CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Made in Devon: Compact rural dwellings on wheels

PUBLISHED: 15:27 25 September 2015 | UPDATED: 15:27 25 September 2015

Although still a young company, Exmoor Huts has got off to a flying start

Although still a young company, Exmoor Huts has got off to a flying start

Archant

Debbie Manners discovers a North Devon business which has gone back in time to reproduce Exmoor shepherd huts

Nostalgia is making a comeback. You must have noticed. Not least in the current fascination with all things vintage and retro. There is, it seems, a distinct appeal in products that hark back to a time when life was simpler.

So it is no big surprise that the traditional shepherd hut is enjoying new popularity as a delightful, personalised space where we can momentarily step off the treadmill of modern life. Plenty of celebrities have succumbed to the charms of this time-honoured mobile home, with devotees including Elizabeth Hurley, Kate Humble and the late Terry Pratchett.

These compact rural dwellings on wheels, dating back to Victorian times, were once the temporary hillside homes of farmers during lambing time. As recently as the 1960s they were still in use in rural areas. Currently enjoying a new lease of life, the 21st century shepherd hut combines a traditional style exterior with a luxurious interior fitted with all the comforts you could wish for.

A new North Devon company, Exmoor Huts, is now offering these charismatic little huts for sale, hand-built to their customers’ specifications. Based at Filleigh, near Barnstaple, the business was set up earlier this year by local builder and former soldier Paul Hackman who admits that he had become “somewhat obsessed” with shepherd huts.

Busy at work on another production at Exmoor HutsBusy at work on another production at Exmoor Huts

“It all started when I was researching designs for a hut to build in the garden for my family,” explains Paul. “I came across a picture of a shepherd hut and loved it. The more I found out about these huts, the more interested I became. I love the fact that each one can be personalised, and that they can be used for so many different things.”

Certainly, the shepherd hut does seem to be endlessly versatile. It can sit in a secluded spot in the garden providing an extra bedroom or outdoor room (cosy all year round thanks to the wood-burning stove). Alternatively, the hut can be used as a painter’s or artist’s studio, or it can take on a business role as an office or fishing or shooting lodge. Shepherd huts are also becoming increasingly popular as holiday lets, helped by the fact that, in most cases, planning permission is not needed.

When Paul decided to set up Exmoor Huts, he had been looking for a change of direction. After working in general building for ten years, and serving on operations with the Army Reserve, he wanted a job with new challenges that also offered him a chance to be creative. “I enjoy making things that are beautiful, and that last. I also like the satisfaction of making something by hand, using traditional craftsmanship. Building shepherd huts seemed to tick these boxes,” he explains.

Working with his close friend and skilled builder Alex Ingleton, and history enthusiast Joey Kennedy-Brown, (who joined on work experience and never left), Paul ensures all

Exmoor Huts are popular with young and old alikeExmoor Huts are popular with young and old alike

the huts built by Exmoor Huts reach the same high standard. All the ironwork, including the wheels, is hand-forged, and wherever possible the materials are reclaimed. “The detail is important to us. For example we use original stained glass windows and genuine Bakelite switches. Our huts have a heritage feel that is in keeping with the spirit and romance of the original designs.”

People love the quirkiness of the huts, according to Paul. “Each hut is individual and each one has its own story. For example in one of our recent huts, the floorboards come from an old house overlooking Saunton Sands on the North Devon coast. When prospective buyers looked at this hut, they loved that detail.”

Although still a young company, Exmoor Huts has got off to a flying start. “We are getting enquiries from all over the country, including Scotland, Nottinghamshire and the Isle of Wight. I think the message is getting round that our huts are really authentic, and built by hand. We have met some really interesting people who share our love of shepherd huts and often have their own stories to tell. We have also been contacted by people who own original shepherd huts and want us to do restoration work on them.

“We feel that in our own way we are doing an important job. We live and work in a rural area, and we are honouring the role that the shepherd huts played in places such as this in the past. It is good to know that we are helping to give shepherd huts a future too.”

Although still a young company, Exmoor Huts has got off to a flying startAlthough still a young company, Exmoor Huts has got off to a flying start

exmoorhuts.co.uk

Huts can be used for:

- Office

- Garden room

-Spare bedroom

- Holiday let

- Fishing lodge

- Shooting lodge

- Crafting room

- Painting studio

- Children’s playroom

- Peaceful retreat

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wild camping can be one of the best ways to escape the crowds for a night or two and lose yourself in the landscape - SOPHIE PAVELLE chooses her five favourite places to ‘wild-life’ camp in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From sandy beaches and lighthouse-topped cliffs to views of the Jurassic Coast, the Devon coastline offers many perfect locations for a seaside walk. We pick 10 of the prettiest routes to take

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Take our quiz to find out how well you really know Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As the weather starts to warm up and the Devon countryside beckons, LIZZIE JANE of the National Trust in the South West offers plenty of walk ideas for you to try. Whether you want a relaxed Sunday stroll or a more strenuous hike, here are 10 walks across Devon (and beyond) to help you escape the crowds and head off the beaten track

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The South West Coast Path is celebrating 40 years by calling on people to help raise £40,000. To show their support, teams from Devon’s top tourist attractions are preparing to take to the trail. CHRISSY HARRIS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Away from the hustle of places like Woolacombe and Ilfracombe, North Devon is peppered with tiny coves, empty beaches and wooded walks leading to secluded bays that feel a million miles away from the tourist trail. BECKY DICKINSON reveals her pick of the best kept secrets on the North Devon coast

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

As part of her regular series where she visits Devon’s best places for 24 hours, Lydia Tewkesbury has this time been to Sidmouth

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ranging from rocky and windy walkways along the South West Coast Path to the sandy beaches on the picturesque coastline, the district of North Devon is one of the prettiest coastal areas in the South West of England. In no particular order, here are 10 of the prettiest villages in the district of North Devon

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Devon’s towns and cities there’s an awful lot you can do in just 24 hours. For her regular feature, Lydia Tewkesbury travels to see what you can do in a day in Kingsbridge

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Villages in Devon are some of the prettiest in the South West. From beautiful little hamlets on the outskirts of the moors to seaside communities, we pick 10 villages in Devon you need to visit

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dust off your walking shoes and head to South Devon – here are 6 reasons why the area is so good for a stroll writes Victoria Rogers

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

There is something quite life-enriching about being by the water and in Devon there are plenty of ways to enjoy it, writes Fran McElhone. Including surfing, wild swimming, water skiing and more, here are 10 great ways to enjoy Devon’s water

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Encompassing large swathes of Dartmoor and plenty of the county’s most distinctive sections of coastline, it’s no wonder that the South Hams district is home to some of Devon’s prettiest places. We pick out 10 of the best towns and villages the area has to offer

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Devon is as beautiful underwater as it is above. Chrissy Harris highlights the best places to discover our county’s hidden depths… Here are 6 great places for crabbing, rockpooling and diving

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search