Humpty the Hut - Hut Date: April 2010

Last autumn (2009) I had an email from  very nice lady near Biggleswade who had been pointed in my direction by fellow Huttist, Ian McDonald.  After perusing the pictures she had sent I realised that Humpty was something a bit special (not withstanding the casual stance and rakish angles) ...

It appeared that he had a panelled door, a fancy frieze under an arched roof ...very unusual and I was intrigued!

So off we went last August to take a closer look.  Poor old Humpty - he was in a bad way but to my mind certainly not beyond salvation ...

The obligatory wheel that would need digging out ....seems mandatory with all old Huts ...

We think he could be an early caravan of some kind.  He was probably on wooden wheels originally and I would imagine he ended up in a farm yard when the wheels fell off and was then converted into an iron-wheeled Shepherds Hut. 

In retirement he was used as a Wood Store and them moved to these farm allotments in the village during the 1970's where he has been utilised as a garden shed.  He housed an incredible amount of stuff and when this was removed it would have been impossible to put it back in ....a Tardis effect in reverse!

There is a place for a stove with two exits behind the door to the right which indicates that he has had more than one stove sighting.  The base is 6ft x 9ft, and slightly larger sideways by quite a few inches once the sides reach the roof arches.  The ends are upright ...or should be!

He also has a small pair of matching "dummy" windows in the rear inside the panelling.  What were they for?  There is also a cupboard hole about a foot square between the inner and outer cladding which is lined in sacking and covered in a sliding door.  Plus there is also an indication of a cupboard-like structure under one window with the outline of a frame "routed" into the inner cladding so that it was keyed into the lining panels.

Both sides have small iron brackets outside under the roof edge, which I would imagine held the bearing pins of a roller which could unfurl sheets each side for extra shelter.

He has arched windows on both sides with opening casements.  There are also the remains of a channel both over and under the windows outside which seem to have been for sliding shutters.

He is panelled vertically inside as the outer in beaded tongue and groove.  The floor is the same except the beading is under the floor.

A "new" access door had been cut in the wrong end at some point as the "proper" door had long stopped working as Humpty drifted towards the allotment fence!  He also has the remains of dark blue paint outside and grey inside.

He has been named "Humpty" as the wheels he has fitted now were made by "E. Humphries of Pershore".  I suspect they were originally from a straw elevator machine which were manufactured by them.  I believe they were taken over in 1904.

 

So, after a winter of sleepless nights wondering how on earth to move a Hut which might collapse with one false move, we headed back to Humpty's allotment in April with a cunning plan!

Digger also had sleepless nights and here he ponders the logistics of moving a fragile Humpty to Thurgarton for his sympathetic restoration ...

After much head scratching we decided that what was needed was a steel box section to slide under Humpty and take the "get me home wheels" and to also support the shuttering plywood, which would encase and support Humpty as he was almost too weak to stand up.  In all honesty, I think that if it hadn't been for the allotment fence he was leaning against he would have collapsed a long while ago!

So the Humpty move commenced and my son Henry embarked on his first Hut Rescue!  We had to get all Humpty's old wheels off so he was nice and flat to sit on the lorry.

The two main lower frame side rails had completely rotted away over the rear axle and most of a second fix hardwood elm floor had given up.  Some of the original tongue and groove under the elm floor has survived at the far end away from the door.

Henry's favourite job of the whole Humpty event...  digging a big hole so we could slide on the first "get me home" wheel, seen here in the foreground ...

Click here to read the next chapter of Humpty, his plywood support pants and the moving day!