UK's 'smallest ice cream shop' opens in Tynemouth telephone box


The UK's "smallest ice cream shop" has thrown open its door in Tynemouth this week.

Tynemouth Telephone Box is a repurposed red phone box on Front Street serving soft ice cream and iced coffees, and opened for the first time on Saturday, May 25. Owner Jonathan Parsons, 39, has lived in Tynemouth for four years and walked past it every day with his dog Murphy.

He says he wanted to take on a "challenge" alongside running his Lancashire-based property renovation business. Jonathan had seen similar telephone box renovations in London but says that he wanted to "do something different" in the North East.

He has already written to the Guinness Book of Records in an aim to be recognised officially as the country's smallest ice cream shop - which doesn't even cover one square metre. Jonathan told ChronicleLive: "When I do something, I like to go above and beyond and do it to the max.

"Coffee is great, but there's already really good coffee in Tynemouth, so I wanted to do something different and for it to have that USP as the UK's smallest ice cream shop. How are you physically going to get a shop that's smaller?!"

Tynemouth Telephone Box
Tynemouth Telephone Box -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

However, such a tiny space comes with its challenges. Originally, Jonathan had been worried that he wouldn't get planning permission to convert the telephone box, as it is regarded as a piece of street furniture and is not on the land registry.

Purchased by "Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool" group," for £1 over a decade ago, it had become a "financial liability" for the charity, which Jonathan is a member of. He had to undertake a 42-page heritage study, and convince North Tyneside Council and the local community that any work would not destroy the heritage of the area.

The Telephone Box is on the pavement on Front Street
The Telephone Box is on the pavement on Front Street -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

He continued: "It was really run down and in a sorry state of repair. Making it more commercial means it can pay for the upkeep and remain beautiful for decades to come."

To achieve that, Jonathan has installed the smallest commercial soft-serve ice cream machine possible to run alongside a Grind pod coffee machine, a fridge and a small hand-washing sink. As well as iced coffees, he and employee Samantha Di Caprio are serving up sundaes and Italian affogatos - and weekend specials are planned.

The Biscoff Caramel Ice Cream Sundae, this weekend's special at Tynemouth Telephone Box
The Biscoff Caramel Ice Cream Sundae, this weekend's special at Tynemouth Telephone Box -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

When ChronicleLive visited on Friday afternoon, several people stopped by - some to get an ice cream or a coffee, others because they were simply curious. The telephone box has also caused a stir on both Instagram and TikTok.

However, while the reaction has been largely positive there is one thing far out of Jonathan's control - the Great British weather. He added: "It's more weather dependent than I thought.

"There's a problem getting rained upon and rained out. Also, when it's raining no-one wants to buy an ice cream, but when the sun comes out people are queuing down the street!"

Jonathan plans to open Tynemouth Telephone Box on weekends throughout the summer and during the school holidays. However, as the business is extremely weather dependent, he encouraged people to check out the Tynemouth Telephone Box Instagram account if they were planning to visit especially.