Keep proper journalism alive. It's time to Back the Cable
The Bristol Cable

Too hot to handle? Help us investigate fire at ‘The Office’ in Speedwell

“It seems the bigger and more dangerous the fire, the less scrutiny it receives.” We’re calling on readers to share information to help crack the case of the Strachan and Henshaw fire.


“It seems the bigger and more dangerous the fire, the less scrutiny it receives.” We’re calling on readers to share information to help crack the case of the Strachan and Henshaw fire.

Since the Strachan and Henshaw building in Speedwell went up in flames on May 3, rumours have festered over what triggered the fire, and if it was deliberate.

40-odd business tenants have been left in limbo since that fateful evening, with the Dubai-registered landlord staying unhelpfully quiet.

From the outset, the fire at the building – famed for its swingers club and bikers – was treated as potential arson. Police say the investigation is ongoing, but proof of criminal negligence or arson hasn’t emerged.

“It seems the bigger and more dangerous the fire, the less scrutiny it receives,”

Now the investigation itself is being scrutinised by tenants. Namely, why it took police a full two months before taking statements from people who were in the building, known locally as The Office, when the fire started. Meanwhile, a forensic investigation of the property was ruled out because of structural safety concerns and asbestos contamination, and the site returned to the landlord.

“It seems the bigger and more dangerous the fire, the less scrutiny it receives,” one tenant told the Cable.

The Fortune Executive Tower in Dubai, the registered address of Douglas Homes Housing Incorporated. (Credit: Propsearch LLC)

The building was owned by rogue landlord Alan Dykes, until he sold the freehold for a generous £1 to Douglas Homes Housing Incorporated in 2018. The sale raised eyebrows, not least because the company is registered to Dubai.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said the landlord, Douglas Homes Housing Incorporated, must foot the bill for the clear up. But identifying the legal owner behind the company has proven tricky thanks to the secretive UAE jurisdiction which grants no public access to company data.

So, who owns the Dubai company? Speaking on the condition of anonymity, police, council staff and tenants point to Wayne Braund – Dykes’ long term business partner and construction entrepreneur. However, on paper Braund is simply the majority shareholder of the building management company acting on behalf of the landlord, Braund Lettings Ltd.

Braund ran a string of companies until he was disqualified as a director in 2018. Breaching a disqualification order, by directing a British or overseas company operating in the UK, is a criminal offence, punishable by up to two years imprisonment. And so it was that Braund stepped down, and associates of his became directors, as did his son, who coincidentally was appointed director of similarly named Douglas Homes (Bristol) Ltd on the day of the fire.

Inside the Strachan and Henshaw building after the fire

Government agency the Health and Safety Executive say they will be monitoring the complex clear-up of the site. They are no strangers to Alan Dykes and Wayne Braund. Dykes has been a thorn in the side of the HSE for years and was jailed for eight months in 2015 for shocking health and safety offences at the Speedwell building.

As for the displaced tenants, Braund is nowhere to be seen. And Dykes is keen to distance himself from this latest saga, telling the Cable: “I don’t own it, it’s gone, and that’s the end of the story.

“I’m hearing all sorts of rumours to do with that site. The thing is if I say nothing, that’s the best way innit… [Strachan and Henshaw] is too political.”

To be continued…
Wayne Braund did not respond, and Alan Dykes refused to respond to the Cable’s requests for comment.


Help us investigate this story. Have you got information?
We treat all tip-offs confidentially.
Contact Cable journalist Alon: / 07533718547


Join 2,500 Cable members redefining local media

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

Join now

What makes us different?


Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

Inclusive or exclusive: can community-led housing schemes provide for people most in need?

In recent years Bristol has seen the development of several new community-led housing schemes, which are often driven by small resident groups – but also aim to house people in need of a social home. How is the model working out – and with funds shrinking, does it have a future?

Bristol rogue landlord rented out room despite banning order, tenants say

Naomi Knapp was prohibited from renting out her properties to new tenants in 2022, but the Cable has uncovered evidence to suggest she brought in new tenants anyway.

‘I can do action’: cafe owner who organised tower block evacuation response aiming to be councillor

When she heard Barton House was being evacuated in November, Cafe Conscious owner Deniece Dixon got to work helping families who had become homeless. Two months on, she explains why she’s set her sights on City Hall

Exclusive: Banned rogue landlord under council investigation for listing properties on Airbnb

Holiday lettings firm removes listings after Cable investigation uncovers evidence showing Naomi Knapp's homes have been available to let on its website, via a third party.

Bristol raises £10k for Barton House residents in 48hrs

A Cable crowdfund to support the residents of Barton House is 1,200% funded - and counting.

Analysis: The national high-rise saga behind Barton House’s emergency evacuation

Housing journalist Peter Apps, who has written for years about Grenfell, explains how even the sudden collapse of a similar high rise block in London 50 years failed to spark enough action to make other towers safe.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning