AN EMPTY pub described as being 'popular and wonderful' in the past has been badly damaged in a fire.

Fire crews are investigating the cause of a blaze that broke out at The Old Railway Hotel, a Grade II listed building in Station Road, at 2.20am on Monday morning.

Half of the ground floor and the second floor were damaged by the flames.

Fire crews from Stanmore, Mill Hill and Hendon fire stations attended and the fire was under control by 3am.

John O’Connell has owned Edgware Music for over 30 years, and his shop is opposite the building.

Mr O’Connell said: “People living in Edgware have been waiting for this to happen, it is a shame. There is a beautiful painting of the old railway station inside, it was about 15 feet long above the fireplace but it’s probably destroyed now.

“The pub closed because it didn’t meet health and safety standards, or something like that. It has become empty like the rest of Edgware. There’s been rumours it will be developed, but I think it will be flats.

“That pub was so popular, it was beautiful inside. It was a pub upstairs, and a hotel, and people used to live there, I’m sure. A wonderful place.”

A man driving along Station Road on his way to work this morning, saw two fire engines and called the scene “a real mess”.

The pub was named after Edgware’s old railway station, which was less than a minute’s walk away.

It closed in 1960s and has been replaced with a row of shops.