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The White Horse pub fire sees 400 years of history ‘go up in flames’

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 September 2020

Firefighters battle the flames at the historic pub, which had become a magnet for anti-social behaviour after its doors closed about three years ago. Picture: CHSRA

Firefighters battle the flames at the historic pub, which had become a magnet for anti-social behaviour after its doors closed about three years ago. Picture: CHSRA

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Four hundred years of history have gone up in flames.

The White Horse had survived for 400 years, but the fire left most of it in ruins. Picture: LBBD Archives/Valence HouseThe White Horse had survived for 400 years, but the fire left most of it in ruins. Picture: LBBD Archives/Valence House

That’s the message from Rama Muraleetharan who chairs Chadwell Heath South Residents’ Association, speaking after fire gutted The White Horse pub in the High Road on Sunday, September 20.

Mr Muraleetharan said: “Four hundred years of history destroyed in flames. We are all sad to see Chadwell Heath lose another of its famous landmarks.

“The White Horse brought our community together for so many generations. This locally listed building and its beautiful gardens should never have been neglected and left to deteriorate.”

About 40 firefighters fought the flames at the historic venue for almost three hours with 10 calls made to the brigade to report the blaze.

The White Horse's famous sundial. Picture: LBBD Archives / Valence HouseThe White Horse's famous sundial. Picture: LBBD Archives / Valence House

Jon Bevis, who was a pub regular and whose father’s ashes are buried at the garden of remembrance next door, said: “It’s devastating. It should be rebuilt and the history kept there.

“It’s frustrating because it was left derelict all that time. It’s part of Chadwell Heath’s history and we’re losing that.”

The former coaching inn along the London to Colchester route was a convenient coach stop, bringing trade into the area. It was known for its garden, stables, livestock, sundial and terrace.

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The first known landlord was Edward Crowe. In 1621, another landlord, Goodman Norris, was prosecuted for keeping a “common bowling alley with many unlawful games as carding and dicing”, according to Tony Clifford’s Dagenham Pubs Past and Present.

However, after its doors closed for the last time it became a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

Mr Muraleetharan said: “There are barely any historic buildings and monuments left in Chadwell Heath. More protection and preservation planning, that involves the community, is required.

“The demand for restoration and a reopening of The White Horse has always been there and the developers were aware of this.”

The pub was gutted by fire in the early hours of Sunday, September 20. Picture: Lindsay JonesThe pub was gutted by fire in the early hours of Sunday, September 20. Picture: Lindsay Jones

Ebury Holdings’ plan to build more than 50 homes on the site, while restoring the pub, was approved in May, subject to legal agreement.

Mr Muraleetharan added that time would tell whether Barking and Dagenham Council will act using section five of its Preserving Public Houses Supplementary Planning Document issued in 2014.

The document outlines the town hall’s commitment to saving the borough’s pubs.

Paul Scott, who is a member of the Save the White Horse campaign group, said: “It’s awful what happened. Every effort should be made to save it.”

The old White Horse pub in HighRoad, Chadwell Heath, was gutted by fire at the weekend. Picture: Lindsay JonesThe old White Horse pub in HighRoad, Chadwell Heath, was gutted by fire at the weekend. Picture: Lindsay Jones

Ebury Holdings did not respond to a request for comment.


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