In a Nutshell, size does matter

FOR years, the Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds has held the crown of the smallest pub in Britain.Measuring just over 110 square feet, the tiny watering hole barely has room for customers, let alone bar stools.

FOR years, the Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds has held the crown of the smallest pub in Britain.

Measuring just over 110 square feet, the tiny watering hole barely has room for customers, let alone bar stools.

But now, the pub's historic title looks set to be snatched away by a former railway signal box, which has been transformed into a mini-drinking den to rival all others.

Jack Burton, who took over as manager of the Nutshell three months ago, wished his competition well, but said he was confident his pub would always be number one in the eyes of his customers.

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And he questioned whether his new challenger, which only has room for a counter and four bar stools, should in fact be classed as a pub at all.

“It's a pity we have lost the title as the smallest pub in Britain, but there is so much history behind the Nutshell, and nothing can ever take that away from us,” he said.

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“It is hard to make a profit on a pub this small, so a lot of people might try to open somewhere like this but will not necessarily be successful. Luckily though, the Nutshell is still a big tourist attraction in the town which helps keep us going.”

Up until now, the only other contender in the bid for Britain's smallest pub has been the Smith's Arms, in Dorset, which measures 20ft by 10ft.

In the early 1980s, the then landlord of the Nutshell challenged the Smith's Arms to a game of football in order to settle the dispute once and for all - and the Suffolk team won.

“It depends on how you measure it,” said Mr Burton, who has worked as a barman at the pub for the past two years.

“We have got a smaller bar than the Smith's Arms, but they have got a smaller building.”

Andrew McCall, licensee of the Signal Box Inn, in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, has now submitted an application to enter his pub in the Guinness Book of Records to become the World's Smallest Pub - a title that currently belongs to a bar in Colorado Springs, in America, which measures 109 square feet.

And with the pub measuring a teeny 64 square feet, Mr McCall is in with a good chance of winning his claim as the smallest pub on the planet.

“Pubs are technically places made up of a tavern, a bar, and public rooms, so in theory the Signal Box Inn would in fact be classified as a bar, which are places that just serve alcohol over a counter,” said Mr Burton.

“But the floorspace is definitely smaller than the Nutshell, and it will be nice to have the world record back in Britain so I wish the landlord well.”

In 2004, the EADT launched a campaign to save the Nutshell from closing after the former landlord was refused planning permission for outdoor seating.

Chris Curtis, regional spokesman for Camra (the Campaign for Real Ale), said anyone could apply for a licence to run a pub.

“They will be assessed for suitability for trade, there are health and safety aspects, and there will be an opportunity for public objections to be submitted, but, in theory, anywhere, no matter how small, is eligible to become a pub,” he said.

“The Nutshell is too small to have an impact on the beer trade, but it is a real attraction to Bury and a lot of people who come to the town make a point of visiting the building, because it is certainly very curious.”

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