Coalport country house fire is 'suspicious'

Sweyney Cliff House, Coalport
Image caption Police say the origin of the fire is suspicious

A fire which has destroyed a historic country house at Coalport, near Telford, is being treated as suspicious.

The blaze at Sweyney Cliff House started just before midnight on Thursday.

At the height of the incident at the eight-bedroomed home, more than 20 firefighters were involved using pumping units and main jets.

Fire crews are still at the scene and Coalport Bridge is closed.

The house, which was on the market with agents Strutt and Parker for more than £650,000, had been empty for some months.

'Reported squatters'

Coalport Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Roger Hotchkiss said the house was one of the oldest in the village and was a beautiful Georgian mansion.

He said he believed the house had been empty for about six months.

"I've actually reported the property having squatters and visitors. They kicked the windows in and they were squatting in there... I reported it four times to the police and asked them to keep an eye on the property," he said.

Sweyney Cliff House, formerly known as Rock House, was built in 1805 by William Horton and stands in eight acres of grounds above the River Severn.

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