Croydon pub fires: Two blazes streets apart treated as suspicious
- By Yasmin Rufo & Harry Low
- BBC News
Two fires at derelict pubs just streets apart in Croydon earlier are being treated as suspicious by police.
The roof of The Windmill pub in St James’s Road collapsed and its second floor was also damaged in the early-morning fire.
At the Drum & Monkey in nearby Gloucester Road, a simultaneous fire destroyed the first and second floors.
The Met Police says it is investigating along with the London Fire Brigade.
Both fires were brought under control by mid-morning.
London Fire Brigade’s Matt Jones said: “From talking to officers and firefighters, I do know they were faced with arduous conditions”.
The Met added: “There have been no reports of injuries on any of the scenes. At this early stage there have been no arrests.”
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The BBC understands both pubs were being used by squatters, and a burning suitcase containing clothes and mobile phones was found nearby.
Local Labour councillor Chris Clark told the BBC: “There are questions to be answered on how two pubs can go on fire in the same night.”
He also told the BBC local residents had been concerned about anti-social behaviour since the pubs fell into disuse.
He said planning applications for both pubs had been submitted to the council and there was “an ongoing discussion on whether a pub should be retained on the sites”.
In 2017, the Local Authority Building Control updated guidance on the demolition of pubs. The regulations now state that planning permission is required for a pub to be torn down.
The Windmill was listed as a residential development opportunity by estate agent Savills in 2021 and has subsequently been sold.
The Drum & Monkey is also up for sale, with Hyde & Rowe estate agents calling the pub a “development investment opportunity” that could include “six apartments with a public house”.
Sheila Lockwood used to live above the Drum & Monkey and told the BBC her sister had her wedding reception there.
She said: “I don’t want to cry but it’s memories. It was our local, very friendly. Very nice people. It’s so sad to see this coming to Croydon.”
Danielle Wilkins, who lives a few roads down from The Windmill, said “some people were living inside the pub” and as a result the building had been “mistreated”.
She says the fires “will affect everyone”.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of public houses and bars in Croydon fell from 105 in 2010 to 80 in 2021.