Landlord vows to reopen burnt out George and Dragon pub in Church Road, Bristol
THE landlord of a Redfield pub which was all but destroyed in an arson attack has vowed to reopen the historic local.
Andrew Ford, 46, watched helplessly as fire tore through the 260-year-old George and Dragon pub he had owned and run for the last 20 years.
The blaze, believed to have been started deliberately following a burglary in the early hours of Monday January 14, was tackled by seven Bristol fire crews.
But despite the best efforts of 40 firefighters, the pub's roof collapsed, leading to Church Road being closed during rush hour.
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"It was just pandemonium when I arrived back from walking my dog," said Mr Ford, who lived above the pub.
"There were about ten fire engines, police cars, the road was cordoned off and there were ambulances too."
Fire investigators were quick to issue a statement saying the fire had been started deliberately and the police followed with an appeal for witnesses.
Mr Ford said: "The moment I found out it was done deliberately I was determined to reopen.
"After 20 years of being here and 20 years of hard work I can't drop it all now, despite what's happened.
"Obviously it's devastating and you can't find rhyme or reason as to why someone would do something like this to you.
"But it's been a couple of weeks now since the initial shock and we can start to pick up the pieces now."
He added that the area can be rough at times but the latest event had rocked the community.
"I've been robbed before and over the years I have seen a lot in this pub but nothing like this," he said.
"There's been some trouble recently but nothing which points the finger specifically, although I have some suspicions."
Mr Ford, who lived above the 18th- century former coach house with his fiance Louise Williams, 39, is now staying with family in Southmead while he works with insurance companies and loss adjusters to salvage the building.
He said the future of the building hung in the balance as he awaited advice over whether the structure was worth saving.
Surviving on savings, he said: "One thing I have learned in the last 20 years is save for a rainy day. And it has really rained."
He ruled out sale for more flats in the area, vowing to use the insurance money to reestablish as a local pub.
Police are continuing with their investigations and are urging anyone with any information to come forward and call Bristol CID on 101.