Destruction of historic pub felt deeply by local cricket club and community

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

Mitcham residents have called for Merton council to buy up the Burn Bullock pub from owners following last weekend’s devastating fire.

Local activists have also warned the nearby cricket club is at risk of a similar fate unless action is taken.

The fire ripped through the Grade-II listed pub last Friday evening. Twelve fire engines and about 80 firefighters fought back the blaze for three hours, but not before it caused extensive damage to the building, some of which dates back to the 16th century.

The Burn Bullock, named after the famous cricketer associated with nearby Mitcham Cricket Club (MCC), became a local landmark thanks to its proximity to the historic cricket green opposite.

However, the pub has sat unused for the past decade, and has attracted squatters, graffiti, and fly-tipping in the intervening years.

In a statement published on X, the cricket club said said: “We are horrified by the tragic destruction of the Burn Bullock pub, although extremely relieved that no one was hurt.

“Fortunately, our historic cricket pavilion has not been damaged. It does, however, seem like the upstairs function room in the Burn Bullock where the Cricket Scorers and Umpires’ Association was formed has now been lost.”

On the day of the incident, the club posted pictures of the blaze accompanied by the caption: “A black day for Mitcham…Disgracefully neglected for years.”

The pub was purchased by Phoenix Investments Group Limited in 2009 for a reported £450,000. The company, listed in Mitcham, own a number of other historical assets in the area including the nearby Windmill pub.

Kam Baig, of the Phoenix group, said: “I’m shocked but there is an investigation going on so I cannot comment any more.”

Mitcham residents have suggested that the owners have neglected the pub in recent years, with some calling for Merton council to take control of the pub via compulsory purchase.

The call for action from the council has been led by the Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage Group (MCGCH), who aim to protect the historic character of the area.

Its chairman, Tony Burton, said: “After years of neglect, this needs to mark a turning point for this historic site. The future of the much loved coaching inn and the tradition of cricket on Cricket Green are both at stake.

The Burn Bullock has sat unoccupied for the past decade, and has since attracted squatters and fly-tipping. (Picture: Google Street View)

“We can no longer leave the future of the Burn Bullock and Mitcham cricket pavilion to the site owners and Merton council should step in and take the lead.

“It is imperative that future plans include securing the future of Mitcham cricket pavilion in community hands. Cricket has been played in Mitcham longer than anywhere else in the world and we need to guarantee its future.”

In addition to calling for compulsory purchase, the MCGCH has also called for Merton council to issue the owners with a “repairs notice” to ‘put right the “damage” caused by the fire.

Merton council now says it is “determined to explore all options available to us to help preserve the building once the investigation by the emergency services has been concluded.”

Hannah Doody, chief executive of the local authority, said: “Merton council recognises the huge community impact caused by the devastating fire. We are relieved that nobody was injured.

“Council officers worked with the emergency services throughout the evening to help make the area safe. Our immediate priority was supporting the occupants of the building with emergency accommodation, food and clothing.

“Our other priority is site safety. This is the responsibility of the landowners, and we have issued a notice requiring them to make the building and site permanently safe. However, we have undertaken urgent initial safety work in the meantime.

“We will be meeting Historic England this week to begin assessing the extent of the damage and seeking their advice on how to prevent the building from deteriorating further.”

Pictured top: Firefighters tackling the inferno at the Burn Bullock (Picture: Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage)


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