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Why A ‘Brick-By-Brick’ Rebuild Requires A Lot Of Cleaning

There are many circumstances in which a building needs its brickwork cleaning, but few are more notable than when it has suffered fire damage.

While this kind of work may be connected with some partial rebuilding and substantial safety checks to ensure the integrity of the building, a complete rebuild may be taking a step further.

However, just such a possibility has been mooted - and much debated - following the destruction, first by fire and then by digger, of the Crooked House pub in Staffordshire, shortly after brewers Marston’s sold it for non-pub use to a firm with connections to an adjacent landfill site.

With the police treating the blaze as arson and having made arrests, while South Staffordshire Council said the subsequent demolition was carried out without permission, a campaign has started for its restoration brick-by-brick, emboldened by the legal precedent of the Carlton Tavern in Westminster, reconstructed by court order after its illegal demolition.

Already steps have been taken at the Crooked House site to salvage the bricks, remove any hazardous substances and lock them away in nearby containers.

If the old pub is to be rebuilt brick-by-brick, this may require more cleaning both of the salvaged bricks, with many likely to be bearing the marks of the fire, as well as those still standing in what remains of the demolished building, the clumsy destruction work having failed to raze all of them to the ground.

The question of what happens next has raised wider debates in construction and architectural circles, not least because of the building’s unique character, caused by mining subsidence that caused its lean.

For instance, an article in Building Design Magazine recently argued against any ‘modernist dogma’ that would prevent the rebuild of the Crooked House and other buildings like it, based on the notion that any reconstructed building would somehow lack authenticity (another writer for the same magazine had argued against a “worthless fake” rebuild).

What is agreed is that, technically, it can be done; and with the right repair work, the bricks that made up ‘Britain’s wonkiest pub’ may yet be cleaned and standing tall (albeit with something of a lean) again one day.

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