The pub with the name that came back to haunt it

When you name a pub after a pioneering steam locomotive that obtained its nickname due to the copious amounts of smoke it used to spew from its 19th century funnel, you could be forgiven for drawing the slightest of ironies that it should end its days 49 years later in a puff of its own smoke. Thankfully no one was hurt in this unfortunate arson attack.

Puffing Billy is the world’s oldest surviving steam locomotive, constructed in 1813–1814 by colliery viewer William Hedley. It was employed to haul coal chaldron wagons from the mine at Wylam to the docks at Lemington in Northumberland; and in 1971 it gave its name to this unassuming public house in the West Midlands.

EK RCAs were brought in after the event to ascertain whether the insured’s declared value was adequate for the reinstatement. Naturally, we cannot divulge what we uncovered; but suffice it to say the present case only highlights the importance of keeping your insurance declared values up to date and backed up by a reinstatement cost assessment from a recognised professional every 3 years, so that you can be sure that should the worst happen, you will not be on the hook for an insufficient declared value.

As regular readers will know, insurance underwriters will invariably apply will exercise the ‘average clause’ in the policy wording. For instance, a building insured for £1 million that should be insured for £1.5 million is therefore 50% under-insured. In this scenario, an insurance claim for say £14,000 would only yield a pay out from the insurer of about £9,333, leaving the policyholder (e.g. landlord/freeholder/RMC) to pay the difference. Just imagine the carnage if the situation was a total loss!

EK RCAs explored the burned out wreck and put together an assumed fit-out specification from old photos and anecdotal stories from various stakeholders which informed their build rates, and from the visible footprint and outline of the remaining building calculated a retrospective declared value to defend the their client’s position against a sceptical insurer.

The reinstatement involved considering lots of interesting one-off features including four cast iron locomotive wheels (not from the real Puffing Billy we hasten to add!). If anyone with a salvage yard background can contribute to let us know how regularly items such as these come up for auction in the private market EK RCAs would be most interested to know. In the end, we priced for a reproduction casting from a foundry.

It’s the little details which make all the difference!

Rumour has it that the site will now be developed into affordable living flats targeted towards key workers at a nearby hospital. We wish the developers every success with their endeavour.


West Midlands

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Speak to the EK RCA team today for expert advice