ARSONISTS are believed to have started a fire that destroyed a listed pub.
The Newlands Inn in Riddings was gutted in the blaze, which police think may have been started deliberately.
More than 20 firefighters fought the blaze, which saw 15ft high flames leaping from the Grade II listed building. Thick black smoke from the blaze could be seen up to three miles away.
Newlands Road where the pub is situated, was shut for nearly two hours while fire crews used six engines and a high rise platform to bring the blaze under control on Friday evening.
A police spokesperson said it was still not clear how the fire started this week as fire investigators probed the charred debris of the pub, which closed five years ago. No-one was injured in the blaze.
Social care worker Tom Bower, 19, from nearby Golden Valley raised the alarm after seeing flames coming from the former lounge area of the pub just before 8pm.
He said: “It was so bizarre, I was just doing some weights in my garage with a friend and I saw the pub on fire. I was shocked – it’s such a shame because I feel like I grew up there, it was like part of my childhood upbringing.”
The once picturesque pub at one time had an open fire, a pool table and was the regular meeting place for local neighbourhood watch group.
But it closed in 2006 due to poor trading.
On July 20 this year, a planning application was submitted to Amber Valley Borough Council for listed building consent to convert the 19th century building into a 30-bed hotel.
A decision was expected by the borough council planning board on September 15.
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The applicant Jay Cing, of London and Worldwide Property Limited, was not available for comment this week.
Tim Dorr, A former tenant of the pub, who ran the premises for two and a half years with his girlfriend, spoke of his sadness at the once bustling pub going up in flames.
He said: “I’m gutted, really it’s awful. I got several text messages from old regulars saying that it was burning down, apparently there was a lot of people down there watching.
“It’s such a shame it was a really good pub and we enjoyed our time there a lot.”
If you have any information contact Derbyshire Police on 0345 123 33 33.