The West country manufacturer whose huts have stood the test of time in greater numbers than any other builder
When most people think of a Shepherds hut, the Farris hut is probably that quintessential image that comes to mind.
Not only are they a well built product capable of providing shelter in the open field, large cast iron wheels help passage through the roughest and most stone strewn track, a sturdy chassis with up to four parallel longitudinal bearers ensure strength, strong multiple joints onto the chassis for the fixed axle and a sturdy well designed turntable to stop the front and rear axles wringing on their mounts. On top of that, they required minimal (if any) maintenance. These are the simple yet all important qualities that ensured a succession of owners have valued their Farris hut long after the last flock left the Down or Meadow.
Farris, unlike other less durable brethren rarely became lost through decay and neglect once they finished their primary role supporting the Shepherd. Farris huts were protected by a corrugated iron skin and built to withstand the rigors of the elements. To be 'handy and useful' meant intrinsic value to their owner, we are not talking the economic value that a good Farris commands today as a garden accessory, but the hard nosed 'earn your keep or out' value so essential in keeping a farm in business, whether storing grain or animal feed, a bolt hole for the home guard or even somewhere for the farmhands to store tools. Thankfully John Judd and other craftsman at the Farris works understood their customers well and we are fortunate to have so many splendid Farris huts with us today, not just in the West country either; thanks to the railway network which enabled a wider distribution to meet the thirst for such a good product.
A selection of Farris name plates
Farris huts turn up everywhere including in the middle of housing estates!
Possibly the best preserved hut we have ever found, the first call about this one came from a member of the public who had read an article published in the regional newspaper. The caller left a message on the answer phone " Its just down the road from the supermarket in Fakenham", a few months passed, and then a second call came from the owner who had inherited the property from a recently departed relative. "The property is going up for sale and the ground for building" warranted a rapid response this time.
A visit to the site with fellow hut hunter, Richard King from Thurgarton Iron Works revealed this stunning example of Farris handiwork quietly biding its time adjacent to the long lost pastures where its flocks once roamed. Indeed many a hut has come to light after stubbornly clinging to the last parcel of land after meadows have been consumed by concrete and brick.
Needless to say she was re-homed to a caring owner in North Norfolk within a few weeks of being discovered. Sheltered by an adjoining Victorian Villa wall and a high gate and fence shielding her presence from less sympathetic eyes, a stiff broom to clear the dust was all that was needed to waken her from her 60 year slumber!