The Shepherd's Hut
Henry Jackson, our museum founder, clearly remembered collecting the Shepherd's Hut from its previous home in Basingstoke, where it had been in use as a garden shed. Henry said:
"My wife, Madge, and I went to see how we were going to move it, we found both front wheels were seized solid. We made our next trip with a lorry jack, blocks and crowbars. We had to jack up the front and unbolt the iron stub axles, these we loaded on our trailer. At this time we owned a Land Rover.
"We brought the wheels home. I then dug a hole and positioned the wheel and stub axle over it. I started a fire which heated the cast iron wheel, which expanded, allowing me to drive out the stub axles. After cleaning, greasing and fitting the wheels, we returned to Basingstoke to refit the wheels and axles to the hut."
Now with functioning wheels, the hut was loaded onto a low-loader and, after a very fraught Sunday journey (only barely managing to ascend the hill past Green Lane cemetery in Farnham, where George Sturt is buried), brought back to the Museum, towed behind the Land Rover. It now lives with us, no longer as a garden shed, but as a fully-fledged Shepherds Hut.
Although it may seem very spartan, the hut was a welcome refuge for the shepherd who, whilst tending his sheep, needed to be close to them. especially during the lambing season when he would house orphaned or injured lambs safely in it whilst living in it himself. He used it for several months at a time after it had been towed miles to the Downs (or wherever his sheep were pastured). Although we might not choose it as a home for ourselves (some people use them, and they are still being made, but are far from spartan!), it was a welcome refuge for the shepherd, especially during the long, cold Spring nights.
You will notice the items that the shepherd kept to hand inside his hut - many were for dealing with his sheep, but he also needed to be prepared to defend them from predators!
Shepherds were highly valued for their skills at tending sheep. In 1870 they received 35/= a week, a rent-free cottage and many other benefits. In addition they were paid sixpence for every lamb reared, and £1 a year for the keep of a dog. In 1870 the average wages for a man was 48d/day; 28/= a week, so our shepherd was certainly well paid! In Agriculture, the pay was half the average.
Our Hut was built at Tasker's Waterloo Foundry in Andover between 1910 and 1920. You can see the maker's plaque above and to the left of the doorway.