The criminals, who Ashby believes were determined to destroy his business, made a fire
and threw gas canisters onto the flames.
The landlord, who owns the pub, is now offering a £1,000 reward for the capture and
successful conviction of those responsible.
THE FIRE STARTED
AT THE MALT SHOVEL
"This was not the work of kids. I am convinced it was
the work of people jealous at the success of the business.
"It has caused £25,000 worth of damage but it could
have been even worse. A friend of mine went out to the toilets, came back and said he
could smell burning. I went out, saw a red glow and immediately evacuated the pub.
"Whoever was responsible had even built a fire of
combustible materials and then placed the gas canisters on top. The marquee and the toilet
block were destroyed.
"It was an extremely dangerous thing to do. When I
went out to investigate I heard the gas go up and it was very fortunate that no-one was
hurt or even worse."
But now the Ashbys are fighting back and the venue, which
has still been able to host duos and single artists since the fire, has won support from
"This has really inspired the Blitz Spirit and
everyone has rallied round. We will bounce back. We will, with planning permission,
rebuild the marquee in fireproof material and there will be a state-of-the-art closed
circuit television system with 31-day constant recording.
"This has knocked us back but we are determined to
recover from it and I just hope these people are caught."