serious mess there for ages.

"I hope no one was hurt, but I've seen kids breaking into the site to drink, with some of them even sitting on the roof while doing it."

A third resident added: "My dog was whining at the window around 1am, so I took a look and saw flames coming out of the roof of the pub and fire engines outside.

"It's not surprising to see what's happened as that's been an accident waiting to happen for a while, with people breaking into the site."

Councillor Chris Bott has previously spoken out about the mess left and how it has affected residents

Councillor Chris Bott, who repesents Darlaston South on Walsall Council, said: "We've had a lot of problems on that site, with people coming and using it as a flytipping site, so we'd managed to get it fenced off to stop that happening.

"The concern has since been that a lot of the kids have got on the scene lately, as well as finding there was a rough sleeper stopping in there.

"I'd been in touch with people in the planning department to see if we can get the owner to clean up the site and then get the building demolished.

Fire damage at the derelict Travellers Rest pub, in Great Bridge Road

"However, I then got a call last night about quarter past one from a resident to say the fire had started about 1am and was still burning about 5.30 this morning.

"To me, this is what happens when a site is left derelict. We had the same with the Moxley Arms before Cinnamon Court was built and, for years, people kept buying it and leaving it.

"It's just been an eyesore to the whole area and it's such a shame because there's new houses and we'd welcomed the planning application to develop the site.

"You only hope now that it can be demolished because it's dangerous."

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News