History & Heritage
My Passion for Rural History & Tradition
My interest in our cultural and rural heritage extends to the research and conservation of craft skills, which are fast disappearing elsewhere, and the preservation of rural bygones. I am one of the few in the UK who carefully restore traditional Shepherd’s Huts and painstakingly create authentic replicas.
Beyond Shepherds Huts, I dedicate my time to restoring working steam engines, machinery and other paraphernalia of a bygone age. I use tools and methods of the period to provide true authenticity to any restoration I complete.
My Grandfather, William Butterfield was a manager of Burnetts, a railway repair works on a private siding in the 1920s. He is the tall man at the rear of this photograph with the collar and tie.
My father in his early days, used to work for the firm repairing the old rolling stock, machining the wheels and refurbishing the woodwork.
Indeed, I still use the old hand augers and wood planes that used to belong to my grandfather and still bear his initials stamped over 90 years ago. Using these tools connects me to my past and encourages me to complete projects with skill and pride, just as my forefathers did.
As many of you are aware, over the years, I have been involved in many restoration projects, from the priceless (Roy Salvadori and Briggs Cunningham DB2 Aston Martins) to the more humble restorations of church gates etc.
To this end, I was asked by my old friends at Bridport Foundry to make a hood for their roller. My association with John and Steve at Bridport goes back many years, and they reminded me recently that their very first set of Shepherd hut wheels they cast was on my behalf. They have cast many thousands of wheels since then.
The roller was an untouched beauty but was lacking its original hood; all I had to go by to make one was an old photograph. After studying as many old Aveling rollers as I could find, I discovered this hood in the photograph was more of a bespoke item than an original fitment, so I set about making it as per the photograph.
Armed with a few measurements of where the uprights were attached, the whole thing came together very well. It was not unlike making a roof for the Shepherd hut, and my old 1890s band saw came into its own, cutting out the cross bracing.
The photograph showed a horseshoe in the front of the hood, so I had a rummage around the workshop and discovered an old horseshoe that I had found in the ground next to my forge years ago.
When it was all together, it looked a treat, so much so that Bridport Foundry was asked if it could take centre stage in the Old Glory tent at the Great Dorset Steam Fair for their display.
WW2 US Serviceman Shelter
This particular hut came from Wiltshire and was built around 1920. I think it was used by US servicemen during WW2 as a shelter when they were servicing something (judging by the oily fingerprints on the walls), when inspecting the interior I have discovered the following written on the boards in pencil…
506-1 / White / H100250 / 6212773 / K100214 / T4 Irvin E Bennage US Army / Pat Leonard US Army
Also written in pencil is a list as follows; Oil Pump, Oil Engine, Water Engine, Inspect Liners , Check Pulsators, Clean controller if necessary
There are other names and markings but it is all very old and difficult to read. I think it used to have a table attached to the wall and there are a number of pin holes around this area and I wondered if it may have been used as an office with notes pinned to the walls.
I think the 506-1 refers to the 506th parachute regiment 1st battalion. The regiment was initially formed during WW2 at camp Toccoa Georgia in 1942 where it earned it’s nickname Currahees after Currahee Mountain which is located inside the camps boundaries.
I think it is a very important part of history and I feel honored to have come across this and feel it is my duty to find a little more about where these men served what became of these service men. If you have any information in this regard I would be most grateful to hear from you.