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The shepherd’s hut wheel turns full circle, as Plankbridge returns to riverbank

Amy Brice

Picture credit: Rebecca Frost.

Picture credit: Rebecca Frost.

Having crafted hundreds of bespoke shepherd’s huts over the past 17 years at its workshop in Piddlehinton, Dorset, Plankbridge Master Hutmakers now has a Riverkeeper’s Hut nestled proudly in Norman Thelwell’s Hampshire garden, the previous home of the famous cartoonist who inspired the Plankbridge name. Deriving from Thelwell’s book ‘A Plank Bridge by a Pool’, which had a profound influence on co-founder and owner, Richard Lee, during his teenage years, the Plankbridge name has become synonymous with open meadows, wetlands and the simple life with a bucolic feel that were such strong themes in Thelwell’s work.

Best known for his cartoons which commented on many aspects of human behaviour, often featuring little girls and their now iconic little fat ponies, Thelwell published ‘A Plank Bridge by a Pool’ in 1978, an autobiographical work documenting how he created lakes and bridges at his home on the River Test in Hampshire. With Richard’s longstanding fondness for rivers, lakes and streams, the Riverkeeper’s Hut is a fitting homage to the unofficial artist of the British countryside. Featuring glazed double doors on one side wall to draw in natural light, this hut is at one with its rural surroundings, instantly connecting its owners to the great outdoors around them.

As another page turns in the history of Plankbridge, this Riverkeeper’s Hut further bolsters its strong literary links. Based in the heart of Thomas Hardy country, the Hutmaker’s own story has been intertwined with the written word for many years, something that Richard has been keen to nurture since Plankbridge was first born by the fireside.

Richard explains:

“I remember sitting by the fire one winter’s evening with a stack of Thelwell’s books close by, contemplating names. I sketched many ideas but I couldn’t shake off ‘A Plank Bridge by a Pool’ and just a few weeks later, Plankbridge was born. Building a hut for Norman Thelwell’s previous home was a huge honour, especially delivering the finished hut and seeing the familiar pools and bridges which were so firmly formed in my imagination. It’s a place that has always inspired me and I hope that the Riverkeeper’s Hut will help to inspire the owners for many years to come.”

Time-honoured skills, precise craftsmanship and Victorian heritage are poured into the build of each 12’ by 6’6” Plankbridge Riverkeeper’s Hut, which cost £23,000 including VAT, with bespoke designs also quoted for.

For more information about Plankbridge Hutmakers please call 01300 348414, email enquiries@plankbridge.com or visit www.plankbridge.com.