The UK’s most prolific hut survivor built to last and a product of an industrious family from Wiltshire
Farris was possibly the U.K’s most prolific Shepherd huts builders, with many well preserved examples bearing testament to the quality of build and sturdiness of these endearing old ladies. The study wooden chassis, large wheels and corrugated iron skin proved a perfect match to match the riggers of the Wiltshire and Dorset downs and were equally at home on the open meadows of East Anglia, courtesy of a Victorian rail network which conveyed freight to every rail head and market town on its vast network.
Originating in the historic village of Tollard Royal in Wiltshire sitting close to the Dorset border and dissected by the former Shaftesbury to Sixpenny Handley turnpike road, the business started with Francis Faris who was registered as a Blacksmith in the village in the 1842 census. A foundry was established in the village of which the remains can still be seen today.
The family became steam plough contractors and also took on the running of the King John Public house in the village, now the King John Inn. At some point son John moved to nearby Shaftesbury and according to the local 1895 Kelly’s directory had set up business at the Belle Vue Iron works making Agricultural implements. The establishment was still trading in 1935 at the same address when the company had become J Farris & Sons.
Two further Farris brothers went to serve in the Army in South Africa and remained overseas. Two more moved to Homington near Coombe Bissett to start a foundry business there. The business then moved to a second site at Coombe Hill. The site was run by Charles Farris and his son Hedley who joined his father aged 14. The business was both a Blacksmith’s, Agricultural engineers and sold Allis Chalmers and Massey Harris Combines.
Shepherd huts were made for the company by the late John Judd who was head carpenter for the Farris family. Mr Judd was born in Coombe Bissett, and lived there for 96 years. Making agricultural implements was a reserved occupation in the war, and Mr Judd served in the Home Guard. John celebrated his 100th birthday in 2008. The last hut from this prolific high quality builder was believed to have been assembled in the early to mid 1950’s.
The photo above shows the H&C Farris stand at Coombe Bissett village show and is reproduced by kind permission of the Coombe Bissett village archive project http://www.coombebissett.com