Jul 16, 2014
by GREGG Morris CBN Feature Writer
In the 19th century, shepherds tending to grazing sheep in Southern England needed shelter to shield them from the unforgiving weather. The structures, called shepherd’s huts, became a versatile, mobile solution to the worker’s problem. They included a kitchen, dining area, living area, bedroom as well as storeroom for tools. Each hut was finished off with a wood stove, a bed and two small windows.
Shepherd huts, transformed for many different uses, became a ubiquitous site in England. For English-raised, Central Oregon-transplanted Andrew Spittle, the commonplace of seeing the huts was etched in his brain. But, it wasn’t until many years later did he get the itch to build and market shepherd huts for the United States. And so, English Shepherd Huts, LLC was born.
“I wanted to try something different and unique,” explains Spittle. “It is so versatile in its uses. I thought it would be a perfect fit here.”
Spittle had the idea to start the first, and only, manufacturer of authentic English shepherd’s huts in North America last year while in bed with an injury. He saw one in an old show he used to watch as a child, then, serendipitously, caught another show specifically about shepherd’s huts. In addition, Spittle’s time spent working in engineering with his family’s Beta Steels Company. So, Spittle used his knowledge of building with steel to complete his first one last winter.
The unique, moveable huts are economical and durable, use recycled steel from the United Kingdom and require no permitting. The undeniable, “cute factor” makes them more romantic than tiny houses, while maintaining their simplicity and portability.
The shepherd’s huts’ design combines the precision of a steel chassis with the esthetically pleasing nature of hardwood finishes. The four inch metal wheels come with a steerable front axle for ease in movement. The rounded, corrugated roof overhangs 12 inches on the sides. Hardwood flooring, French doors and Heritage-style windows complete the old-world look. Heating possibilities include a wood stove, Cadet heaters or underfloor heating.
While all huts are seven feet wide, there are currently four hut options, depending upon length; the 14 foot Knowle, the 16 foot Dover, the 18 foot Hampton and the 20 foot Windsor. Prices for the huts range from $16,995 to over $20,000, depending upon size and furnishings.
The uses of the shepherd huts run the gamut of possibility. They are well suited for guest quarters, kid’s play areas and work spaces. Businesses can use them as a coffee hut, wine tasting area or beer growler-fill station.
“I think they are ideal for fishing or hunting on a piece of land,” says Spittle. “You can get a second home out of this pretty cheap.”
For now, Spittle builds the huts with minimal outside help in Bend. He enlisted an old friend to tackle the promotional and marketing work. Because of the specialized parts, most of the materials are shipped to Central Oregon from England. As part of the marketing plan, a shepherd hut is currently sitting at the Tumalo Garden Market of Highway 20 in Tumalo. While there has been a good deal of interest in the hut, Spittle doesn’t anticipate sales to begin for a couple of months.
English Shepherd’s Huts, LLC
CEO: Andrew Spittle
Year Established: 2014
Product: Shepherd Huts
Hot News: Brought an old-world product to Central Oregon
Outlook for Growth: Shepherd huts fit perfectly to Central Oregon’s diversified lifestyle.