The ultimate garden shed - with bar

SEEKING solace from the stresses of modern life or escaping a nagging partner, a man normally finds comfort in one of two places - the local pub or his garden shed.

Dave Gooderham

SEEKING solace from the stresses of modern life or escaping a nagging partner, a man normally finds comfort in one of two places - the local pub or his garden shed.

Now an inventive Suffolk man has brought these two loves together by building a fully-fitted bar inside his shed to win a prestigious prize.

Tim McNeill, from the Sudbury area, dubbed his creation The Rugby Pub after furnishing it with three fridges, a matted floor and hammock.


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And judges of Britain's Shed of the Year were so impressed with the unusual attraction that they gave him pride of place in the national competition.

While Mr McNeill, who designed and built the winning entry, was yesterday believed to be on holiday, fellow shed enthusiasts paid tribute to his unusual take on the much-loved garden structure.

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Shed-lover Nick Irwin, landlord of the Sudbury-based Waggon and Horses pub, has five sheds and unsurprisingly admits to being a bit of a hoarder.

He said: “My sheds are full of quite simply - my stuff. They have broken tools, 50 old pots of paint, a paddling pool that hasn't been used in years, bits of wood and carpet tiles.

“I just don't want to throw things away, even if my wife Kristina tears her hair out, as you never know when you might need things. “Obviously, my (main) shed is slightly different to the winning shed. I hesitate to call it a shed as it is more like a den or an escape. But every man should have a hobby and if this is his, then it is fantastic.”

Earlier this year, the EADT reported that the Rev Jamie Allen, from St Andrew's Church, Great Cornard, was hailing the humble garden shed as key component of a happy marriage - providing that all important hideaway during times of trouble. He is even offering one as a prize raffle open to people who complete a survey on marriage.

Sudbury mayor John Sayers, whose shed dates back to the First World War, said: “A shed is a place to get away from the hustle and bustle, a form of retreat. Mine is a complete contrast to Tim McNeill's, it is more of a traditional Aladdin's Cave full of memorabilia and items of personal interest.

“My idea of a shed is in the garden and full of tools but I do think Mr McNeill's is quite spectacular and a wonderful creation - even if it is not very practical.”

Mr McNeill's octagonal garden building beat off hundreds of entrants to win top prize in the national competition run by enthusiasts at www.shedweek.co.uk . He is now expected to go on and compete in the international version.

Judge Alex Johnson, from shedworking.co.uk, said: “As soon as you step inside a great shed, you immediately have a warm and comfortable sensation, and that's exactly how you should feel in a great pub too. Bring the two together and bingo, you've got a very worthy winner indeed.”

Factfile

· The activity of men working in their potting sheds led to the slang term “sheddie”, and shows the importance of sheds in UK popular culture.

· A recent study showed that sheds were no longer just associated with the likes of Alan Titchmarsh and Arthur Fowler - more than a third of young British men claimed they would love to own one.

· Sheds have now become a lucrative investment for house hunters with 40% of people considering the outdoor structure an important factor when buying property.

· The study revealed that sheds were increasingly being used for a variety of different reasons - from relationship stabilisers to practical extensions of the home and sanctuaries from modern day life.

· Perhaps the most famous of all is the potting shed owned by the beleaguered Mr MacGregor in Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit - not that the Scottish gardener found much peace there.

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