|Fire officers and police are refusing to rule out foul play after Sunday’s pub blaze in Newbury town centre.
A 19-year-old girl was left clinging to the pub sign at Uncle Henry’s pub in Marsh Lane, as flames up to 20ft high engulfed the 19th century pub and flat above Ernest Jones jewellery store.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, she was rescued by firefighters while a large group of revellers dodged falling debris. Fire crews from Newbury and neighbouring towns managed to prevent the fire from spreading to Jack of Newbury’s 16th century house on the opposite side of the alleyway, which is one of the town’s oldest buildings.
As a result, thousands of gallons were pumped into the building, leaving a foot of water in the jewellers, damaging much of the stock.
This morning, Marsh Lane remains closed to pedestrians, and fire officers are examining the charred remains to see if any evidence emerges that the pub was deliberately torched.
Less than 18 months ago, a car parts shop less than 100 yards down the road was damaged beyond repair in the dead of night.
Uncle Henry’s is unlikely to be rebuilt, as West Berkshire Council was about to serve a notice forcing landlord Ben Holden to sell the pub, so it could be replaced with a wine bar as part of the Vision 2025 project to redevelop neighbouring Park Way.
In the meantime, around 30 pub regulars have begun fundraising activities, likely to include a charity rock concert, to help the landlord rebuild his life after most of his possessions were destroyed.
Newbury.net will keep you up to speed with developments as they happen.