Care in our craft and care for our environment: how we make our shepherd’s huts

Plankbridge has a reputation for meticulous use of materials and exceptional craftsmanship, and we are the only shepherd’s hut maker endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society. Here’s how our beautiful huts are made with care in Dorset – and enjoyed by happy customers across the UK, Europe and the USA.

Cast iron construction.

Purchase a Plankbridge shepherd’s hut and you can expect it to last a lifetime. But durability should never come at the cost of sustainability. It’s why we are fastidious about the materials we use – and provenance matters. All wood is sourced from traceable sources where good forestry practice is the rule, and we are increasingly looking at sourcing as much of our materials from within the UK as possible. The oak and sweet chestnut for our doors and external timbers is grown, milled and seasoned locally either in the UK or France. And the leather straps for the doors are hand crafted by a local saddler here in Dorset to exacting quality. As for the wheels? They are made of molten cast iron – much of which is recycled.

An ethos with prestigious origins. It’s more than a throwaway mantra.

Our pledge to use local materials judiciously is genuine. It’s our founding ethos – stitched into the fabric of everything we do. Plankbridge founder Richard Lee studied at John Makepeace’s pioneering Hooke Park College in the early 1990s, during the college’s prestigious Parnham Trust era. There was an inspiring focus on utilising British materials wisely, creatively and sustainably – blending traditional techniques with innovation instead of importing readymade alternatives. It’s an ethos with an important legacy. Richard’s fellow alumni from Hooke Park and Parnham have gone on to create some of Britain’s most distinguished timber-based businesses – including Gaze Burvill, Simon Thomas Pirie and Trannon.

Happy staff make great products

“In order that people may be happy in their work, three things are needed. They must be fit for it, they must not do too much of it and they must have a sense of success in it.” So wrote the fabled writer and philosopher John Ruskin back in the nineteenth century.

If you want to make a fantastic product, you need a happy, engaged team. It’s why we strive to provide a fulfilling creative environment for our craftspeople – many of whom joined Plankbridge as apprentices and have seen their careers blossom under the tutelage of our experienced senior makers.

In rural economies, access to rewarding career-focused employment is crucial. From our Cycle to Work scheme to the local suppliers we work with and the collaborative culture we encourage, Plankbridge has become the vibrant rural based business we always hoped it would be. As we grow, our community does too.

Minimising our impact on the environment

Nature gives us many of our raw materials so it’s only right that we give something back. That starts with our production methods. Much of our timber is homegrown – sustainably – and we have utilised reclaimed timber for feature walls and details on lots of commissions. We minimise waste and offcuts – recycling everything we cannot use. Meanwhile our forge is fuelled by sustainable Dorset charcoal rather than forge coal. Yet our ecological credentials extend way beyond the workshop.

Plankbridge are members of Woodland Heritage

As members of Woodland Heritage we support the productive management of Britain’s woodlands. And if you travel just a couple of miles from our HQ you will find five acres of Victorian watercress beds. Our founder Richard Lee purchased these watercress beds in 1998 and has been working on rewilding them since then. Dorset Wildlife Trust has designated part of the area a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). We hope that water voles and rare species of butterfly will soon be thriving in our wetland wildflower meadow, and each year the biodiversity gets better and better.

Hunker down with a Plankbridge hut

To discuss your requirements and get your project started, please make an enquiry with our customer liaison team.

You may also be interested in:

>> Designed for living, built for life: about our shepherd’s hut lifespans
>> How a shepherd’s hut puts more pleasure in your leisure time
>> Shepherd’s delight: the joy of sleeping in a shepherd’s hut bed
>> Working wonders: the joy of a shepherd’s hut office

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