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Roof collapse First and Last pub at East Cliff, Dover, closed by fire service despite repairs

A pub that only reopened in July after its roof had collapsed was closed again a month later by the fire brigade.

Its owner Paul McMullan said it’s been one thing after another.

Now Mr McMullan, a former phone hacking row journalist, has applied to have the fire prohibition order lifted so trade can again begin.

Paul McMullan on the roof of his damaged new pub
Paul McMullan on the roof of his damaged new pub

Mr McMullan believes the necessary repairs after the roof collapsed have been done for the First and Last at East Cliff, Dover.

But Kent Fire and Rescue Service said that more work was needed and closed the pub down just a month after it had first reopened. Mr McMullan now says: “It has been one thing after another.”

The roof and some internal ceilings collapsed in February, shortly after Mr McMullan bought the pub, filling the building with plumes of 100-year-old attic dust.

New bunk beds at the boozer – which nestles at the foot of the White Cliffs of Dover – were also covered in a mix of chalk and dust.

Mr McMullan said: “The main wall in the attic holding up the roof, incredible as it seems, is just made of chalk and it had crumbled away.

First and Last pub East Cliff, Dover. Picture: Gary Browne
First and Last pub East Cliff, Dover. Picture: Gary Browne

“Every slate along the ridge cracked in two and the rain was just pouring in. Two internal ceilings collapsed and we had to act fast or we risked the whole lot coming down. I stood in the main bar and could see rain water running down the walls and ending up in pools on the floor.”

The pub, which was once called The Albion, had been closed for two years. Mr McMullan believes minor cracks in a few slates had been left unnoticed until reaching the point of collapse.

“I picked up quite a few pebble-sized lumps of chalk off the kitchen roof extension which is right underneath Admiralty Lookout above us.

"If you stay quiet at night you can hear stuff falling on the roof, most of it is just little bits of chalk and debris disturbed by nesting seagulls.

The hole in the ceiling
The hole in the ceiling

“Over the years this has to have resulted in a few cracked tiles, I can think of no other explanation. The whole kitchen was destroyed by a major cliff collapse in the Seventies, so I guess it could have been worse.”

Mr McMullan and a team of roofers worked into the night to secure the structure but once finished the fire brigade called in to view the work and demanded six new fire doors and fire resistant safety glass be installed.

The pub had first reopened in July after the work that Mr McMullan ordered had been completed but KFRS imposed the closing order on August 24 and it remains in force.

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