THE FORMER owner of the world's smallest theatre has come come forward to say he took handmade artefacts reported stolen last week.

Councillors appealed for information over the whereabouts of handmade tiles, which were on display out side The Theatre of Small Convenience in Malvern.

But Dennis Neale, the founder of the now derelict building, has now explained he took the tiles for "safekeeping".

He said: "I thought it best to advise you of my involvement.

"Having seen that the trellis was knocked down some time ago, I saw the possibility of people's art-work being put in a skip or cleared away so I took it upon myself to retrieve the tiles, which I have in safekeeping."

Last week, councillors Beverley Nielsen, Cynthia Palmer and Peter Smith said they were all "greatly saddened" that someone would remove the tiles, which have brought together "the work and inspiration" of the community.

However, Mr Neale said he felt responsible for the art work and has since contacted the councillors to inform them of his involvement.

He said: "Being the initiator of the trellis project when I ran the theatre, I felt responsibility for the art works. I am so relieved they want to preserve the said art works, and of course the theatre itself and I await instruction on the tiles."

Mr Neale decided not to renew his lease in 2017 after 18 years due to health reasons.

Speaking to Worcester News at the time, Mr Neal left most of the theatre's fittings as a gesture of goodwill in the event that a new theatrical tenant is found for the building.

He had said: "But if there isn't, I hope the council will notify me so that I can remove the fittings; I don't want to see them end up in a skip."

The theatre, situated in a former Victorian gentleman's lavatory, opened in 1999, and a few years later it was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's smallest theatre.

In 2014, it was awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence after glowing accolades from users of the tourism website.