White Horse fire warning made a year before blaze destroyed historic pub
PUBLISHED: 17:00 25 September 2020
A warning about the risk of fire at a disused pub was made one year before a blaze destroyed it.
A meeting at Barking Town Hall on September 16, 2019, heard a fire “could easily happen” at The White Horse in High Road, Chadwell Heath.
The warning came from Andy O’Sullivan, who had been lined up to take on the pub near St Chad’s Church, at a planning committee meeting which saw a scheme to build homes on the site approved.
Mr O’Sullivan, speaking in favour of the bid, said at the time: “The whole site is a mess. There’s lit fires in there all the time. There’s junkies out the back.
“The fire brigade have been called there twice. If there’s another fire there, the gardens are overgrown, the church could go up as well as the gardens. It could easily happen.”
About 40 firefighters fought the flames for almost three hours at the 400-year-old, locally listed pub in the early hours of Sunday, September 20. No one was injured.
Investigators have been unable to figure out the cause because of how severe the damage was to the two-storey building.
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Mr O’Sullivan, speaking to the Post, said: “I knew it would go up. I’m the only one with keys to the front door. I bricked up the windows and within a week someone had put a sledgehammer through the back windows.
“Every time I went in, furniture had been moved. People were living upstairs. There were ashes in the two fireplaces and lots of mattresses upstairs.”
The pub was a magnet for anti-social behaviour with youngsters getting on the roof and throwing tiles off, Mr O’Sullivan added.
But the granting of planning permission had thrown the pub a lifeline with a guarantee from the site’s owner to restore it as part of a redevelopment which would see more than 50 homes built on the site.
READ MORE: White Horse pub to return to its ‘former glory’ despite fears for St Chad’s remembrance garden
“I said this place will go up and that’s where we are today. It’s gutting, absolutely gutting. It has to be rebuilt. It was a great pub and still could be,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
And on the future, he added: “I’m totally unsure at the moment.”
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