July 26, 2010
STRUTH - Best Pub in The Street
IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says there's a street in Scotland far north that's just 2.06m long (6ft 9ins) and has just one address on it – a bistro in the local pub.
Ebenezer Place at Wick in Caithness County, was created in 1883 when Alexander Sinclair built a hotel at the corner of Union and River Streets. As the local council required him to identify his hotel on all faces, Mr Sinclair had "Mackays Hotel" painted on its Union and River Street sides, but "Ebenezer Place" at the top of the short and blunt end where the other two sides met.
But as that "corner" did not have a door in it, Mr Sinclair had to install one – and as soon as he did so, the Council then recognised the "corner end" of the hotel as an official address because it gave access to Mackays Hotel, and thus Ebenezer Place – all 2.06m of it – was declared an official street and an official mail delivery address.
Today Mackays Hotel still occupies the corner, with the one and only address on Ebenezer Place the No 1 Bistro within the hotel.
And interestingly, as well as laying claim to being the world's shortest street, Ebenezer Place has another interesting bit of history to it: Robert Louis Stevenson spent some of his childhood in Wick while his father built a breakwater in the local bay.
Stevenson Jnr later made reference to Ebenezer Place at "the five hand way" (Union Street, River Street, Bridge Street, Station Road and The Cliff that all joined at Ebenezer Place) in his novel Treasure Island.