The results of the 13th annual Shed of the Year competition have been announced and no, the winner is not David Cameron's garden hut.
Move over, David Cameron. Britain’s best shed belongs not to the former Prime Minister, but to a man from Buxton, Chris Hield, whose eco-friendly hobbit hole, called Bux End, has just won the title of Shed of the Year 2019.
Mr Hield, who beat 3,000 competitors to gain the top accolade, may not have written his memoirs at his shed (a fact that some could view as a distinct plus) but he worked hard to create a living roof on his Tolkien-inspired refuge, which he built himself using reclaimed bricks and timber.
‘It had to fit in with the wildlife and nature that we have cultivated in the rest of our garden so the grass roof was a big feature,’ he explains. ‘Whenever we got any seeds for wild flowers we have just thrown them over the top of the shed and they have thrived.’
His approached worked almost too well: ‘We have seen so much wildlife since adding the shed — so much so it distracts me when I’m working in there! We have a blackbird nest in the eaves of the shed as well as robins who we have seen hatch from eggs to baby birds and there are the butterflies and bees that swarm the flowers.
‘It really is a haven for nature so I am over the moon that I’ve won such a great competition.’
His rewards include £1,000, a wooden plaque and a giant crown for the shed.
Now at its 13th edition, the competition, which is sponsored by woodcare brand Cuprinol, also recognised winners in individual categories. Tom Duckworth’s The Lorry Life topped the Unexpected category and with good reason—it’s a converted army lorry, which Mr Duckworth bought on eBay in 2016 and turned into his home. He made everything, from roof and kitchen to green features such as a solar power system so he can live entirely off grid.
Tom, said the judges ‘was a worthy winner, proving just how versatile a shed can be after he put his on wheels and made it a home. The shed even has its own water system with a purpose-built water tank fitted under a reclaimed red chesterfield sofa, a kitchen— and tiled shower area.’
Tom Prior beat stiff competition to win the Summerhouse category with its triangular Woody Willow, a playhouse he built for his two children. He had to overcome a construction snag — the playhouse was so big that it required planning consent — but it was well worth the effort, with Mr Prior calling the shed his ‘greatest creation yet’.
Artist Mary Price prevailed in the workshop and studio category with her beautifully painted studio featuring colourful flowers and seed heads against a blue background.
‘To begin with the shed was painted in a safe, boring garden shades white which looked tasteful and blended in with the plants,’ Ms Price explains. ‘But I didn’t want safe and boring — I wanted flamboyant, colourful, decorative and for the shed to emulate the vibrancy of summer meadows and to reflect the way I paint.
‘Many of my paintings are inspired by natural forms and last summer was so sunny and warm it meant that one day when I ran out of canvas I simply moved on to the shed. It was started on an impulse and has now become my biggest painting to date.’
The winner of the pub and entertainment category shows how life’s little hiccups can turn into unexpected boons. Chris Smith and his wife were too busy to go on holiday for six years so they put what little time they had into creating the beach bar of a lifetime — in their own back garden. Palm leaves and a bead curtain lead into their ‘tropical tiki hut’ —aptly named Reef Cavern — revealing a Hawaiian-style cocktail bar complete with wooden pineapples.
If Hawai’i fired Mr Smith’s imagination, Jon Spooner’s Space Shed, the winner of the Unique category, is a tribute to British astronaut Tim Peake. A written and theatre maker, Mr Spooner began telling stories about space to children from his garden shed, which he called the Unlimited Space Agency.
Tim Peake then brought a 3D -printed Mini Jon with him in space — so it seems only fitting that Mr Spooner would go on to build fully mobile replica of his original shed, complete with fully programmable LED lighting rig, big screen and sound system. When not in use to tell stories, interview scientists or hold space talks, the Space Shed turns into a disco venue.
But a good shed doesn’t need to be sophisticated or cost a fortune, as Anne Hindle demonstrated by bagging the Budget category. Her Vintage Tea Shed — a tripude of chintzy cushions, china tea cups, fringed lamps and pastel colours — cost less than £100 to build.
For the first time ever, Shed of the Year also featured a Nature category, which Mr Hield’s shed won before going on to be crowned the overall champion.
‘This year, Cuprinol discovered that more than a third of Brits allow nature to take over part of their garden, so we thought it was only right to reflect that with the addition of a Nature’s Haven category and the entrants really excited us,’ explains Cuprinol founder and competition judge Andrew Wilcox. ‘It seems only fitting that Bux End championed this year’s competition celebrating the nation’s natural approach to the great outdoors.’
Over the years many writers have found a garden shed to be a perfect place to lock themselves away from