FIREFIGHTERS battled a blaze in a well-known North-East pub for four hours last night.

The Black Bull pub in Yarm, Teesside, known to date back at least 300 years, was evacuated at about 6pm last night (MONDAY FEB 4) after fire broke out in its 16-ft chimney breast.

Three fire appliances and crews from Thornaby battled the blaze which had begun with a fault in an extractor fan and spread to soot and debris in the chimney stack.

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Because of the nature of the fire parts of the chimney stack had to be dismantled to deal with the incident.

Andy Breeze, watch manager at Thornaby Fire Station, said: “Access was difficult and with it being an old building it was difficult getting on to the roof.”

Staff at the Bull said it was open as normal this morning and there was no damage to the bar area.

Fire crews said there was minimal water damage in the bar area and minor smoke damage in the first floor area.

A brass plate in the bar commemorates one colourful customer who once climbed down the 16-ft chimney to surprise drinkers below.

The Black Bull is one of Yarm’s favourite hostelries and first appeared in the trade directories of the town in 1834 when it was a coaching inn – but parts of the building, including the ceiling and wall timbers, are over 300 years old.